Lady Chatterley Production Notes
Last Update: 24 June 2002
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Filming on Lady Chatterley began at Wrotham
Park, Hertfordshire, in May 1992, and continued for 11 weeks,
ending up on the Isle of Wight. Wrotham - where the earlier Sylvia
Kristel adaptation had also been filmed - provided the locations
not only for Wragby Hall, but also the nearby mining village
of Tevershall, which designer James Merifield created around
some existing buildings on the estate. These were a happy discovery:
not only was there a large chimney already in place, but in one
of the buildings, the art department found an old mechanical
pump, which, with appropriate dressing , was pressed into service
for one scene.
To create the village, existing buildings
were mirrored with purpose-built sets to make streets, while
truckloads of tarmac were spread over the concrete farm yard
and dressed with heaps of coal. Once farm animals had been herded
elsewhere, the set was sprayed with water to give an extra blackness
to the coal and extras - including a Salvation Army band - put
in place, the transformation was complete.
Working with cinematographer, Robin Vidgeon,
and the art department team, Merifield turned a sunny June day
into misty November with the use of sack loads of dry leaves,
bracken and a smoke machine. Autumn gave way to Winter with a
sprinkling of salt; then this was removed and specially cultivated
daffodils imported to welcome in Spring. Such disregard for the
season proved a problem only for the cast, who were forced to
stand around in sweltering heat wearing thick overcoats and fur
hats, whilst the crew masterminded another startling transformation
dressed in shorts and T-shirts. The winter scenes in particular
were notable for the regular mopping of brows between takes.
Once the bulk of the scenes had been completed
at Wrotham, the production moved to woods in Oxfordshire, where
Mellors' work hut was constructed, and then on to Pinewood studios
for the interiors of the hut and Mellors' cottage. Finally the
crew packed everything up once more and departed for the Isle
of Wight to shoot the scenes at Sir Michael Reid's seaside house,
Mandalay. This move proved a particular challenge for location
manager Peter Elford; the short crossing from Southampton offered
the perfect opportunity to shoot the final scenes, in which Connie
and Mellors are reunited aboard ship, but this required detailed
planning, since there was no scope for repeated takes on a journey
of predetermined length.
In the event, no one could have anticipated
a severe storm which blew up during the day, obliterating almost
all daylight, and threatening to sweep cast and crew overboard.
Happily, however the necessary shots were completed against the
odds, and the production ended on schedule and budget.
Born in Sheffield, Yorkshire on 17 April
1959, Sean Bean came to the role of the gamekeeper Mellors fresh
from Hollywood success in PATRIOT GAMES opposite Harrison Ford.
Already a burgeoning star in the UK, he is rapidly establishing
himself as an international leading actor.
He was attracted to LADY CHATTERLEY, he says
by the fact that it was Lawrence's most famous novel. He was
also intrigued by the character. "Mellors is not really
at the surface," he says. "There are a lot of undertones
to him. These only emerge gradually as he falls in love with
Lady Chatterley. He's had a bad time out of life, really - certainly
a bad time out of women. That's why he has retreated into a little
world in the woods - his own domain where he can walk free and
get away from people."
"At first he resents it when Lady Chatterley
intrudes on this. But she brings out a lot in him, something
he has been long searching for - a love and a passion he's never
had. Although they are from different classes and different walks
of life, yet when they come together it just breaks down the
barriers. That's what I found so fascinating - the idea that
regardless of background and class there is a great passion and
love between them that nothing can break down."
Like Mellors and Lady Chatterley, Bean's own
background is very different from his co-star Joely Richardson's.
Whilst she comes from one of Britain's most distinguished theatrical
families, he has no roots in acting. "I can't think of anybody
else in my family who's an actor," he says, "I originally
wanted to be a painter. I got into acting through art, plus I
also loved reading.
"It's a big change: coming from Sheffield
it's not the sort of thing you tell your dad you want to do.
But once I got into RADA I did love it. My parents were great.
They were a bit shocked at first, but they were good about it."
Since leaving RADA, Bean's career has blossomed
rapidly. "I've been doing one thing after another, playing
different characters. It's nice to be able to go through the
ages as it were. From CLARISSA, which was 18th Century, right
up to the modern day. PATRIOT GAMES was the first film I've ever
done over in Hollywood. I did an American film called STORMY
MONDAY a few years ago, but this is the first thing I actually
"Harrison was really good to work with.
He's like a sort of hero. I had a lot of scenes with him, but
we did not have much dialogue, because we were fighting all the
time. We reshot the ending three times, so I kept having to fly
out again. The last time was just before we were about to start
on LADY CHATTERLEY. For continuity, they wanted me to have my
hair cut again - a crew cut - which would have been a big problem
for doing Mellors.
But in the end it wasn't the hair that was
a problem. 'I rang the LADY CHATTERLEY production and said,"I
got some good news and some bad news. I managed to keep my hair,
but I've split my eye open." I had eight stitches where
a boat hook hit me in the final fight scene.'
Bean still goes back to Hollywood for the
right script and the right director. "But I still think
we do the best work," he adds.
Born Joely Kim Richardson, in London, 9
January 1965. The daughter of the late film director Tony Richardson
and actress Vanessa Redgrave. She is also the granddaughter
of Sir Michael Redgrave, and the sister of Natasha. Joely Richardson
comes from one of Britain's largest and most distinguished theatrical
She herself trained at RADA, and since graduating
has established herself as one of the UK's leading film actresses.
She has also appeared regularly on television and in the theatre.
Now she plays one of literature's most famous
- and in some quarters infamous - women, Constance Chatterley.
The decision to accept the part, very shortly after the birth
of her first child, Daisy, stemmed from a powerful conviction
in the role. "The story has such a strength", she
explains. But with the scenes of love-making central to the story,
such a decision might have been ill-advised in anyone less physically
As it is, Richardson is keen to defend the
intimate scenes in LADY CHATTERLEY from the accusations of pornography
which were laid at the novel when it was first published, and
later to the film adaptation with Sylvia Kristel. "The nude
scenes may be explicit, but they are not titillating or voyueristic,"
she states, "You won't snigger this time - although you
might gasp." She is the first to admit that moral values
have changed significantly since the celebrated trial.
"Nowadays you can date and have boyfriends,
love-affairs or whatever - and only when you meet the right person
do you have to make a decision. Lady Chatterley just made a
decision to marry because she had to. It happened to be the
wrong one; regardless of her husband being paralysed it was never
going to work out."
Having already appeared in several Hollywood
films, Richardson returned to L.A. soon after filming on LADY
CHATTERLEY, where she spends equal time with the UK.
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