“The Good Nurse” tells the true story of Charles Cullen, a seemingly empathetic New Jersey nurse who was later revealed to be a serial killer. But instead of a tawdry potboiler, this adaptation of Charles Graeber’s 2013 true-crime book is a fragile drama about the friendship between Charlie and one of his co-workers, a lonely, ailing single mother named Amy Loughren, who thought she’d found in this kindly stranger a support system and a confidant.
Amy befriends the new hire, in part, because she recognizes in Charlie the same warm, nurturing manner she herself exudes around her patients. But like the viewer, Amy is seeing only one aspect of this sweet, soft-spoken man: She’s not aware he’s secretly injecting lethal drugs into saline bags, resulting in a series of mysterious deaths at the hospital.
The film had been in development for several years, and for that entire time its two stars were determined to stay on the project. No matter how dark the material — and no matter how hard it was to align their schedules — Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastain wouldn’t let “The Good Nurse” go.
“I don’t know that in Hollywood that a movie’s been around for six years and all the main players stayed on and no one got replaced or abandoned ship,” Chastain says proudly.
The two actors are relaxing in a suite at the London West Hollywood, reflecting on the effort it took to bring the movie to fruition. From the start, they agreed they wouldn’t do it without each other — or “A Hijacking” director Tobias Lindholm, knowing he’d insist on utter authenticity for this portrait of working-class life and America’s dysfunctional healthcare system. (He even made his stars attend nursing school.)
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After three outings in the Potterverse, the Oscar-winning actor – and one of Hollywood’s nicest guys – is ready for his villain phase
Last summer, after he had wrapped his latest movie, The Good Nurse, and just before he began rehearsals for his Olivier-winning West End revival of Cabaret, Eddie Redmayne went back to school. Not university, or some kind of brush-up-on-the-classics adult education class, but rather, a very specific and very renowned academic institute – the École Internationale de Theatre Jacques Lecoq. Or, as it is more colloquially known, clown school.
For two weeks, in a converted 19th-century gymnasium in Paris, Redmayne took a course in the Theatre of the Absurd, where he spent his time, as he puts it, “improvising and playing.” But clown school is no funny business. The course was demanding, and his instructors, who’d studied with the legendary Lecoq themselves, were brutally honest, even withering. “There was none of this kiddie glove stuff,” Redmayne tells me as he does his impression of them. “Non, je ne marche pas!” he says, menacingly wagging a finger in front of his nose. No, I’m not buying it.
Redmayne’s classmates ranged in age from 18 to 60, all professional performers of some stripe or other. But Redmayne was the only one there who had won an Academy Award for Best Actor. He was the only one who had starred in a billion-dollar-grossing movie franchise. And yet, he felt like a complete amateur. That was the whole point. He wanted to start over, in a way, to expose himself, to really try and shed any of the actorly tics or patterns that had accrued over his 20-year career. “It was everything I needed,” he says of Lecoq. “To remind myself that you need to keep learning.”
We’re sitting in a hotel suite in Toronto, a couple of days after his 4-year-old son, Luke, has just started school himself for the first time back home in London. Redmayne’s an attentive and proud parent – he wouldn’t have missed Luke’s first day for anything – but he nevertheless had to fly out shortly after for the global premiere of The Good Nurse at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Redmayne’s family (which also includes his wife Hannah Bagshawe, a publicist, and their six-year-old daughter, Iris) had in fact lived with him in New York while he shot the film, but there was no way he was taking the kids out of school for the festival. “I didn’t think it was ideal for us all to up and leave on day two,” he says, smiling broadly.
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Eddie Redmayne’s children aren’t that impressed by his acting career. So he was caught off guard when his six-year-old daughter asked him if he was a wizard. Though she has never seen any of the “Fantastic Beasts” movies, in which Redmayne stars as Ministry of Magic employee Newt Scamander, she had just caught a bit of a trailer.
Redmayne tells Variety‘s Awards Circuit Podcast that he wasn’t sure how to respond. “That’s one of those moments in life where, partly you want to be the cool dad and go, ‘Yeah, I’m a wizard!’ and the other part of you doesn’t want to lie to your children and set them off in the wrong direction,” Redmayne recalls.
The Oscar winner then tried to showcase his sorcery skills. “I got out a coin and did a slightly shoddy magic trick to make the coin disappear and she was like, ‘Okay that’s good. But in that trailer I saw, you managed to make a building disappear.’ So I think she’s seen through my lack of wizarding prowess.”
On this edition of the award-winning Variety Awards Circuit podcast, Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”) talks about his new role in “The Good Nurse,” which has put him in the Oscar conversation for best supporting actor. He also discusses his time in “Fantastic Beasts” and what’s coming next. Listen below!
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