5.3 Cast

5.3.1 Melanie Lynskey

[Mir,aa] Melanie Lynskey (Pauline Parker) was discovered by the filmmakers after an exhaustive nationwide search in which they looked for a young actress who closely resembled the real-life Pauline. She makes her motion picture debut in "Heavenly Creatures." Lynskey brings to her role, in addition to her charm and intelligence, a strong commitment to an acting career. Fifteen-year-old [in mid-'93] Lynskey, a native of New Plymouth, New Zealand, has been involved in school drama for several years and eagerly anticipates the moment she will be before the cameras again.

By far the most challenging and difficult role to cast was that of Pauline Parker. In casting the roles of Pauline and Juliet, Peter was adamant that he did not want twenty-year-old actresses playing sixteen-year-olds. The actresses he was looking for had to be between fifteen and seventeen years of age--and able to act. Casting director Liz Mullane began a nationwide search traveling the length and breadth of New Zealand scouring drama clubs, talent agencies and secondary schools, auditioning a total of five hundred girls. Finally, after narrowing it down to two girls, Jackson was still not happy.

With production starting in just four weeks, Jackson asked for the search for Pauline to continue. Liz Mullane went to Auckland to continue the search, and sent an associate, Bryce Campbell, to northern New Zealand with Fran Walsh. While exploring lower North Island secondary schools, the pair struck gold when they found fifteen-year-old ingenue Melanie Lynskey. They immediately contacted Jackson who recalls "I remember Fran ringing me up one night when I was in Christchurch well into pre-production on the film to say they'd found someone very interesting, that I ought to meet her right away."

Lynskey came to her role in "Heavenly Creatures" as a complete unknown without any prior acting experience from her hometown of New Plymouth, New Zealand. Before filming began, Lynskey and Winslet had an intensive two-week rehearsal period with Jackson, much of which was spent exploring character development and experimenting with scenes. "It was vital that the two actresses should like each other off-screen as well as on. Fortunately, Kate and Mel clicked straight away, and their off- screen friendship really strengthened their performances," comments Jackson.

5.3.2 Kate Winslet

[Mir,aa,mkf] Seventeen-year-old [in mid-'93] English actress Kate Winslet (Juliet Hulme) grew up in a family of actors and has been performing since she was thirteen years old. She has considerable experience in the theater including the lead roles of Pandora in the musical "Adrian Mole," Wendy in "Peter Pan," and Sarah in "A Game of Soldiers." She made her television debut in the British television drama "Shrinks" and has appeared in "Anglo-Saxon Attitudes," "Dark Season," and "Casualty." She currently has a recurring role in the ongoing series, "Get Back" and lives in London.

In a desire to remain as close to the facts as possible in the telling of this story, Jackson insisted on casting the Hulme family out of England. Producer Jim Booth contacted English casting agents John and Ros Hubbard who rounded up 175 young women to audition for the part of Juliet Hulme. Only one stood out. Kate Winslet, a young seventeen-year-old actress from Reading, bears an uncanny resemblance to the real Juliet, and Jackson decided she was perfect for the part. "Kate impressed me straight away as an actress with enormous range. She threw herself into the role with an energy and enthusiasm and spent many hours researching Juliet's character," says Jackson.

Kate's next project is Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility," a story of "two sisters, love and nineteenth- century mores" according to Lindsay Doran, who is producing the film. Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant are starring, and this is to be Ms. Thompson's maiden voyage at the helm, as well.

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