Director Jonathan Teplitzky’s The Railway Man, his filming of Eric Lomax’s autobiography, has been his passion project for a while.
When Teplitzky and Patti Lomax (played by Nicole Kidman onscreen) recently discussed the film, he explained how he had the production ready to go when he visited Adelaide in late 2011 to promote his previous effort, Burning Man. Yes, it was getting pretty close. We’d spent months doing prep, and we were about to start.” Lomax then describes how she felt when contacted about filming Eric’s book: “It wasn’t Jonathan who first called me: it was Anand Tucker [of And When Did You Last See Your Father?]… Eric had written his bestselling autobiography, and Anand and his producers developed it for about 12 years.” “That’s right,” Teplitzky interjects, “before I came on board”, and Lomax continues, “and Anand, who was a friend of Jonathan’s, had to do another movie. And so Jonathan became involved.” She also says that although “you can’t guarantee any film will be a success”, she’s very happy with how The Railway Man has turned out: “We trusted the team and we liked the actors [Colin Firth and Kidman].” Teplitzky agrees: “I think that that was because the process took so long that strong relationships were built, and real trust. Patti and Eric [who died in 2012] had read drafts of the script. It was a very close thing between Patti and Eric and me and the writers and the cast and crew: we all wanted to be involved, and we were all astounded by Patti and Eric’s story.” “Absolutely!” Patti concurs, “Eric and I weren’t filmmakers, so we had to trust the experts!” Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman Did Lomax approve of the casting of Kidman? “She was better than I hoped! I’m well-acquainted with her and call her a friend. She did exceedingly well. We met her when Colin bought her to our home in Northumberland, and we ended up in our garden discussing the lack of bees and how late the roses were that season. We have a great rapport.” “Yes, you’re good friends,” states Teplitzky, “and I think people do forget what a great actress Nicole is. She’s warm, giving and very intelligent, and brings a lot to our film.” Teplitzky says that there was intensity on the set: “Particularly for Colin. In some ways he didn’t have to do some of the hard stuff, as an actor, as Jeremy [Irvine, in flashbacks] does that [in the World War II sequences], but Colin still brings psychological complexity to the role. But there was that camaraderie between us all too, as we knew that we were bringing to life something substantial.” Finally, Teplitzky and Lomax agree that The Railway Man, with its themes of posttraumatic stress and whether one can forgive, comes at an important moment in history (almost 70 years since the end of World War II and almost 100 since Gallipoli). Teplitzky: “The victors and the defeated in wars both need to re-find their humanity, and to remember what it was they were fighting for.” Lomax: “This film isn’t about us: it’s about everyone who fought, and those who tried to love and care for them when they returned.” Rated M. Opens December 26