Told you the mellowness wouldn’t last long.
Before you go on reading, please answer this question: did you enjoy Truly Madly Deeply? If you’ve answered, “Oh my god, it’s my favourite movie; I’ve seen it 25 times and cried soooo much each time,” you can stop reading now because this post will upset you.
If, on the other hand, you’ve answered, “Ugh! That movie made me want to throw up: it was so syrupy and fake and the acting was disgusting,” then please carry on.
Juliet Stevenson was the main culprit and I wanted to slap her very hard for it when the film came out, all those years ago, and I can’t wait one minute longer.
I used to adore her. I saw her in her very first part at the RSC in 1978. She was 20 years old, I think, and fresh from drama school. She’d got the part of a servant in a marvellous production of The Taming of the Shrew because the actress who should have been playing that part had broken her leg or something, and she made a great impact in that small part. I got to know her and the following year she even stayed in my flat in Paris, while I spent the summer in Stratford. I saw everything she was in and was never disappointed. She had a superb, distinctive, grown-up voice and she was always good. She was also very serious and dedicated and had unbelievable self-discipline.
And then Truly Madly Deeply happened and that was it. She became the most mannered actress ever – a kind of caricature. My partner’s theory is that she was praised so much for her performance in that film that she must have thought that was what the public wanted from her so she gave it more of the same. And she started playing fluffy (she doesn’t have the physique for fluffiness) and scatty women because she was offered other parts like that after that landmark film. Her voice got shriller too.
I stopped being able to watch her, but I don’t give up easily on people and I’ve seen her in other things since then – just because I keep hoping that one day she will be the powerful performer she was when she was young. Tonight my partner and I saw her in a terrible production of The Seagull, directed by the perverse Katie Mitchell. Perverse because she decided to go against the text all through, without any reason whatsoever. Perhaps tomorrow’s reviews will reveal that the nonsense we saw on the stage had some profound meaning, but I doubt it. Juliet wasn’t bad, but she couldn’t be good in such a preposterous production. I’m afraid I hid from her, when she walked by in the foyer after the show. “Darling, you were wonderful!” I couldn’t possibly have said that to her – no way.
I’m slapping Dame Juliet (it’s only a question of time…) for being such a disappointment.