TEACHING MRS. TINGLE
The Teacher: Mrs. Tingle
To play Eve Tingle in all her spiteful glory.
Williamson chose Helen Mirren -in part because she seemed so unlikely
for the role. Best known for her Oscar-nominated work in lavish
British period dramas and her Emmy Award-winning work as Inspector
Jane Tennison in the acclaimed "Prime Suspect" television
series, Mirren was totally unexpected as a contemporary symbol
of educational evil. Says Mirren: "This is not the sort of
film that I'm usually associated with so I was thrilled that Kevin
would think of me for this role."
Impressed with Williamson's mix of comedy, thrills and psychological
savvy in the script, Mirren saw the story of Mrs. Tingle as being
about the most frightening and very real adolescent rite of passage:
facing the future. "For me TEACHING MRS. TINGLE addresses
teenagers' insecurities, ambitions and fears about the future,"
she explains. "Remembering back to the ages of Leigh Ann,
Luke and Jo Lynn, fear of the future is the most powerful thing
driving you on. You don't know what's going to happen to you and
it's terrifying. I think adults forget how scary that is.
But Mrs. Tingle hasn't forgotten how scary it is; on the contrary,
she uses that fear to her own slick advantage when the stakes
become higher, manipulating Leigh Ann, Luke and Jo Lynn with savage
"I think Helen Mirren is one of the greatest living actresses
that we have," says Williamson, "and the fact that she
wanted to play this role was amazing. She elevated Mrs. Tingle
to a new level."
Michael McKean, who plays Mrs. Tingle's principal, sums up the
teacher's personality this way: "She's pure tyranny, the
kind of woman who thinks she's obviously more intelligent than
anybody else, who loves intimidating others. She could kill a
man at twenty paces with her tongue. She's the bane of my existence...and
everybody else's. And this story is about killing the Mrs. Tingle
inside all of us that keeps us from being our best by making us
face the worst."
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