With the release of the “The Lady” in cinemas across the UK on December 30, Label Culture Editor Maxine Cheyney caught up with producer Andy Harries to find out how he felt about his latest venture.
“The Lady” is based on the true story of Aung San Suu Kyi, played by Michelle Yeoh, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, her strength and the unbelievable sacrifices she made for her country.
Andy Harries is a British television and film producer who has previously worked alongside stars like Helen Mirren in ‘The Queen’ and Michael Sheen in ‘The Damned United’.
Maxine Cheyney: Are you happy with the outcome of the film?
Andy Harries: Yes, of course, it’s been received differently everywhere. And with [director Luc] Besson it’s the same story, but has different textures, it reflects the director’s vision.
It was all Luc Besson really.
MC: What’s it all about?
AH: Well it’s all about Aung San Suu Kyi and her story now that’s she’s been released from house arrest of course, but it’s more about the love story between her and her husband, his role was rather unpublicised…it really is an incredible story.
MC: How did the idea to turn her story into a film come about?
AH: Well it was my wife’s [Rebecca Frayn] idea – she’s the writer. We’d been to Burma and had quite the traumatic experience, going around on a government bus we couldn’t talk to anyone; everyone was ushered away from us. Sadly we didn’t get to meet her [Aung San Suu Kyi], really difficult, we couldn’t even get near her house.
MC: Were you involved in casting?
AH: We chose [Michelle] Yeoh before [Luc] Besson came into it. She’s a great actress; we couldn’t have imagined anyone else playing the role.
MC: Did you travel with the crew?
AH: There wasn’t much to do and to be honest I don’t like being on set all the time, it can get a bit boring!
MC: What have the reactions been like since the Toronto film festival?
AH: They’ve been different everywhere, we had standing ovations in a lot of places, like in France on Tuesday night. The film has been changed quite a bit since the Toronto film festival though.
MC: How would you respond to criticism? For example, there’s been some from The Guardian following the festival.
Well, Maxine, a lot of reviewers from The Guardian are grumpy old men, watching it half asleep, not young women who would be able to appreciate the film and story a lot more.
MC: In your view what was the most exciting scene?
AH: When she makes her speech in Washington in…1989, she stands in front of over a million people, incredible.
MC: I know that you greatly admire Besson, what was it like working with him?
AH: Yes I do admire him, he’s a brilliant director, and he pretty much took over. Hugely successful, commercially as well!