AUTUMN IN NEW YORK
Production Notes (Continued)
Surrounding Gere and Ryder in Autumn in New York is an extraordinary
supporting cast made up of renowned award-winners and promising newcomers. Among
the most prominent is renowned stage actress Elaine Stritch, who plays Dolly,
Charlotte's tart-tongued, ex-socialite grandmother who has a secret insight into
Charlotte and Will's relationship.
Stritch won the role when she met the filmmakers in the bar of New York's
Regency Hotel in a pair of short shorts. "We saw her and thought 'Oh God,
she's perfect for this character,'" recalls Amy Robinson. Indeed, Dolly is
a delightfully eccentric and gutsy character, a woman who, according to Stritch,
"has partied beyond the call of duty."
Stritch saw the character as someone who has numbed herself to life's
sorrows, because she's had a few too many of them, including the loss of her
daughter. "Dolly has kicked up her heels and lived high all her life, but
now she's sort of given up," explains Stritch. "I see her as an escape
artist. She doesn't know how to face life on life's terms and she wants to be
there for her granddaughter but she just doesn't know how to do it. Intimacy
Stritch fell in love with the movie's powerful evocation of love. "I
found it a very interesting story about a person who's afraid to need
love," she comments. "There's a lot of subtext about what goes on in
human beings when they meet each other and it's filled with the emotions of real
Comments Winona Ryder: "Elaine Stritch is really a great American
treasure. I just tried to be a sponge and soak in as much as I could in her
presence. It was amazing to watch someone who could get to such an emotional
place so quickly and so deeply."
Dolly is not the only character in Autumn in New York who struggles with a
"lost" daughter. Will Keane has his own fateful meeting with the past
when he runs into a young woman who appears to have a connection to him.
Newcomer Vera Farmiga plays Lisa, the Museum employee with an unbreakable link
to Richard Gere's Will Keane.
To cast Lisa, the filmmakers invited Gere to be part of the proceedings.
"When Vera came in to read, Richard immediately said 'this is our person.'
And he was so right," comments producer Tom Rosenberg. "Vera is one of
those really special actresses who only come around once in a while and her
career is going to skyrocket."
Farmiga responded to Autumn in New York's exploration of a common human
dilemma: the need to be loved versus the fear of getting hurt. "Pursuing
love is a tricky sport," she admits. "In my experience it requires
energy, commitment, endurance and an ability to endure bruising ' so it's really
not Will Keane's favorite game until he meets his ultimate opponent:
As for her own character, Farmiga sees her as a woman looking not so much for
unconditional love as the truth. "To her, Will Keane is this myth of a man
she sees on magazine covers. But then she sees him at a benefit dance with
Charlotte, who is Lisa's age, and he's dancing and fooling around and being
loving and all these childhood feelings arise and she has to know who he
is," she explains.
Working closely with Richard Gere was the frosting on the cake for Farmiga.
"For me, he was just like Will Keane ' a myth I had seen in
magazines," she admits. "But working with him was a fabulous
experience. He makes you feel so comfortable and at ease, it's a real gift he
has. It was especially interesting watching him play a man who's so afraid to
love because Richard is so generous and so full of love. And he takes Will Keane
to that point."
Autumn is a time of haunting beauty and rapid change in New York, as the
summer leaves turn to gold and float through the city streets in preparation for
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