KATE & LEOPOLD
Finding Kate And Leopold
To find their Kate McKay, the filmmakers of KATE & LEOPOLD searched for an actor who could make the transformation from die-hard realist to won-over romantic in short order. They tapped into that protean ability in Meg Ryan, who has proven her talent to switch from comedy to drama to romance and back again with continued success.
"Meg is an incredibly talented dramatic actress who also possesses a unique gift for comedy," notes Mangold. "She gets the rhythms, verbal and physical, of comic acting and knows how to put those skills to work on the set
— not merely to garner laughs for her own character, but often getting laughs for the 'straight man."'
He continues: "You see, in many ways the sexual roles were flipped in this film. Unlike most films of this genre, the man, Leopold is the romantic, and the woman, Kate, is the cynic. Meg plays a driven corporate climber who, at least externally has given up on ideals and dreams of love. I think this edge in Kate is something new for Meg. Her character spends her life dissecting fairy tales and reducing them to formulae, yet the circumstances of the story force her to confront a fairy tale head on."
Ryan was fascinated by Kate's complexity "What I love about Kate is that she has these two different
sides to her. At home, she's heartbroken and lonely, and yet to the outside world she's this dynamic businesswoman who's got it together," she notes.
I love the contrast of that. And in that context, it's no wonder Leopold doesn't make sense to Kate. He's so gracious and gentlemanly, she's convinced he's another manufactured fantasy that will leave her feeling empty. But of course, she's blown away when she realizes he's the real thing."
Mangold was delighted by Ryan's depiction of a ladder-climbing executive who is hiding a lot more underneath her tailored business-suit. "Meg's Kate is someone who is dying for something honest, for something true, and yet at the same time she has to play the games we all have to play in order to get ahead in the rate race," he observes. "Meg really let's the core of Kate be revealed."
Adds Cathy Konrad: "Meg has the skills to carry off the pratfalls of physical comedy but she combines that with a shining intelligence. We're used to seeing her as the girl-next-door type but here she's someone more sophisticated, more urban, a little more cynical until this surprise man comes into her life and gets her spinning in an entirely new direction."
Ryan was equally excited about working with Mangold She comments: "I trusted
him implicitly He's a real actor's director and so smart. He included everybody
in the process and made us feel empowered. He did everything that I think a strong director needs to do
- he eat ideas and was able to elevate them simply and clearly"
In the end, Meg Ryan sees Kate as someone who at last finds the courage to dash her reliance on tangible realities and go after a dream. "She finally decides to go all the way for love and makes the switch from head logic to heart logic. She literally takes a leap," observes Ryan. "She might be the quintessential modern woman but I think she discovers that deep down inside true love is timeless."
To have Kate make that discovery, the filmmakers knew they would need an equally believable Leopold
- no simple task given Leopold's 19th century way of talking in grand poetic statements. What actor could carry that off believably? Happily the filmmakers found their man in the relative newcomer Hugh
Jackman, the latest screen import from Down Under, who evinced an unmistakably royal stature and heartfelt honesty.
Explains Mangold: "Hugh is an amazing actor and entirely unique in this day and age. He just has the essence of great movie stars of the past. There are times that you can see Errol Flynn or Cary Grant in him." Adds Konrad "We wanted someone entirely fresh, someone the audience could discover alo
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