Stephen Daldry

The Hours

Interviewed by Anwar Brett

Stephen Daldry made his name as a stage director with the Royal Court Theatre before branching out into cinema. His debut movie, "Billy Elliot", was nominated for three Academy Awards and 12 BAFTAs, winning Best Film at the British film awards. With his second feature, "The Hours", Daldry's dream of Oscar glory might just come to pass...

Was it very difficult finding the right project with which to follow the success of "Billy Elliot"?

Well, I was reading a lot of screenplays at the time, and the great thing about this script was that it didn't seem like any other film. And the thing I loved about Michael Cunningham's book, which David Hare's script is based upon, is that it described so brilliantly the difficult choices that we make in order to make our lives possible, and the moments of joy we must grab when they happen.

Is it possible for you to compare and contrast the style and approach of your three leading ladies: Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore?

Nicole was always up for as much rehearsal as she could get. Meryl needed to have the real things with her, the real textures to work with. She was less happy in the rehearsal room than on set. And Julianne would always be slightly anxious about over-rehearsing, she didn't want to know too much so that she couldn't surprise herself.

But these are minor differences. Their similarities struck me much more than their differences.

There seem to have been quite a few literary-based films lately. Do you feel you're riding the crest of a wave of public interest?

It's hard to say. But I do find it thrilling when you go onto Amazon and see that "Mrs Dalloway" is back in at number four on the international bestseller list. That's amazing, it still makes me go "wow". Michael Cunningham is back in at number one, but Virginia Woolf is at number nine! To be honest, anything that makes people read books is a great thing. I just remember a time when people would talk about the fact that books could and would change your life. I think this has gone out of fashion, but anything that brings those books back to the fore is great.