Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Northern Light Technology LLC

Return to Results
New Search
Accounts
Newsday

Title:   Breaking Out / A young actress gets her first leading role
 
Summary:     BAREFOOT, IN A LONG gray dress and black cardigan, 25-year-old Catherine McCormack emerges fresh from a makeup session and alights at the breakfast table in her Park Avenue hotel suite and carefully explains that she has not yet seen the finished version of "Dangerous Beauty." The film, a historical drama in which McCormack stars as Veronica Franco, the dashing and versatile 16th-Century Venetian poet / courtesan, is about to open in Manhattan (it has since moved to theaters on Long Island). It's her first leading role.

----------
 
Source:  Newsday
Date:  19980317
Price:  $2.95
Document Size:  Short (up to 2 pages)
Document ID:  BM19980324070072657
Subject(s):  FEATURE; CATHERINE MCCORMACK; ACTRESS; DANGEROUS BEAUTY
Citation Information:  ALL EDITIONS; Vol. 12-52; PART II Section
Author(s):  By Liza Bear. Liza Bear is a freelance writer.
Document Type:  Article
 

No risk policy   If you buy an article and you are not satisfied with it, let us know and we will refund your money - no questions asked. Press the Accounts Button for a refund. Please press the "Money Back Guarantee" link for additional information about this policy.    Money Back Guarantee
 
 
  Newsday
Breaking Out / A young actress gets her first leading role

BAREFOOT, IN A LONG gray dress and black cardigan, 25-year-old Catherine McCormack emerges fresh from a makeup session and alights at the breakfast table in her Park Avenue hotel suite and carefully explains that she has not yet seen the finished version of "Dangerous Beauty." The film, a historical drama in which McCormack stars as Veronica Franco, the dashing and versatile 16th-Century Venetian poet / courtesan, is about to open in Manhattan (it has since moved to theaters on Long Island). It's her first leading role.

Her hair is cut short, and at first blush, McCormack's delicate features, fragile build and English rose complexion don't suggest the foxy, sword-fencing character she plays on screen - except, perhaps, for the way her eyes narrow shrewdly. But then, Franco was not your typical lady of the night.

"I'm probably not the best tea-maker in the world, though I should be," said McCormack, who defines herself as three-quarters English and one-quarter Irish - on her paternal grandfather's side. He described Alton, the very small country town in southern England where she was raised by her father, a London steelworker, as "Jane Austen country." Her mother died when she was 6, and until she was 16 she attended a Catholic convent.

"I was very shy as a child," McCormack said. "I do still see myself as an awkward, quite shy, gangly type of person, and it was an escape from my awkwardness to be given words to say by someone else, which allowed me to be someone else."

Still in her teens, McCormack landed the title role in a Dario Fo theatrical production of Brecht's "The Mother." It became a seminal experience. "At 16 I was given a part that's to die for when you're in your 40s," said McCormack. "At that moment I thought, acting is what I really want to do because I'm playing someone who is completely different from who I am and it's great."

At 18, after a year "painting little cottages" in a factory, McCormack attended the Oxford School of Drama for two years. A few days before leaving, she was invited to audition for Anna Campion's film "Loaded," her 1994 screen debut.

"They called me back four or five times," McCormack recalled. "I played Rose, the introverted, awkward virgin. It was a very low-budget little film. I had no idea what would happen to it after eight weeks of filming in this little house in Ruislip outside London. There was no glamor attached to it at all."

McCormack didn't have to wait long for a breakthrough part. After a couple of TV roles, her classic Gainsborough looks and self-possessed demeanor soon caught studio attention and she found herself in Mel Gibson's 1995 Oscar winner, "Braveheart."

"In `Braveheart' my character died in the first half-hour," McCormack said, "although I reappear in visions every now and again. After `Braveheart,' I got sent a string of love interest roles where the woman was very secondary to the plot. She was always described as `woman with gun,' just being there to help the main story line. So when I read the screenplay of `Honest Courtesan' ("Dangerous Beauty's" original title), Veronica Franco seemed like a wonderful role for a woman and an interesting world to be part of as well, to find out how women in that time were treated by society."

Franco is considered an early feminist by experts of the period, such as Margaret Rosenthal, a professor at the University of Southern California, on whose book of Italian gender studies the film's screenplay by Jeanine Dominy was based. High-class courtesans in 16th-Century Venice had options that were not available to married women. For instance, they were permitted access to libraries, allowed to have an education and to write poetry, in contrast to married women whose activities were confined to the home.

"It was a wonderful part for someone {like me} to play," said McCormack. "Someone to whom all that seems very alien and different from me as a person."

The film was shot in Cinecitta, Rome and in the surrounding Italian countryside in the height of summer.

Among the film's wittiest scenes on the Venetian canals are a poetry slamming contest (in rhyming couplets) between Franco and rival poet Mafio Venier (Oliver Platt), which evolves into a fencing duel. Mafio, whose advances as a paying client have been rebuffed by Franco, later joins the Church and becomes her enemy as a prosecutor of the Inquisition.

"The most challenging aspect of the role was being on set every single day, to keep up the energy and the stamina," she said. "They brought in a personal trainer for me whom I never used except for massages, which I regularly needed because it was such an exhausting schedule. I lost a lot of weight wearing those costumes every day. You couldn't really eat in the middle of the day because of the tightness of the corsets."

Since spending that summer in Italy as Veronica Franco, McCormack has been studying Italian and tending her garden by the river Thames. She is also writing a play.

Will there be a role in it for herself?

"There is a leading role for a woman in it," McCormack said, smiling. "But I'd have to audition myself."

For the moment, however, she's on a roll. Her next film, David Leland's "Land Girls," about three young women sent to work the land in a Dorset farm during World War II, will open this spring.

(Copyright Newsday Inc., 1998)

©1998 UMI Company; All Rights Reserved. Only fair use, as provided by the United States copyright law, is permitted. UMI Company makes no warranty regarding the accuracy, completeness or timelines of the Publications or the records they contain, or any warranty, express or implied, including any warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose, and shall not be liable for damages of any kind or lost profits or other claims related to them or their use.


You may now print or save this document.
If you save it, you may have to overwrite the filename to add the extension .htm or .html.

No risk policy   If you buy an article and you are not satisfied with it, let us know and we will refund your money - no questions asked. Please press the "Money Back Guarantee" link for additional information about this policy.    Money Back Guarantee

Portions of above Copyright © 1997-1998, Northern Light Technology LLC. All rights reserved.
Return to Results New Search