Eddie Redmayne gets serious again

We sat in a hotel suite in Toronto a couple of days after his son Luke, aged 4, has finally started attending his school in London. Redmayne is a caring parent and wouldn’t miss Luke’s first day for anything in the world, but soon after he had to leave home and fly to the world premiere of The Good Nurse to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Redmayne’s family also comprised of his wife Hannah Bagshawepublicist, and their daughter Iris of six years, followed him to New York during the shooting of the film, but they did not think it appropriate to make the children lose the phase of acclimatization to school for the festival. “I didn’t think we should all leave together on the second day of the start of the lessons,” she says, smiling sweetly, thinking of her children.

The kindness of Redmayne is well known and incredible, like that of George Clooney, Hugh Jackman And Tom Hanks. He was busy with the press all morning and our interview hour would inevitably extend into lunch, yet he greeted me with such enthusiasm that I feared I was mistaken for room service. Redmayne has already been to TIFF five times, but after two years of pandemic purgatory all the usual aspects of a festival, from traditional red carpets, to crowds of fans looking for selfies, to journalists who exhaust you with their barrage of questions. , have acquired, at least for him, a new intense flavor.
He said he was genuinely excited to be back, as well as to have the opportunity to face this particular chat. “I’ve never given a proper interview,” he says, snuggling into an armchair with one Diet Coke in hand. “Talking about a film you really believe in is a rather rare opportunity.”

The film in question represents, in some ways, a turning point for Redmayne. First, he plays the role of a rotten man inside: the infamous American nurse Charles Cullen which killed as many as 400 patients during the 1990s and early 2000s. Cullen murdered his victims by poisoning them with routine drugs such as insulin. His murderous fury was consumed in slow motion, silent, insidious and, above all, incomprehensible. He was an experienced healthcare professional, entrusted with the lives of the sick and infirm, but also a person considered by many to be deeply empathetic, committed and even funny. However, the man who now lives in a New Jersey prison where he is serving 18 consecutive life sentences remains the most prolific serial killer in US criminal history.

Cullen he was a suicidal, alcoholic psychopath, the product of a lonely and violent childhood. In the film, elements of his past are barely hinted at, but never deepened and for much of the film, Redmayne he plays him in the form of an affable character dressed in the classic cardigan of the famous Protestant pastor on American TV Mister Rogers. A nice guy, so to speak. Sequence after sequence, however, a decidedly more evil side emerges. “Charlie really had two opposite personalities about him,” Redmayne observes. Those who know him have described him as “dissociated” and as this emerged, his eyes went in different directions. “I spent about three days in the mirror trying to do it,” Redmayne recalls, laughing. “In the end, I thought, ‘Fuck it’ and I made my version.”

In photos and videos, the serial killer appears as a beaten dog with dull eyes and neatly shaved ash-colored hair. The forty-year-old Redmayne, on the other hand, is incredibly handsome, with competitive cheekbones, full lips and a jaw worthy of entering the history of architectural masterpieces. Yet, in person, his features appear both delicate and exaggerated. This gives him a vaguely alien aspect and in the dark light of the film, where most of the scenes take place at night in the halls of a hospital, his resemblance to Cullen is disturbing.

In any case, the protagonist of The Good Nurse is Amy Loughren, a trusted friend and colleague of Cullen who manages, step by step, to reconstruct the dynamics of his crimes and helps the police to frame him. In the film, Loughren is played by the winner of theOscar 2022 Jessica Chastain able to shape a character with a splendid mix of sensitivity, courage and fortitude. Although the script focuses on building complex characters and in the case of Cullen with a split personality, it should not be forgotten that it is also a portrait of a failing healthcare system in which a psychopathic monster can wreak havoc for many years while his actions are being taken. covered by a sclerotic medical facility that fears the possibility of facing and losing a lawsuit more than the lives of its own patients. Despite the horrific nature of the subject matter, the film is extremely discreet and most of the horror takes place off-screen. At its best, it can feel like an episode of American Crime Story directed by Robert Bresson.

Eddie Redmayne gets serious again