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The Cast And Characters
"As a story teller, a novelist, I don't think you can ever completely divorce yourself from your main characters,” says Peter Mayle. "Bits of you creep in there, whether you like it or not, whether it's intentional or not. Your characters are often reflections of what you yourself feel, and Max is representative of a very strong feeling that I had when I was his age, which is I wanted to basically get out of London and try something else. Of course, Max does it in a rather more dramatic fashion than I did.”

"You live with these characters by yourself all the time in your own head,” Marc Klein offers about the craft of screenwriting. "Then, you work with someone like Russell Crowe, who's a genius. He came to me in between takes and gave me ideas about the character. He inhabited his character in a way that's even deeper than I could have ever hoped.”

While looking for a vehicle on which to re-team with Ridley Scott, Crowe remembers chatting with the director during the production of ‘Gladiator' about getting together again for another film. "I enjoy working with Ridley because we have a really good rhythm together. We talked about what the next project could be, knowing we wanted to do something entirely different from ‘Gladiator.' So, we decided to work together on a comedy.”

"I always thought that Russell would be perfect for the character of Max,” Scott adds. "Russell is like Max. Russell carries a lot of the innocence in him and manages to keep that innocence fresh, untrammeled somehow.”

Crowe found much to dig into when he took on the role. "Max has had a fortunate childhood in that he had this wonderful bon vivant uncle who put all the information in him that he needed in order to become a good bloke. But, he's taken his uncle's advice on competition and edge and made it his life's mantra, to the point where competition isn't really any fun for him anymore.

"One of the key things that Ridley said to me when we first talked was, ‘There's a Provençal saying that you don't own the chateau; the chateau owns you,'” Crowe continues. "That's one of the things we worked on. Max must travel to Provence in order to receive his inheritance. From the time that he gets there, events conspire to keep him here. It's very definitely a fish-out-of-water/coming-of-age adult comedy with humanity, which gives it realism.”

While the film represented the second Crowe-Scott collaboration, it was the fourth reteaming for the director and five-time Oscar-nominee Albert Finney. The stage-and-screen legend essays the role of Uncle Henry, a character that existed in name only in Mayle's novel, but comes to life throughout the film.

Finney relates that he did not indulge in creating much backstory for the character, but acknowledges that a long-ago, fateful trip Henry made to the U.S. West Coast – a visit that is discussed but not depicted in the film – is an important part of the character's history. Another Au Max's inheritance of the property and his future at the chateau.

The actress, who did a videotaped audition for Scott only weeks before filming was to begin, is well-known Down Under but less so outside of her native country. She has been winning critical acclaim for several years for her work in such films as "The Monkey's Mask” and the sexual drama, "Somersault,” the only Australian film screened at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, where the actress won a standing ovation.

"Christie is a twenty-one year old American girl from the Napa Valley in California,” says Cornish, who hails from the Aussie wine region of the Hunter Valley near Sydney. "She learns that she has a birth father and that he's alive and lives in France. So, she makes the journey to his front door (which is when we meet Christie in the film). Unfortunately, she finds out the bad news about Henry, but me

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