Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Fiennes: Dickens was no scoundrel

Ralph Fiennes directs Felicity Jones in the movie about Charles Dickens

Ralph Fiennes has admitted he was wary about sensationalising the story of Charles Dickens' long-term extra-marital affair on the big screen, because he didn't want to paint the much-loved author as a scoundrel.

The actor directs and stars in The Invisible Woman, based on Claire Tomalin's book of the same name about Dickens' mistress Nelly Ternan. The Iron Lady's Abi Morgan adapted the screenplay and Felicity Jones stars as Nelly.

Ralph revealed at the Toronto Film Festival: "I think it was important not to overly sensationalise it, I wanted to find the right balance. So I felt I needed to be mindful for myself.

"I was wary of the quick leap to judgment some people would make - 'Oh Dickens was a scoundrel!' There's a whole spectrum of Dickens. He was very loyal to his friends and incredibly generous, devoted to social causes, and wrote these amazing books and then at home possibly was a difficult father figure."

Felicity and Ralph discussed the influence of Nelly on Dickens' female characters, and revealed they helped inspire the film.

Felicity said: "I actually feel like his female characters get much better after his affair with Nelly. I think you can feel her influence in his work."

And Ralph admitted the lines became blurred between acting and directing as he tried to balance the two.

Felicity added: "It did feel at points that I was being directed by Charles Dickens, rather than Ralph Fiennes, which was no problem!"

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