Gwyneth Paltrow and Cate Blanchett explain that their new movie was a tough sell
Gwyneth Paltrow
Credit: Phil Bray

The Oscar hype is already building for Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow’s ”The Talented Mr. Ripley,” but the industry’s love for the thriller wasn’t always so strong. ”The whole process of getting the movie made was difficult because the film breaks a lot of the rules that you expect from studio filmmaking,” explains producer Sydney Pollack. ”First of all, you’ve got Matt Damon, the young girls’ heartthrob, and he doesn’t kiss a girl or end up with Gwyneth Paltrow, but ends up falling in love with a guy and murdering him. It was tough every step of the way.”

Even before production began, filmmakers who had optioned other books in the ”Ripley” series, by author Patricia Highsmith, began kicking up a fuss. ”They tried to block us by saying they were going to film their versions first,” says Pollack. And then wooing strong female actors to the project proved to be a challenge for director Anthony Minghella (”The English Patient”) because of the book’s harsh view of its female characters. ”I wasn’t allowed to read the book,” says Gwyneth Paltrow. ”Anthony forbid me.”

Although Minghella fleshed out Paltrow’s character, Marge, a free-spirited aspiring novelist, it still took some effort for the actress to find her heart. ”I liked Marge. I thought she was sweet, but I thought she was lighter (in the script),” Paltrow says. ”I didn’t realize she was so fantastic and deep and warm and complicated until I began shooting the film, which is a testament to my own stupidity.”

Once filming started, the complications continued — especially when Matt Damon’s star power created chaos on the set. ”Matt is able to deal with his public very gracefully, which was difficult when we were shooting because there were thousands of screaming tourists who became our audience,” says costar Cate Blanchett. ”It was like doing street theater. The Italians all thought he was Leonardo DiCaprio, but when they found out he wasn’t they didn’t really care and kept screaming.”

The Talented Mr. Ripley
  • Movie
  • 139 minutes