Page last updated at 15:55 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 16:55 UK

Stars justify Brideshead remake

By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Brideshead Revisited stars Emma Thompson, Matthew Goode and Ben Whishaw
Thompson (left) has revealed that she never saw the Brideshead TV series

The stars of a new film of Brideshead Revisited have justified the decision to return to Evelyn Waugh's novel, 27 years on from the acclaimed TV version.

"If it's a really good story it's worth telling," said actress Emma Thompson at the film's London premiere on Monday.

"However good the TV series was, that was for then," she continued.

Her sentiments were echoed by co-star Ben Whishaw, who said Waugh's novel, first published in 1945, was "worth re-investigating for a new audience".

"For some reason it's a story that has a particularly strong pull on people's imaginations," he told the BBC News website on Tuesday.

"The series was made 27 years ago, which is long enough for a whole generation to have grown up."


A story of forbidden love in the pre-World War II era, Brideshead tells of a young man, Charles Ryder, who becomes beguiled by the members of a wealthy aristocratic family.

The original series, which aired on ITV in 1981, starred Jeremy Irons as Charles and Anthony Andrews as Sebastian Flyte, the charming but troubled heir to the Marchmain fortune.

Brideshead director Julian Jarrold tells BBC London what drew him to the project

Both actors became strongly associated with their career-making roles - a fate that does not perturb Matthew Goode, who plays Charles in the new BBC-funded film.

"That would be fine," he told the BBC News website. "It would mean we've done something right."

"There's nothing wrong with being connected with certain parts," said Whishaw, who plays Sebastian in a cast that also includes Sir Michael Gambon as his father and rising star Hayley Atwell as his sister Julia.

"I think it's a sign you've moved people and they have been entertained."

Neither Whishaw and Thompson admit to having seen the original TV series, with the latter saying it completely passed her by when it was first broadcast.

"I was a very young woman, a punk rocker when it came out," said the 49-year-old, who plays the imperious Lady Marchmain in Julian Jarrold's film.


"Brideshead was not on my radar at all."

According to Goode, the book is worth a revisit "because it's an important piece of literature that has some great characters and some timeless themes."

Matthew Goode, Hayley Atwell and Ben Whishaw in Brideshead Revisited
Part of the film, like the TV series, was shot at Castle Howard in Yorkshire
Comic book fans might claim the same about his next project, an adaptation of the cult graphic novel Watchmen.

Goode plays masked vigilante Ozymandias in the $100m production, a role he auditioned for on tape while sitting on a hotel toilet.

"The casting director hung a white sheet behind me and we filmed it there," he recalled. "I never thought I would hear anything else about it.

"It's not a world I know particularly well," he continued. "From what I've seen of it so far, though, it looks unbelievable."

First published in 1986, Watchmen has the distinction - along with Brideshead Revisited - of having once featured on Time magazine's list of the 100 best English-language novels.

"If I can do the other 98 I might have a really good career," joked the 30-year-old, whose other films include Woody Allen's 2005 drama Match Point.

Brideshead Revisited is out in the UK on 3 October. Watchmen will be released next March.

Stars turn out for film's launch
30 Jul 08 |  North Yorkshire
Brideshead revisits stately home
08 May 07 |  North Yorkshire


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