Stephen Frears left his MacBook charger in Chicago. The Oscar-nominated director of Dangerous Liasons and The Queen is promoting his new film Tamara Drewe, a mildly amusing sex farce adapted from Posy Simmonds’ comic. A crack team of interns was dispatched to fetch a new power supply, but the laptop crisis has left the gruff Englishman agitated. “I cannot wait,” he harrumphs, “to begin charging.”
What follows is an edited transcript of our spectacularly awkward conversation, which was punctuated by epic silences and should serve as a cautionary tale to never open with a lame joke.
PW: So what, pardon the pun, Drewe you to the material?
Stephen Frears: (Crickets. Eventually he shrugs.) I just thought it was lovely.
And how did you get involved with the project?
I was sent a script.
Were you familiar with the graphic novel?
I’d read the comic when it was serialized in the newspaper, and I’d known the artist. But it didn’t ever cross my mind to make a film out of it.
Simmonds’ comic is itself a reworking of Thomas Hardy’s Far From The Madding Crowd . Are you a big Hardy fan?
Not particularly. No.
So you didn’t re-read the novel before making the film?
No. I did not want to make the film for Thomas Hardy fans.
How many of those are out there buying tickets?
You’ve provided star-making roles for Gary Oldman, Uma Thurman, Annette Bening—the list goes on. Are you always on the lookout for undiscovered talent?
No. I’m just generally not in a position to afford famous people.
Did you sense Gemma Arterton was poised for a similar breakout when you cast her as Tamara Drewe?
No. I thought she would be very good in the part. I never thought about anything beyond that.
Could you do us a favor and put her co-star Roger Allam in a Christopher Hitchens biopic?