I’ve managed to move past the sophisticated block and get on with the plot, thanks in part to the director; but mostly to my wife, Mandy.
In the original draft, the character was a bored socialite who wanted something more for herself but didn’t know what that something was. She was cleverer than she felt she was allowed to be. Not having a job or any ambitions was part of her character.
And that worked fine, but the director wanted her to be more sophisticated – and I had no idea what that means.
To me, sophisticated equals boring. I racked my brains, trying to think of an actress I considered sophisticated without thinking they were dull, pompous or stuck up.
And I couldn’t think of anyone. This girl is the principle love interest, by definition she has to be interesting and lovable. Sophisticated is not a word I’ve ever applied to anyone I’ve ever fancied.
I had a chat with the director, but his vision of sophisticated wasn’t something I could get behind. The character he mentioned I found icy, boring and aloof – difficult to use her as a role model. He suggested a job for her: yoga teacher, which helps give her some direction; but I still had no mental image. Mostly because I’ve only ever met two yoga teachers and they were fucking nuts.
Later on, I was chatting to Mandy about my inability to get a handle on the character and she instantly suggested Audrey Hepburn, Lana Turner, Ingrid Bergman – in fact almost any actress from the thirties/forties/fifties.
Suddenly the word sophisticated was replaced with the words elegant, poised, graceful, charming – words which have a much better association for me and a whole new image popped into my head.
I can get on with the re-write now, I have a clear image in my head and her dialogue springs easily to mind.
And that’s why I love Mandy, she has the ability to say one or two words which cut right to the heart of the matter. She sees solutions to my problems; problems I’ve struggled with for days, she solves in a flash. And afterwards, I always wonder why I never saw that solution; they are always simple and always obvious – after the fact.
That to me is true genius, the ability to see the simple solutions from an angle no one else thought of.
Mandy’s the youngest of three sisters – she likes to play the baby, she likes to play the dizzy blonde; but underneath it all is one of the most insightful minds it’s ever been my pleasure to meet. There are very few people in the world who are allowed to see this side of her – I’m very privileged to be one of those few.
She’s got great tits too.