Jane Craig was a fast-talking, even faster-thinking, newswoman who worked so hard she had to pencil in her own crying jags. Six years later, Hunter has the second defining role of her career in "The Piano," which opens Wednesday at the County Theater in Doylestown.
The movie calls for Hunter to convey horrific emotional extremes. As Ada McGrath, a mute mail-order bride sent to New Zealand to live with a man she's never met, Hunter expresses terror, joy, revulsion and sexual satisfaction. Playing Ada appears to have pushed Hunter to a new level as an actress. And she was quite close to my natural heartbeat.
I think she was a bit faster-tempoed than I am, but it's not hard for me to be quicker than I am in real life. As I've gotten older and done a few more movies, what really appeals to me now are departures, things that will throw me into some state of confusion or chaos.
Then, I have to resort to skills that haven't been honed up to that point. And the HBO movie -- it was another tremendous departure for me. Hunter's character was from Texas and I'm from Georgia -- that was about the only vague similarity.
But ev erything else was a complete shift. I find things out when I have a challenge like that. I like feeling confused and even a little desperate about how to crack open a character.
There, Ada begins an arranged marriage with Stewart Sam Neill , a bachelor. When Stewart refuses to transport Ada's beloved piano back to his house, she is forced to strike a strange bargain with Baines Harvey Keitel , her illiterate neighbor.
He agrees to rescue her piano on the condition that she will allow him to do certain things to her while she plays. The deal is struck: Ada will win back her piano, key by key, "lesson" by "lesson. After the couple has sex, they fall in love, possibly in that order. We talked about it a lot and joked about it a lot. Jane and I would figure out what it is we wanted to do in the love scenes.
I want to do this. And I'm pleased with the way it is the movie. It's a very different view of sexual awakening. The story is allowed to be told.
Whereas the true principles of romanticism involve laying down your life for your passions. Most of us really don't want to live our lives that way. But people are alive because of their spirits, and stories like this can regenerate them.
As soon as she read the screenplay, she was entranced by the frank sexuality of the tale.