Lights, hot water bottle, action!


by Robin Stringer, Arts Correspondent

It is a situation every woman has experienced - you turn up in a revealing and lightweight outfit only to spend the rest of the day wishing you had opted for three layers and your thermals.

ollywood actress Christina Ricci, no doubt resigned herself to it being a hazard of the job as she stood on set in her little black dress finding it no defence against the biting cold in Trafalgar Square, a key location in a new British movie.

Both she and British actor John Simm, who play lovers in the film provisionally entitled Miranda, were finding it hard to stop their teeth chattering as they delivered their lines.

Hence the frequent resort to hot water bottles, Puffa coats, scarves, foot and hand warmers, hot tea and coffee and anything which would keep the cold at bay. Miss Ricci, 20, seeking momentarily to recharge her batteries in the comfort of her car, played down the chill. "I have worked in snowy locations in Buffalo, upstate New York, in winter," she said, as if London were Florida.

What has brought the actress whose Hollywood career was launched as The Addams Family daughter Wednesday to London for an £8 million film is, she said, the quality of the script. "I was sent it, read it and really liked it." She takes the title role as Miranda, a woman of many parts - geisha girl, businesswoman, con woman, dancer and dominatrix. "It's fun pretending to be the same woman pretending to be different women. It's like acting at acting," she says, gearing herself for her next take as "the businesswoman who is kind of sexually dominant".

Simm plays the innocent Yorkshire librarian who falls for Miranda in one of her personas up North only to find that when he pursues her down South she is not the same woman at all. Suddenly he finds himself caught up in a bewildering world of confidence tricksters, sadistic villains and amazing sex - all of which is a bit beyond him. It is peopled by, among others, John Hurt as an elegant schemer who works with Miranda, and Kyle MacLachlan as a millionaire businessman, also in her thrall.

The film has been developed over two years out of a one-man show at Battersea Arts Centre written and performed by Rob Young. Young combined with producer Laurence Bowen and first-time director Marc Munden to create their Feelgood Fiction Company, which, with the help of Lottery funding from the Film Council, is producing the movie for Film Four. Munden, former assistant to Mike Leigh, and director of the recent television version of Vanity Fair, said: "I have been waiting 20 years to make a feature film. It's a huge jump for me."

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