Stars, money align for designer to make directing debut

Origins: “I read the book in my early 20s while living in West Hollywood. I was an actor at the time, and I loved the character study of George. …When I started to focus on filmmaking, I was offered a couple of projects, but they were shallow — ones which one would assume a fashion designer would do. I then thought about George. Reading it from midlife struck me in midlife. George couldn’t stop living in the past. That really spoke to me.”

High Hurdles: “The financing was turned down by a few people who I thought it would appeal to.”

Domino effect: Julianne Moore was the first to come onboard. I knew her socially. … Colin Firth was tricky, as he was my first choice and wasn’t available at the time. … I wound up casting another actor in the lead. … In the middle of summer 2008, I’m talking to Colin at the London premiere of ‘Mamma Mia!’ and listening to every word he’s saying … and couldn’t believe he wasn’t playing George. … My first choice wound up pulling out due to another project, so I emailed Colin and met him soon after in London.”

Setting the record straight: “This is the first project I produced. After 15 years of being a creative director of a $3.5 billion fashion company, I know how to operate in a corporate environment, am budget-conscious, can negotiate contracts and manage teams of people. Producing came naturally to me.”

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