THE COMPANY YOU KEEP
Julie Christie -- Mimi Lurie
Since bursting onto the scene in 1965 with her Oscar-winning performance in
John Schlesinger's Darling, Julie Christie has remained a perennial force in motion
pictures. With a career spanning over fifty years and over fifty film and television
projects, the British actress has starred in such popular and critically acclaimed hits as
David Lean's Doctor Zhivago, Francois Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451, Schlesinger's Far
from the Madding Crowd, Robert Altman's McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Nicolas Roeg's
Don't Look Now, Hal Ashby's Shampoo, along with more recent films like Harry Potter
and the Prisoner of Azkaban (for director Alfonso Cuaron) and Catherine Hardwicke's
2011 film, Red Riding Hood, with Amanda Seyfried.
Still, it was Christie's performance as a woman suffering from Alzheimer's in
Away From Her which caught the attention of Robert Redford (the film was featured at
Sundance), the industry and audiences alike. It also marked Christie's fourth Oscar
nomination in 2008, along with Golden Globe, SAG and National Board of Review
awards for her performance.
"I had always admired Robert Redford for his work, his environmental activities
and of course, his amazing achievement with Sundance," says Christie, who welcomed
the overdue opportunity to work with Redford on screen. Indeed, while the two veteran
performers had started their careers at roughly the same time, neither had worked
together until Redford cast the British actress in THE COMPANY YOU KEEP.
Here, Christie stars as committed radical Mimi Lurie. Like Redford's Jim Grant,
Lurie is also a former member of the Weather Underground, living under various false
identities since becoming a fugitive as a young woman. Unlike Grant, however, she
remains unrepentant about her past, while holding the key to her former lover's future.
"In the film, she's perceived as a terrorist because of her activities in the 70s,"
says Christie of the character. "They were targeting these particular institutions, to cast
light on what was going on in Vietnam, because the nonviolent action they were involved
in seemed to be going nowhere."
"From her own perspective she's gone underground and remained underground
because she believes that to hand herself over would be collaborating with those very
forces she's been fighting; an acceptance of their mores, which she deplores," Christie
explains. "She would be perceived by a lot of people as having tunnel vision, when in
fact she has enormous vision. The problem with 'enormous vision' though is that you
can see all sides of the equation and you have to choose out of all those sides... You
choose what you think is the most effective way of operating, whereas most people
follow what they are told to follow. That's the real tunnel vision."
Known for her own, at times controversial, political views, Christie could
empathize with the character while simultaneously noting the need of making a "stretch"
to portray her. "In the end what she has is enormous integrity," says the acclaimed
actress. "I would say, 'painful' integrity, because integrity is a painful business."
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