Dido's Love: John Davinier
When Dido Belle first meets the legal apprentice John Davinier, she is turned
off by his unrefined behavior, but that disinterest soon turns to a deep, life
altering passion. To play the film's spirited version of Davinier, in all his
zealous idealism, the filmmakers cast rising young actor Sam Reid, who recently
played Tolbert McCoy in the award-winning "Hatfields & McCoys" mini-series and
will be seen this year in THE RAILWAY MAN and SERENA.
Reid was intrigued by how the filmmakers had envisioned Davinier, who left
behind little history aside from his marriage certificate to Dido Belle. "They
created John as a kind of early human rights activist," he notes.
He also loved that that even as Davinier chases Dido, he is trying to impress
his idol Lord Mansfield. Says Reid, "When we meet him, he wants to be Lord
Mansfield. Although John is a little rambunctious, I think Mansfield recognizes
his passion for humanity and his passion for the law. But Mansfield is more
pragmatic. John wants to change the world, but he's very emotional and he
doesn't yet have a good grasp on how to use the law to do that, which Mansfield
Ultimately the two men clash, both over the Zong slave ship case and Dido.
Indeed when Davinier and Lord Mansfield fail to see eye to eye, Dido becomes
more and more attracted to this obstinate but principled man. Says Asante, "She
starts to move in John's world - and John's is a world of intellectuals and
revolutionaries - people who want to make an impact."
Asante says she wanted to emphasize the similarities in the two men's
personalities. "It was very important for me that John be a mirror image of Lord
Mansfield," she says, "John Davinier is really a reminder to Lord Mansfield of
who he used to be before he became a part of the establishment. They have great
similarities and that's why they love Dido, and that's why Dido is able to love
Reid observes that Davinier's love for Dido takes the character by surprise.
"They don't initially get on," he points out. "They're both at a moment in their
lives where they're so bullheaded about their beliefs, that they don't
understand each other. It's only through talking about the Zong trial that they
begin to see eye-to-eye and start to fall in love."
He goes on: "But their love story becomes about pure human emotion. In their
hearts, it doesn't have anything to do with social standing or race - it's
something deeply visceral. The way Gugu plays Dido there is both a powerful
strength and an amazing vulnerability to her that made it easy to fall in love
with her." ,,
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