New Friends And Old Foes
With her divorce decree in hand, Tess has set a new course for her life, working on the fabulous luxury yacht Precious Gem, owned by billionaire Nigel Honeycutt. To the delight of the filmmakers, award-winning actor Donald Sutherland accepted the role of the wealthy tycoon, who got more than he bargained for when he hired Tess to serve as a steward on his yacht.
De Line, who previously collaborated with Sutherland on "The Italian Job," says, "I've been fortunate to work with Donald Sutherland twice now, and he brings something special with him every time he walks onto a set. We were thrilled when he loved the script and the role. Everyone knew he was a brilliant actor, but then he wrote a beautiful, impassioned letter about how he saw the character of Nigel and that just sealed the deal. It was really something."
"There are times in a director's life when you meet actors that transcend their roles, and working with Donald was one of those times," states Tennant. "This is a man who has done an amazing amount of work. He doesn't have anything to prove and yet he came to the read-through and had the entire script memorized--not just his lines or his scenes, he knew the whole script. It was just amazing and it immediately raised the bar for everybody else. He is not only a consummate professional, he is a fascinating guy. I could listen to him talk all day, so it was quite a treat to work with him and to spend time with him off the set."
Tess had just begun to believe that she had made a clean break from Finn when, to her utter consternation, he manages to finagle his way on board the Precious Gem with a daring at-sea rescue of a wind-driven hat belonging to Nigel's spoiled celebutante daughter, Gemma.
Gemma is played by up-and-coming actress Alexis Dziena, who, Tennant says, "has a real gift for comedy and is as sweet as they come. When we were casting the role, Alexis came into the room and was just the best of the bunch. She was fun and funny and nailed the character, so it was an easy decision on my part to cast her."
Dziena observes that while, at first glance, Gemma might appear somewhat shallow, there is more to her character than meets the eye. "The challenge with this character was to make sure she was coming from a positive place and did not come off completely vain and one-dimensional. One of the things Andy and I talked about was her 'Gemma-isms,' the little things she comes up with that define her more than what was on the page. We also had a really fun time defining the character by the outfits she wears. She has very expensive taste, so I got to wear things I couldn't afford to buy."
Costume designer Ngila Dickson offers, "We wanted to make Gemma as outrageous as we possibly could, in contrast to Tess, who is more sporty and practical. We could get very creative, even with Gemma's swimwear, like that red-stripe suit with the suspenders, which just jumped out at me. It was perfect for the character, so we dropped everything else and put her right into it."
Dziena adds that another side of Gemma emerges through her relationship with her father. "I think it's one of those things where you love someone and you know they love you, but you don't quite know how to interact. They haven't spent a whole lot of time together over the years and have never really talked about things. I wouldn't say they have an estranged relationship as much as an awkward one."
Once on board the Precious Gem and having earned the eternal gratitude of Gemma for the salvation of her hat, Finn sees a golden opportunity to get new backing for his treasure hunt. Before long, he is enthralling Nigel and Gemma with the story of the doomed 18th-century ship the Aurelia and her lost cargo, the legendary Queen's Dowry. Finn's zeal reignites Tess's own, and their shared passion proves infectious, leading Nigel and Gemma to join enthusiastically in the quest.
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