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AMELIA

Amelia's Loves
The whole world fell in love with Amelia Earhart, but her relationships with two men in particular would help to further her career and drive her fame. The first was the man who helped to forge her public image and would become her husband: George Palmer Putnam. Born to the founder of the publishing house G.P Putnam's Sons, George led his own life of adventure before he met Amelia. He studied at Harvard, led National Geographic expeditions, served as the Mayor of Bend, Oregon and managed several newspapers, then took over the family publishing business with a bang: releasing Charles Lindbergh's autobiography We. It was in 1928, while looking for a woman to become the first to fly across the Atlantic, that George met a then unknown Amelia Earhart. They were married in 1931, by which time she was already one of the most famous people in the world.

Golden Globe® winner Richard Gere found Putnam a fascinating historical personality. "He was one of those controversial characters a lot of people disliked, but Amelia didn't. She obviously loved this guy and that interested me,” he explains. "I wanted to know more about their bond. What did they see in each other in their private lives that maybe nobody else could see? What made them fit together? They were two very self-directed, strong, focused people and one of the quirks of fate is that they happened to run into each other at just the right time.”

Gere was also intrigued by the way Putnam seemed to intuit how Earhart's personality could take on a life of its own – becoming the tool that would finance her record-setting flights and keep the public always wanting to see and know more about her. "There was a kind of Barnum & Bailey aspect to him, the way he plucked Amelia from obscurity and came up with this whole ‘Lady Lindy' image,” he says. "There were other women flyers who may have been better or more beautiful, but I think what George saw in Amelia was that she was so genuine in her love of flying and so approachable, that she would be embraced as a role model for all women.”

Mira Nair says that she saw a new quality emerging in Gere in the role of George. "Of course Richard always has great charisma,” she observes, "but I think he also now exudes a real sense of calm and authority which was a great match for this role. He gave a very meditative type of performance – and there was a palpable chemistry that emerged between him and Hilary.”

Once on the set, the highlight for Gere became working with Swank. "She's so perfect for this part because her instincts are the same as Amelia's – it's just natural for her to take risks and avoid clichés. She also has that basic trustworthiness, that way of saying ‘I might be a little goofy, but that's me.'”

That helped in recreating the unique link that Amelia and George shared, no matter how unconventional their marriage. Says Gere: "The scenes between us have a subtle, emotional vibration. These were two people who were trying to be the best they could but still sometimes hurt each other.” Some of that hurt emerged from Amelia's free spirit, which she warned George about openly before marrying him. Nevertheless, her close relationship with the pilot Gene Vidal, with whom she would found Northeastern Airlines, further complicated their marriage.

Vidal was another intriguing early 20th century character. Now best known as the father of famed writer Gore Vidal, Gene taught Aeronautics at West Point, founded three American airlines and served as the Director of the Bureau of Air Commerce from 1933-1937. To play him, Nair chose Ewan McGregor, the Scottish actor known for a diversity of roles, ranging from the gritty indie hit TRAINSPOTTING to Obi Wan-Kanobi in the STAR WARS prequels. "Ewan is so dashing,” says Nair. "He exudes that kind of cool Cary Grant grace and formality that yo

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