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Look out for more coverage of
Calendar Girls in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Calendar Girls

THE STARS:
Helen Mirren • Julie Walters
DIRECTOR: Nigel Cole

Calendar Girls THE CONCEPT:
Based on a true story of a group of fifty-something women, who conceived the idea of doing their yearly calendar, for the Rylstone and District Women’s Institute, in the nude – with photos of the women engaged in traditional activities, including cake baking and flower arranging. The calendar, which was published in the hope of raising a few pounds for the local hospital, sold nearly 300,000 copies, raising nearly £600,000 for leukemia charities.

U.S. RELEASE: December 19 2003, limited
• Rated: PG-13

THE COMMENTS:

HELEN MIRREN:
“My first reaction with this was I just wanted to play the character that was on the page. And I think Nigel felt that that was the right approach. He didn’t want us to do impersonations of the real people. Having said that, when I did meet the real women, it was terribly important to take the spirit of them on board. Until you meet them, you just can’t believe that a group of women could have quite that much fun.”

JULIE WALTERS:
“I think the fact that they did a calendar, and they took their clothes off, and they’re women in their fifties, which is completely unusual, puts out a great message – that beauty is not just about youth. The beauty is in who you are and the life that you’ve lived.”

NIGEL COLE:
“It was my idea that the girls meet someone unexpected around the pool in Hollywood. Someone said, ‘I know one of the guys in Anthrax,’ and I said, ‘Get them down here.’ On the day they were to film, they were late. This was last summer, when L.A. still had high security everywhere after September 11th. At one stage, when they were late, I heard the assistant director say on his walkie-talkie to everybody, ‘We have Anthrax in the building.’ I said, ‘Don’t say that!’ I really expected to see helicopters and people rioting, because this was broadcast all over the hotel.”

MIRREN on shooting the nude scenes:
“I think it was hard for Celia (Imrie). She was the first and we were all like clucking hens around her. But you can also be overly protective, because at some point you just have to say, ‘Oh, come on, get on with it. Take it off. It’s not the end of the world.’ As each person’s photo shoot took place, we would always gather together in Celia’s dressing room, we would always have five or six bottles of champagne, and we would toast the person who had just done their shot. We transformed it into a fun thing.”

WALTERS:
“It was much quicker if you didn’t try to be modest. It’s much easier to do it, get it over with, and then have a glass of champagne.”

MIRREN:
“It was exactly like being at school, only much better because we didn’t have any homework and we could drink at night. As an actress, you mostly find yourself with men. But it was really good fun to be with a group of women. It’s the first time it’s ever happened in my professional career, and I really loved it, and I think that we will stay very good friends for the rest of our lives.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Visit the official Calendar Girls site
Images above © Touchstone Pictures
Feature © 2003 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #638, December 2003 cover

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