You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Berlin: Cynthia Nixon Waxes Poetic About Emily Dickinson, ‘A Quiet Passion’

The British team behind “A Quiet Passion,” the story of one of America’s most beloved literary icons, Emily Dickinson, exhibited nothing but passion for their story of a wonderfully talented yet introverted poetic genius who never enjoyed recognition in her lifetime.

Discussing the film at a press conference ahead of its premiere in the Berlin Film Festival’s Berlinale Special showcase on Sunday, director Terence Davies, a veritable expert on Dickinson, said he had envisioned actress Cynthia Nixon in the role of Dickinson since the start.
Herself a lifelong fan of the poet, Nixon said she grew up watching Julie Harris in William Luce’s “The Belle of Amherst” and always heard Harris’ voice as Dickinson. “Julie Harris’ voice was in my head. I felt so much kinship to her. I had grown up watching her. But I was not intimidated.”
Nixon added that the one-woman play in which Harris famously starred is very different from “A Quiet Passion,” which looks at an earlier part of Dickinson’s life.
Davies said he first discovered the Dickinson when he was 18 and was fascinated not only by her poetry but also the fact that she had never received any recognition for her work during her lifetime.
Discussing Dickinson’s unusual life and isolation from society, Nixon observed, “Everybody thought she was so secluded, but she was all about communion with other people, through letters. She so longed for communion with people who were not there. I could imagine her today emailing and tweeting all day long, and then unplug. I hope it’s not perverse to say that.”
Jennifer Ehle, who plays Dickinson’s sister Lavinia, added that Dickinson “found freedom in her seclusion.”
For a film that explores the life and work of an American literary icon, it’s curiously telling that its producers had such a tough time interesting U.S. producers in the material.
“It’s extraordinary that no one else has made a film about her life,” said producer Sol Papadopoulos, who added that the film first secured financing out of the U.K. and Belgium and eventually the U.S. “The U.S. money was last and the most difficult.”
Nevertheless, Papadopoulos said the film was a joy to make. “Making films is usually like herding snakes in to paper bags in a wind storm — but not this one.”
Papadopoulos and Roy Boulter’s Liverpool-based Hurricane Films is also developing a documentary on Dickinson, parts of which will likely appear in the “Quiet Passion” DVD.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Jon Voight'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' film

    President Trump to Award Jon Voight the National Medal of Arts

    President Trump will present actor Jon Voight, musician Allison Krauss, and mystery writer James Patterson with the national medal of arts. Voight is one of few in Hollywood who has been vocal about his support of President Trump in the past, calling him “the greatest president of this century.” The White House announced four recipients [...]

  • Zack Snyder arrives at the 2018

    'Justice League': Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, Zack Snyder Support Release of 'Snyder Cut'

    Zack Snyder, Gal Gadot, and Ben Affleck have taken to social media to request that Warner Bros. release the Snyder cut of “Justice League.” Snyder, who helmed “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman” and was “Justice League’s” original director, had to leave production on the film partway through after his daughter died, with Joss [...]

  • Whose Side Is 'Marriage Story' On?

    Whose Side Is 'Marriage Story' On? (Column)

    Do we choose sides when we watch “Marriage Story,” Noah Baumbach’s brilliant and wrenching drama of divorce? The question, on the face of it, sounds facile in a dozen ways the movie isn’t. Rarely are there winners in divorce, and there are two sides to every breakup. “Marriage Story” is a movie that reflects that [...]

  • The Letter

    IDFA: Kenyan Documentary ‘The Letter’ Debuts Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Variety has been given access to the trailer for Kenyan documentary “The Letter,” by producer-director duo Christopher King and Maia Lekow, which world premieres Nov. 23 at IDFA. The film follows a young man who travels to his grandmother’s rural home when he learns she’s been accused of witchcraft. He soon discovers that the threatening letter she [...]

  • Warner Bros. Box Office

    With 'Good Liar' and 'Doctor Sleep,' Warner Bros.' Box Office Misfortunes Mount

    When Warner Bros. was crafting its 2019 slate, the studio took pains to offer more than just superhero movies. To be sure, there were lots of masked vigilantes too, but more than any of its big studio brethren, Warner Bros. was willing to take a risk on the kinds of thrillers, adult dramas, coming-of-age stories, [...]

  • Constance Wu

    Will Constance Wu Ever Watch 'Hustlers'?

    Despite her leading role, Constance Wu has never seen “Hustlers” and, spoiler alert, it’s very unlikely that she will. Wu explained why she doesn’t want to watch the film to Mindy Kaling (“Late Night”) during a conversation for “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.” “This is crazy,” Kaling said in the beginning of the interview. “I [...]

  • Ford v Ferrari

    'Ford v Ferrari' Outmatches 'Charlie's Angels' at International Box Office

    Disney and 20th Century Fox’s “Ford v Ferrari” sped ahead of fellow new release, Sony’s “Charlie’s Angels,” at the international box office. Director James Mangold’s racing drama collected $21.4 million from 41 foreign markets, representing 67% of its overseas rollout. “Ford v Ferrari” also kicked off with $31 million in North America, bringing its global [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content