Forbidding setting, climate make ‘Jane Eyre’ production daunting
BY DENNIS KING
NEW YORK – Take it from Cary Fukunaga, shooting a Victorian period piece in an imposing, unheated, 11th century stone manor house and on the dank, craggy, wintery dales around Derbyshire, England, is not for sissies.
For his new film adaptation of “Jane Eyre,” director Fukunaga and crew set up shop in the sprawling, 1,000-year-old Haddon Hall, a privately owned English country house at Blakewell, Derbyshire, that was originally built by William Peverel, illegitimate son of William the Conqueror.
In “Jane Eyre,” Haddon House doubles for Thornfield Hall, home of the imperious and mysterious Edward Rochester, employer of the plain but spirited governess Jane. Actually, Haddon House should be familiar to fans of literary period movies. The interior and exterior of the home were portrayed as Prince Humperkinck’s castle in 1986’s “The Princess Bride,” and it was featured in the 1998 film “Elizabeth” and the 2005 adaptation of “Pride & Prejudice.”
Coincidentally, it was also used in Franco Zeffereli’s 1996 adaptation of “Jane Eyre” and in a 2006 BBC television version of Charlotte Bronte’s classic story.
For Fukunaga, the rigors of shooting at the storied medieval location were complicated by the elements.
“It was freezing on the set,” said Fukunaga during pre-release press interviews hosted by Focus Features at the Waldorf Astoria.. “It was so cold, at one point we had some friends visit, and I said, ‘wear warm clothes.’ And they said, ‘we’re inside, right?’ And I said, ‘it’s even colder inside.’
“The house was so cold that literally I was wearing layers and layers inside,” he said. “You had to. Even that didn’t help. I mean, Mia (Wasikowska, who plays Jane Eyre) was so weighed down with her costume, which is absolutely authentic, we were even using original corsets and lace and that kind of thing. But even with all that clothing, which is extremely heavy, she was freezing cold.
“When we had to do that rain sequence where Jane shows up at the Rivers house, the weather wasn’t really giving us the dark, moody dusk look that I needed and also it was about 30 degrees, and so we were spraying the water and Mia was soaking wet,” the director recalled. “The crew said they said they were going to give her a wet suit, but their version of a wet suit was sort of a body condom which I don’t think added any warmth for her. So, bless her soul, she nearly got hypothermia on our second day of shooting, and we got two takes of her falling in the water before we had to move on. It was just too cold.”
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