Interview by James Mottram; previously published on BBC Movies.
Last updated: 01 December 2008
How did you find the Greek heatwave while you were filming Captain Corelli's Mandolin?
It was excessive. There were days out there when it was apparently 125 degrees. We were in period grab, which is not heat-friendly. Heavy wool was what the soldiers wore. That was incredibly hot and heavy. They would also wear a number of sweaters, because they'd go from that intense heat to the mountains, which was below freezing.
It did get overwhelming on occasions. There were a few times when all the motors went out because the heat had made the generators expire so there was no air conditioning. We were just sitting there, and all you could hear were the crickets. It did feel like death.
There were reports that you weren't happy on set.
Oh, that was Internet chatter. Of course, it would be nice to swim with dolphins, but I knew that scene wasn't in the screenplay when I first met John. You make one tiny comment that you'd like to swim with dolphins, and they made it into some big thing that I was hugely disappointed with the movie - which was complete nonsense.
What do you think of Mandras?
He's somebody whose best way of communicating is not through language; he's far more visual. He lives an idyllic lifestyle, at one with nature. The idea of Mandras is very appealing to Pelagia. The reality of him is fun and enjoyable - there's a nice passage in the book where Mandras talks about the fact that he has a lot of thoughts going on.
He has opinions about things, but he just gets a strange sensation whenever he's around her, and he finds himself hanging from trees and pretending to be a monkey. He can't help himself. He always wants to play. He sees the war as his first introduction to the world.
Inevitably, it's completely confusing, but he doesn't realise that. He very sincerely wants to fight for his people and his land. He has this romantic notion where he will come back and everyone will see him as vital. What he doesn't account for is that fact that the town will be completely changed when he returns from the war.