THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL
At THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, everything centers around the needs and
wishes of the residents -- which turn out be astonishingly tricky and diverse.
Marital Status: Newly widowed
Financial Status: Inherited her husband's mounds of hidden debt
Looking for: A job (and her first real taste of independence)
Evelyn thought she had a perfect marriage, but when her husband suddenly dies,
with his secret life of financial ruin, she starts to question everything about
her past and, more
importantly, her now uncertain future. Desperate to find a way out of her son's
offer to move in with
his family, she resolves to teach herself computer skills, and stumbles on the
website of the Marigold
Hotel. She knows that India will be nothing like her life in London, but as
daunting as it seems, it
offers her hope, and she consoles her incredulous son with the promise of a
Playing Evelyn is Dame Judi Dench, the Academy AwardÂ® winning leading lady who
knack for making every character she plays both real and transcendent. Dench
previously worked with
Madden on MRS. BROWN and SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, garnering as Oscar nomination for
first and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the latter.
"In this film, Judi plays a woman who is forced to take control of her future
when she has
never done so in her entire life," notes Madden.
"She is really the heart of the story," adds Graham Broadbent. "And like Judi,
Evelyn is the
most wonderfully sympathetic person."
Dench says of Evelyn's journey: "I think she feels she has nothing left to lose
when she finds
herself with no husband, no money and no real plan for the future, so she comes
to India and then fully
embraces it. That was not hard to act, because I found that being in India you
are drawn each day to
learning about the people and culture."
She adds: "This is a story I really wanted to be a part of, because it is about
people who don't
quite know what's going to happen to them at this point in their lives and yet
each discovers a different
answer. It was also an opportunity to work with people I know -- Maggie Smith,
Celia Imrie, Bill Nighy, Ronald Pickup, Tom Wilkinson and, of course, John
Madden - and a chance
for us to all be together for the first time."
Marital Status: A lifelong live-in housekeeper
Financial Status: The only thing she needs is a new hip
Looking for: The fastest way out of India
Muriel is a salty, opinionated, retired housekeeper who would have happily
stayed in her own
narrow little corner of the world - were it not for a pesky hip that forces her
to India for surgery. She
is quite convinced she will find the whole experience appalling until India
slowly starts to unseat her
assumptions. One of the world's most famed and distinguished actresses, multiple
winner Maggie Smith, takes on the crucial role of the woman who becomes the
Once he knew Smith was cast, screenwriter Ol Parker went to town with the
character. "It was
tremendous fun to write for Maggie, who has such a way with words, and it was
also one of the great
honors of my life," he says. "Muriel has a fear of all things foreign and a
hatred of going abroad, so
India starts out as her worst nightmare, but that makes the way she changes more
Continues John Madden: "Muriel is not an uncommon figure, anywhere, and
certainly not in
England: instinctively xenophobic, never stepping out of her comfort zone in any
way. Her journey is
one of the most interesting amongst the seven, as she struggles with the
unfamiliar. Ironically, she
forms a friendly relationship with the hotel's lower caste Indian housekeeper,
with whom of course she
finds she has something in common."
Graham Broadbent notes that it was Smith's ability to show subtle flashes of the
human compassion and curiosity underneath Muriel's intolerance that gives the
and poignancy. "Muriel's journey is very human and Maggie allows the audience to
come to love
her," he says. "Despite her sometimes cruel and unbending attitudes, you start
to see the very smart
and funny woman she can be from within."
Marital Status: Single and unattached
Financial Status: Well-heeled but at a cost to his joie de vivre
Looking for: A past he left behind
Graham is the only new resident at the Marigold Hotel with previous experience
in India, the
land where he grew up. After leading a life of conventional success and status
as a High Court judge,
he finds himself with just one burning thing left to do: come to terms with his
early life in India, and to
right a wrong which has haunted him ever since. Taking the role is Tom
Wilkinson, who garnered
Oscar nominations for his indelible roles in MICHAEL CLAYTON and IN THE BEDROOM.
Wilkinson says that Graham is drawn to India to make a full circle of his life.
"He's been a
judge his whole adult life, and now he's decided he's had enough of the law and
he goes to India to
rediscover his past, rediscover love and most of all, rediscover who he really
is," he says. "I found it
very interesting because it is a story that has to balance humor with emotion.
The hard part is that it
can't become sentimental because that's the enemy of a story like this."
Unlike his character, Wilkinson had never been to India before and found it both
and overwhelming. "It's a huge, variegated, complicated country with such a
mixture of beauty and
poverty that it is hard to take it all in," he observes. "But I think the film
gives a realistic impression
of all those contrasts. For Graham, India is full of memories of youth,
friendship and even now, love."
John Madden, who has worked with Wilkinson on several previous films, says that
character is someone who starts out no longer able to tolerate the stifling
conformity of the judicial
world, so he walks out of that life and returns to India, where he lived as a
child. What we don't realize
at first is that he is actually on a very personal kind of search for someone he
used to know, someone
who holds the key to issues that he needs to resolve to find peace. He's a very
rich character who
brings a very different color to the narrative."
Adds Graham Broadbent: "Tom really responded to something in this character.
he brought something extraordinary, a kindness and gentleness that I don't think
people have seen in
his roles before."
Marital Status: Married with children
Financial Status: Made the mistake of lending his retirement fund to his
Looking for: Ways to appease his wife . . . and, just maybe, a change
Douglas might be a mild-mannered government official, hen-pecked husband and
father who lent his daughter the money intended for his retirement, but in
India, he finds himself
shedding his repressed identity and becoming a rather different man. Taking on
this comic and subtle
transformation is Bill Nighy, the British actor who rose to global fame after
playing an aging rocker in
LOVE ACTUALLY and has gone on to roles in such blockbusters as the PIRATES OF
CARIBBEAN series and HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS.
"India gives a second chance to all of the characters," says Nighy of his
attraction to Douglas.
"He had a life in England that didn't suit
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