In an age of invention, one man set out to find a medical cure for what ails women... and accidentally electrified our love lives forever. HYSTERIA is a lighthearted romantic comedy that tells the surprising story of the birth of the electro-mechanical vibrator at the very peak of Victorian prudishness. Academy Award® nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal (CRAZY HEART, NANNY McPHEE RETURNS) and Hugh Dancy (ADAM, CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC) lead an accomplished cast in this untold tale of discovery.
London, 1880. MORTIMER GRANVILLE (Hugh Dancy), a dedicated and forward-thinking young doctor, is struggling to establish his career. While Granville preaches sanitation and germ theory, the old guard of doctors cling to leeches and hacksaws, scoff at his upstart ideas, and show him the door.
Granville's fortunes change when he arrives for an interview at the well-appointed private offices of DR. ROBERT DALRYMPLE (Jonathan Pryce), London's leading specialist in women's medicine. Dalrymple has a thriving solo practice; indeed, his waiting room is overflowing with well-dressed women suffering "weeping, nymphomania, frigidity, melancholia, and anxiety" – afflictions of the female nervous system thought to stem from a disorder of the uterus known as "hysteria." Fortunately, enlightened medicine has shown that hysteria can be treated by relieving tensions within the womb, and Dalrymple's treatments are so successful that, as he explains to Granville, "another pair of hands" is his urgent need. Granville is hired on the spot.
Granville's improved lot in life makes him a worthy suitor for Dalrymple's daughter EMILY (Felicity Jones), whom Granville considers "the epitome of English virtue and womanliness" with her lovely face, demure manner, and artistic and intellectual accomplishments. As dutiful and proper a daughter as is Emily, her elder sister CHARLOTTE (Maggie Gyllenhall) is the opposite: she's a firebrand social reformer, arguing passionately for women's rights to be educated, vote, and live independent lives unshackled by domestic drudgery. And yet, she works long and hard herself, running a settlement house for poor women and children in London's East End, dashing around London on her bicycle, cajoling her disapproving father for a bit more money to keep the coal furnace running and the schoolroom open. Dalrymple is dismayed by Charlotte's progressive views and lower-class associations; Charlotte is scornful of her father's medical practice that profits from, as she sees it, the imaginary problems of affluent women.
Although Granville is somewhat shocked by Charlotte's lack of propriety, he feels kinship with her conviction to help those in need. They snipe at each others' views, but he earns her grudging respect when he treats a poor settlement house woman with a broken ankle.
Just as Granville's life seems to be settling into prosperity and security, engaged to Emily with the prospect of partnership in Dalrymple's lucrative practice, his hopes are dashed by an affliction of his own: hand cramps. Granville's dextrous massage therapy, which requires "steady, constant pressure," has caused what in the present day would be call "repetitive stress syndrome." Granville finds himself unable to perform his duties satisfactorily. He loses his job and, with it, his fiancee.
Granville seeks refuge with his lifelong friend, the eccentric and wealthy EDMUND St. JOHN SMYTHE (Rupert Everett), whose passion is newfangled technology (he has a telephone installed before Buckingham Palace does). Smythe has been tinkering with an invention of his own, an electric feather-duster powered by a rumbling electic generator installed in his parlor. Absent-mindedly handling the duster, Granville is struck by how pleasurable the sensation of the machine's steady vibration feels in his hand, and a brilliant idea takes hold. A few simple adjustments, a bit of experimentation, and the world's first electric vibrating massager is created.
Granville and Smythe convince Dalrymple to try out the innovation on his patients, with spectacular results. Once again, Granville is installed as Emily's fiance and Dalrymple's heir-apparent. But every encounter with the vexingly outspoken Charlotte challenges his complacency and reawakens his physician's idealism. Charlotte will stop at nothing to keep her settlement house running, up to and including assault on a bothersome policeman.
Arrested and put on trial, Charlotte's only chance to stay out of prison is a diagnosis of severe hysteria, which would cause her to be sent to a mental institution instead. As a leading specialist in the treatment of hysteria, Granville is asked to testify. As he considers what he will say, the responsibility calls into question everything he truly believes – about medicine, hysteria, conformity, women, and his own heart.
The upshot is a witty, winning comedy that not only reveals how the vibrator became one of the first electrical appliances in history to earn a patent – but also, how it sent sparks flying between a cautious man and a liberated woman brought together by the wonders of friction.
Director Tanya Wexler's new film HYSTERIA looks and feels like the classic, sumptuous Victorian period piece we've all come to know and love, but the heart of the film is an irreverent, hilarious and surprisingly modern story.
"We knew that we'd have to find a unique tone," says Wexler, "Because while it might be a 19th Century story, it's a subject that still makes us blush in 2011. The fun was in creating a kind of lush, Merchant Ivory reality on the surface, but with a hilarious, unbridled comedy running underneath it."
Set in the 1880's, just as a flurry of newfangled gadgets and inventions was forging the world as we now know it, the film follows the historic creation of the best-selling domestic appliance that dared not announce its true purpose: the electrical vibrator. What emerges is more than a playful comic romp; HYSTERIA is a feisty love story and a trip into hidden history, an exploration of women's passion and a celebration of the forward-thinking spirit that has always kept human progress buzzing.
With a cast led by Academy Award® nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal (CRAZY HEART) and leading man Hugh Dancy (MY IDIOT BROTHER), the film's Victorian past resonates with questions that still preoccupy us today – about sexual attitudes, men and women, and how to lead a truly satisfying life.
The spark of HYSTERIA began with a little-known quirk of history: in the 1880's, one Joseph Mortimer Granville, a highly-regarded English physician, designed and patented the battery-operated vibrator. Granville promoted his machine, known as "Granville's Hammer," for the relief of muscular aches and pains, but it was soon commandeered into service for what was, at the time, seen by many physicians as the only reliable treatment for the widespread, and notoriously mystifying, women's disorder known as "hysteria." This treatment was "medicinal massage" of the female organs "to the point of paroxysm," which, in the Victorian view, was a perfectly clinical release of the nervous system, certainly not to be confused with sexual pleasure.
When producer Tracey Becker (whose films include Marc Forster's Academy Award®- winning FINDING NEVERLAND) first heard the story of Granville from writer Howard Gensler, she was initially amused, but then she was inspired. The notion of an upright and proper Victorian doctor inventing what would become the world's most popular sex toy sounded like a terrific jumping off-point for a modern movie.
"But it couldn't be another dusty biopic," Becker laughs. "It had to be a sparkling romantic comedy and a story that's about much more than the invention of the vibrator, that's about the spirit of change."
Becker brought the idea to director Tanya Wexler, and the two of them, in turn, brought it to the writing team of Stephen Dyer and Jonah Lisa Dyer, who had collaborated with Wexler on earlier films. The Dyers immersed themselves in research, discovering a time period on the very cusp between dust-worn traditions and the shock of the new – a time when doctors were moving away from a belief in vapors and leeches to an understanding of germ theory and psychology; when a candle and gas-lit world was turning into an electrified spectacle of mechanical devices; and when bold women began fighting for the right to make their own choices.
In the midst of all this, they learned about the strange chapter in 19th Century medicine when nearly a quarter of London's female population was diagnosed with "hysteria," a term applied to a vast array of women's disorders, including such apparent feminine mysteries as unhappiness, restlessness, disobedience, impertinence, either too little or too much interest in sex, and even the desire for voting rights. (While the diagnosis was finally dropped in the 1950s, even today we still say "don't get hysterical!" as a warning to women on the verge.)
Hysterical symptoms of one sort or another had a long and outrageous treatment history since the time of ancient Greek physicians. Such creative therapies as "pelvic massage," "digital manipulation," horseback riding and hydro-baths for the nether regions were applied. But in Victorian times, with doctors believing they had an epidemic of female madness on their hands, the practice of stimulating paroxysms became widespread in England, couched in the staunch philosophy that such treatments were in no way erotic in nature – on the contrary, they were purely neurological therapy. The physical reaction that resulted could not possibly be related to what should only happen between husband and wife, but rather, a medical release allowing toxicity and strain to drain from the nervous system.
Indeed, the search for new ways to stimulate women led to early progenitors of the vibrator, and when Mortimer Granville invented his "Hammer" he was well aware that it might be used to treat women for hysteria. As the Dyers started writing, they looked into the real Granville's rather conventional story and decided to fictionalize his life and relationships, imagining romantic entanglements with his boss's two opposite daughters, a disastrous form of carpal tunnel syndrome, and his biggest inner conflict: whether to settle for conformity and success, or dare to follow his convictions and his heart.
"Mortimer's journey is really about a man who believes in modern science, who wants to change medicine," explains Stephen, "But then he loses all that when he starts treating women for hysteria, until he meets the amazing Charlotte Dalrymple, Maggie Gyllenhaal's character. She forces him to confront what he can and can't live within his own actions."
For Mortimer, the risks and the rewards of flying in the face of Victorian conventions are brought home in his choice between the two Dalrymple sisters, whose diametrically opposed takes on the Victorian feminine mystique bring life and verve to the story.
"Emily is of course the Victorian Ideal in the flesh – dutiful, well-behaved and exquisitely turned out," notes Stephen. "Charlotte, on the other hand, is a pure firebrand fighting for women's rights and using her father's money to lift women out of poverty. It's a stark choice for Mortimer."
Charlotte soon becomes the prickly thorn in Mortimer's side – with deliciously flirtatious results. "I loved creating Charlotte, because she's such a modern character," says Jonah Lisa. "She truly believes in things and reminds Mortimer that he used to believe in things, too. She gets under his skin, and all their bickering and banter just fuels the flame. It's an exasperating, funny relationship, but it's also a true love story, because in the end, Mortimer finds he is actually willing to sacrifice his safe, perfect life for Charlotte."
"Tanya, Tracey, Jonah Lisa and I always envisioned a movie that would look like HOWARD'S END in its attention to details but play more like FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL in tone," explains Stephen. "And that's exactly what Tanya went on to achieve."
It seems only fitting that HYSTERIA was brought to fruition by women. Producer Tracey Becker and Director Tanya Wexler were joined by two other accomplished female filmmakers: British producer Sarah Curtis and American producer Judy Cairo, who each brought her own expertise and passion to the project.
Wexler had directed several acclaimed short films while studying at Columbia University, and made her debut with a pair of low-budget indie features (FINDING NORTH, BALL IN THE HOUSE); then she took a long break from filmmaking to start a family. In fact, Wexler met Tracey Becker when she appeared one day in the West Village toy store Becker ran with her husband.
"It was a very unconventional meeting," recalls Becker. "We just started talking without either of us knowing we were both filmmakers, only to discover that connection later." But as the two became friends, Becker began to see that Wexler was the perfect match for HYSTERIA. "I came to see Tanya as a force of nature. She is extremely intelligent, but also full of creativity and amazing intuitiveness. When I saw her first films, I realized that not only is she a genuine person but she is also a natural storyteller."
When Becker mentioned an idea for a movie about the invention of the vibrator, "Tanya lit up light a firecracker," Becker recalls. "She began doing so much research that she could probably now write her own book on Victorian sexual mores."
Wexler saw HYSTERIA as a hybrid of her favorite film genres. "I'm a huge fan of British costume dramas, but I also love sophisticated modern comedies," she explains. "So when I first heard about this story, I thought, I have to make this movie. It would be so fun to contrast this upper-class, buttoned-down Victorian world with this very sexual treatment for women that they insisted wasn't sexual at all."
She quickly developed her own vision of the film and then introduced Becker to Stephen and Jonah Lisa Dyer. "I knew that the film had to play off the conventions of classic films but turn them on their ear. We needed the wit of romantic comedies of the 30s and 40s, very Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, with all that great back-and-forth banter and sexual chemistry.... We needed the gorgeous design of elegant Merchant-Ivory style costume dramas, and the pace of a modern comedy," she explains.
Wexler always felt Charlotte Dalrymple was the emotional heart of the story. "She's such an awake and alive character," she says. "She has a comic side to her, but I love that she is inspired by real women activists of the 1900s – those bold suffragettes and adventurers who fought for women's rights, and who followed their convictions, sometimes to the detriment of their personal lives."
Once Wexler, Becker, and the Dyers had a finished screenplay, they took a chance on sending it to one of England's most accomplished independent film producers, with credits that include MRS. BROWN, MANSFIELD PARK and THE GOVERNESS: Sarah Curtis.
"I was amazed at how well the writers had captured the English idiom," Curtis muses. "To be honest, I approached it quite cautiously because it seemed unlikely they could carry it off, but I found the accuracy extraordinary. The subject matter was handled so cleverly and deftly, and it brought in so many interesting themes. It might have been a one-joke story, but it was the opposite."
Curtis set about assembling "a strong cast of versatile actors who had impeccable comedic instincts," working closely with casting director Gaby Kester (FLASHBACKS OF A FOOL, CHEERFUL WEATHER FOR THE WEDDING) to bring aboard Jonathan Pryce and Rupert Everett, who came on board early and stayed with the film through the ups and downs of raising the finance. Curtis explained "Given the economy and the state of film finance we knew we were going to need partners who believed as deeply in the project as we did. We were very lucky to have the early support and enthusiasm of our French co-producer Anouk Nora (By Alternative Pictures), Arte France/WDR and our Luxembourg partners Jimmy de Brabant and Bob Bellion from Delux Productions. All played a significant part in pulling together the finance for the film."
Then, at a crucial stage in this process, Judy Cairo, fresh off producing the Oscar® winning CRAZY HEART, fell head over heels for the script and completed the team.
"I get maybe 100 scripts a week, and this one went straight to my spam folder, but when I saw it, something made me want to open the e-mail. From the first page I knew instantly I had to be involved," says Cairo. "It's a brilliant story that gets you laughing on page one and you're still laughing 100 pages later, but at the same time, it also moves you, sweeps you up in romance and reveals things to you. I felt that it would really speak to contemporary audiences."
She continues: "There was one line that particularly touched me: when Charlotte says about her work with impoverished women: 'I get more from them than I give.' The vibrator might be the hook of the film, but to me, this is the theme. It's a story that makes you giggle, but it's about more than the funny side of desire; it's also about the desire in all of us to lead a useful life."
Cairo hopes that the film will get people talking in addition to laughing – maybe about things they don't usually talk about. "It's still almost a revolutionary thing to talk openly about women having sex," she observes. "Hopefully, this film will make a dent in that."
Cairo and her Informant Media team found they were able to quickly attract major support to complete the financing and get the production off the ground. "High quality scripts like this one are always hard to come by and people fell in love with it," she summarizes. "It drew an incredibly dedicated cast and crew."
The filmmakers had to create an unseen world for HYSTERIA – that hidden corner of Victorian London where respectable doctors engaged in intimate massage of their female patients.
From the beginning, Tanya Wexler knew she wanted to capture two sides of Victorian life: the stately, prim-and-proper decorum for which it is best known; but also the exhilarating promise of change in the air. After all, this was the period in which previously unimaginable inventions and ideas were overturning tradition at breakneck speed. In addition to the vibrator, inventions of the period included such world-changers as the home sewing machine, public flushing toilets, the pasteurization of food, the underground railway, the typewriter, the telephone, the phonograph, and the gas- powered motorcar, all illuminated by the new electric light bulb.
To capture the volatile Victorian contrasts of Old World versus New, of wealth versus working classes, and of social graces versus social revolutions in the film's look and design, Wexler turned to a British artistic crew that includes Director of Photography Sean Bobbit (Steve McQueen's SHAME, television's SENSE AND SENSIBILITY), Production Designer Sophie Becher (ALFIE, TO KILL A KING), Editor Jon Gregory (FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, IN BRUGES) and Costume Designer Nic Ede (NANNY McPHEE, FLYBOYS).
"The work of Sean, Sophie and Nic was just exquisite at every level," says Judy Cairo. "And it just got more exciting when all that amazing work was combined that with a broader American sensibility – I think it made for a terrific blending of cultures."
Adds Sarah Curtis: "Much like the cast, we dreamed up our ideal production crew – people who would have an affinity for the material, who understood the times, yet could have fun with it – and we were very lucky to get such an experienced and creative group."
The search for authentic English locations was one of the most daunting challenges. "It's become more and more difficult to do Victorian films in London because there are fewer and fewer places left where you can create a 19th Century bubble," Curtis explains.
They found much of what they were looking for in and around Luton Hoo, an estate near Bedfordshire that has been in existence since the Middle Ages, and encompasses a lavish manor house but also numerous outbuildings. "It's beautiful, versatile and has just the right period of buildings for the East End settlement area in the film," says Curtis. "We were able to find a location that was red brick with cobblestone streets under foot and it really suited us. Ironically, the more aristocratic London is easier to find because some of it has been preserved, while the poorer areas are mostly gone."
The film's settlement house, though fictional, was modeled after the real East London communal halls that emerged in the 1880s, usually started by a wealthy donor and intended to provide food, shelter and even education to uplift the new and growing class of urban poor.
After shooting in London for three weeks, the production traveled to Luxembourg where the film's interiors were built. "Like England, Luxembourg has fantastic crews who really know how to create period settings," Curtis notes.
The details of the film were painstaking, from the length of frockcoats to the height of hair towers. The rooms were filled with the proper medical antiques and the cast were fitted into their corsets and bustles, waistcoats and top hats. All was accurate and correct and yet, Wexler let a sparkling spirit of playfulness reign on the set.
"The way she pulled the whole production together was an amazing feat," says Rupert Everett. "She really let the actors do their jobs, embraced our work, and made it quite fun."
Surprise will certainly be part of the reaction to HYSTERIA, as those involved in the production quickly came to realize whenever an outsider asked about the movie. "It was one of the biggest challenges of the film: figuring out what to say when people wondered 'what the movie's about?'" laughs Hugh Dancy.
Producer Sarah Curtis sums it up: "When you tell people the basic concept, it usually results in wild laughter – but then, that's followed by a lot of curiosity about where it will go as a story, and how it relates to men and women today. That's what interested all of us."
To play Mortimer Granville, the filmmakers of HYSTERIA went in search of the quintessential British leading man – someone who could pull off a smart, sophisticated 19th Century doctor who matches wits with a vexingly attractive woman who scoffs at his work; they needed an actor who could keep a stiff upper lip even while inventing the vibrator.
They found all that and more in rising British star Hugh Dancy. Dancy currently stars on Broadway in Venus in Fur and recently starred in the critically acclaimed film MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE. He has also garnered acclaim for his performances as the autistic title character in ADAM and the 'Earl of Essex in the Emmy® nominated television series, ELIZABETH I.
Says Judy Cairo: "Hugh, like Mortimer, is very intelligent and a very good soul, but he's also got a mischievous side and can be quite funny. I think he is one of today's most underutilized, brilliant young actors and he made the perfect sparring partner for Maggie with that 1940s kind of spark. I couldn't imagine finding a better Mortimer."
Dancy recalls being surprised almost immediately upon cracking open the screenplay. "I loved the mix of tones: there are farcical scenes, there's a real romance running through it, and there are some wonderful and serious ideas at work. At the same time, there's always something quite lively, contemporary and fun about it."
Perhaps most fun for Dancy was moving back and forth between the two divergent Dalrymple sisters. "He's quite in over his head," he laughs. "On the one hand, Emily is everything he's signed up for – she's pretty, demure, does everything her father asks, even if she plays the piano badly and is a phrenologist. Charlotte, on the other hand, horrifies him straight away. She's a threat to everything he thinks he wants, and a constant annoyance, but of course, he can't get her off his mind."
To play HYSTERIA's defiantly non-hysterical heroine, Charlotte, the filmmakers chose an actress who has the verve and intelligence to match the very feisty character: Maggie Gyllenhaal, long a favorite of indie filmgoers and a recent Academy Award® nominee for her CRAZY HEART star turn.
"For Charlotte, we thought: who do women love to see on the screen? Maggie was at the top of that list," notes Wexler. "Luckily, Judy Cairo had just worked with her and was able to get the script to her, and she loved it. Once she took the role, it was as if it had been written just for her."
The script turned Gyllenhaal's head on first read. "It was air-tight and really smart," she says. "It's a romantic comedy full of love and lightness, but it's also about a lot of important things like women's sexuality and doing good for others. Most romantic comedies don't have these other qualities, which is what drew me so strongly. I also love that the fire of the movie comes from the woman. Charlotte is such a great character, a true grown-up who is helping women to see all the power they have, and who believes women deserve to lead lives of pleasure and significance."
If Charlotte inspired her, the sexual undercurrent of hysteria made her blush – but Gyllenhaal says that's part of the point. "I get a little flushed and funny every time I talk about the movie," she confesses. "It just goes to show that we still don't really know how to speak openly about women's sexuality. I think this movie will get people talking a bit more, though, because it takes such a fun and humorous approach."
Charlotte's wildness and opinions might be an inspiration to some, but they are the bane of her father's existence -- and a strain on his burgeoning business as one of London's leading doctors for hysterical women. Playing the conservative, conventional man who is nevertheless a leading massager of women's private parts is one of England's most prolific stars of stage and screen: two time Tony® Award winner Jonathan Pryce, whose film roles range from Christopher Hampton's CARRINGTON to the blockbuster PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN series.
"Jonathan is a genius performer," says Wexler. "What I loved about him for this role is that he has impeccable comic timing but he has also has authenticity and truth at his core."
Pryce was initially skeptical about the screenplay, but when he read it, his mind was changed. "Once I got past the shock of the idea, I found it quite a well-written story that's really about the sexual politics of men and women – a subject that couldn't be any more universal, really," he laughs.
Still, while his character might come off as straight-laced and straight-faced, Pryce admits that he had quite a bit of fun in the role. "We didn't play it for comedy, we played it straight, because the situations themselves are laugh-out-loud funny," Pryce explains. "A lot of wonderful actresses come in for the doctor's treatment, and the fun for me was in seeing how they all reacted differently."
Dr. Dalrymple's favorite daughter, Emily, the pinnacle of demure mildness, is the antithesis of the spirited, uncontrollable Charlotte. Taking on the role is Felicity Jones, the British actress whose film LIKE CRAZY was the surprise hit of the Sundance Film Festival this year. Also known for CHALET GIRL and such period dramas as NORTHANGER ABBEY and CHERI, Jones is one of the young rising stars of her generation. Jones says HYSTERIA isn't quite like those other films. "The beauty of this script is that it comes on like a traditional costume drama but then you realize something much more anarchic is lurking underneath," comments Jones.
Still, at heart, Emily is a traditional Victorian woman who does her duty agreeing to marry her father's choice of husband, rather then thinking for herself. To prepare for the role, Jones read up on 19th Century mores and especially on Emily's hobby of phrenology – the once popular pseudoscience that involved "reading" a person's personality from the shape of their skull. But nothing could prepare Jones for Emily's own lavish hairstyle, worn to impress on the occasion of a party to celebrate her engagement to Mortimer. "We called it 'The Incredible Tower,'" laughs Jones. "It's a remarkable and very unusual hairstyle that took us hours to perfect."
Also taking a key role in HYSTERIA is another actor renowned for a wide variety of wry, sophisticated period roles: Rupert Everett. Edmund (Everett) is Mortimer's aristocratic best friend whose plans to build an electric feather duster are taken in a most unexpected direction.
Like others, Everett couldn't resist the concept behind HYSTERIA. "Anyone you tell about this film cracks a smile almost immediately. It has the flavor of an Ealing Comedy of the 30's or 40s," he notes, referring to the quintessentially British style of post-war comedies known for blending an anarchic sense of fun with scathing satire.
Rounding out the main cast of characters are two women from London's working class: Fanny, the settlement house resident and Charlotte's confidante, played by Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty and HBO's Extras); and the former prostitute, 'Molly the Lolly', played by Olivier Award winning British comedy star Sheridan Smith, who makes her feature film debut on the heels of her recent highly successful stage run in "Legally Blonde, The Musical."
Jensen's character Fanny helps Charlotte bring home her point that, whereas affluent women are getting massages for mysterious maladies, working women are in dire need of real medical care. "What I think is so clever about the movie," says Jensen, "Is that it's also about the women who literally sacrificed their lives so that we could have equal citizenship with men," she says. "And I loved that so many women were in senior positions on this movie. It's wonderful to have a movie about women's sexuality and women's rights be helmed by women."
As for Smith, she says she had a blast in her debut role as the "guinea pig" on whom the first, fledgling vibrator was cautiously tested. "It couldn't have been more fun," she comments. "It's really my first film, so I was awed to be working with this caliber of actors. We all got into our costumes and our wigs, and suddenly we were completely different people!"
While Smith got a kick out of her character, she says the character who kept her inspired was Charlotte. "I think we all fell in love with her," she concludes. "The way Maggie plays her, she's such a fighter and she reminds you what it's like to be a true-to-yourself woman in any age."
The filmmakers were thrilled with the ensemble they were able to cast. "Early on, we wrote a wish list of the names we wanted, and somehow they are all in the movie," muses Tanya Wexler. "In large part it was the way the story was told in the script – when people would first hear the concept of HYSTERIA, they expected very broad comedy, but instead what they got was something funny, poignant, and with real heart. That surprised and pleased the actors and, I think, ultimately attracted them to the project."
Mortimer Granville...Hugh Dancy
Charlotte Dalrymple...Maggie Gyllenhaal
Dr. Robert Dalrymple...Jonathan Pryce
Emily Dalrymple...Felicity Jones
Edmund St. John-Smythe...Rupert Everett
Lady St. John-Smythe...Gemma Jones
Lord St. John-Smythe...Malcolm Rennie
Mrs. Castellari...Kim Criswell
Mrs. Parsons...Georgie Glen
Mrs. Pearce...Elisabet Johannesdottir
Nurse Smalley...Linda Woodhall
Lady Wheaton...Kim Selby
Mr. Huddleston...John Overstall
Mrs. Huddleston...Ann Comfort
PC Fugate...Jonathan Rhodes
Jack the Coal Man...Jules Werner
Mrs. Copeland...Maggie McCarthy
Prison Guard...Perry Blanks
Mr. Squyers...Tobias Menzies
Mrs. Bellamy...Anna Chancellor
Tough Guy...David Schaal
Dr. Richardson...Nicholas Woodeson
Footman 1...Jack Kelly
Dispensary Old Woman Patient...Joan Linder
Worker at Edmunds...Dominic Borrelli
Major Domo...Jimmy De Brabant
Lady Cherwell...Kate Linder
Lady Perrigott...Corinna Marlowe
Queen Victoria...Sylvia Strange
HUGH DANCY (Mortimer Granville) most recently appeared in OUR IDIOT BROTHER directed by Jesse Peretz and MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE, with both films receiving critical acclaim at 2011 Sundance Film Festival. In addition to his leading man role in HYSTERIA, in 2012 Dancy will voice the character of 'Marshall Mallow' in the animated DOROTHY OF OZ.
Dancy's other film credits include: ADAM, CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC, THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB, EVENING, BEYOND THE GATES, KING ARTHUR, ELLA ENCHANTED, THE SLEEPING DICTIONARY, BLACK HAWK DOWN and YOUNG BLADES.
On television, Dancy had a recurring role in The Big C starring Laura Linney, and has been seen in Tom Hooper's critically acclaimed series Elizabeth I opposite Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons. Dancy received an Emmy® nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for his role as 'Earl of Essex', and the series received the 2007 Golden Globe® Award for Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television and the Emmy® Award for Best Miniseries.
Dancy's other television credits include: Daniel Deronda, David Copperfield, Relic Hunter and Madame Bovary.
On stage, Dancy starred on Broadway in David Grindley's Journey's End opposite Boyd Gaines, Jefferson Mays and Stark Sands. A Journey's End won the 2007 Tony® Award for Best Revival of a Play. In 2010, Dancy returned to the stage in the critically acclaimed The Pride with Ben Whishaw and Andrea Riseborough. He currently stars on Broadway in Venus in Fur, opposite Nina Arianda.
Dancy graduated with an English Literature degree from St. Peter's College, Oxford.
MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL (Charlotte Dalrymple) is one of the great young actresses of today. Most recently, she gained critical acclaim and an Oscar® nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of 'Jean Craddock' in CRAZY HEART alongside Jeff Bridges, further exemplifying her talent and versatility as an actress. After receiving rave reviews out of the 2002 Sundance competition for her starring role opposite James Spader in Lions Gate's SECRETARY, she went on to receive a Golden Globe® nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical, an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Actress, a Chicago Film Critics' Award for Most Promising Performer, A Boston Film Critics' Award for Best Actress, a National Board of Review Award for Breakthrough Performance and an IFP/ Gotham Breakthrough Performance Award.
Years later, back at Sundance in 2007, Maggie starred in SHERRYBABY; she played a female convict struggling to overcome her drug addiction and regain custody of her daughter. The film was well-received by critics and garnered her second Golden Globe® nomination, this time for Best Actress in a Motion Picture-Drama. Gyllenhaal was also nominated for a 2006 Independent Spirit Award for her role in Don Roos' HAPPY ENDINGS, opposite Lisa Kudrow and Tom Arnold.
She was Rachel Dawes in the Warner Bros. box office hit DARK KNIGHT directed by Chris Nolan. She was also seen in Sam Mendes's AWAY WE GO.
Recently, Maggie starred in NANNY McPHEE AND THE BIG BANG with Emma Thompson. Next up, she will be starring in the drama WON'T BACK DOWN alongside Viola Davis and directed by Daniel Barnz.
In August 2006, Maggie was seen in TRUST THE MAN with Julianne Moore, Billy Crudup and David Duchovny and in Oliver Stone's WORLD TRADE CENTER with Maria Bello and Nicholas Cage. She also starred in Marc Forster's STRANGER THAN FICTION with Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah and Emma Thompson. In the past few years, she appeared in John Sayles' CASA DE LOS BABYS with Daryl Hannah and Lily Taylor and Mike Newell's much-anticipated MONA LISA SMILE in which Maggie co-starred with Julia Roberts, Julia Stiles and Kirsten Dunst. She was also seen in CRIMINAL with Diego Luna and John C. Reilly as well as Spike Jonze's ADAPTATION.
Also accomplished on stage, Gyllenhaal starred as "Alice" in Patrick Mauber's award- winning Closer at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles for director Robert Egan, and previously at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. She has also appeared in Anthony and Cleopatra at the Vanborough Theatre in London. In 2004, Maggie starred in Tony Kushner's play Homebody/Kabul, which ran in both Los Angeles and at B.A.M. Next, Maggie will be seen alongside Peter Sarsgaard and Mamie Gummer in Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov.
Recently Maggie appeared in the Anton Chekhov play Three Sisters alongside Peter Sarsgaard, Jessica Hecht and Josh Hamilton.
Maggie made her feature film debut in 1992, alongside Jeremy Irons and Ethan Hawke in WATERLAND. This was followed by a memorable performance as 'Raven', the Satan- worshipping make-up artist in John Waters' quirky Hollywood satire, CECIL B. DEMENTED, which led her to a co-starring role in DONNIE DARKO, a fantasy-thriller about disturbed adolescence.
Gyllenhaal is a 1999 graduate of Columbia University where she studied Literature.
JONATHAN PRYCE (Dr. Dalrymple) is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning actor, known for his outstanding performances on both stage and screen. From his seminal theatre performances in Hamlet and Miss Saigon to film roles in CARRINGTON and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, Pryce has entertained audiences on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond.
In addition to his role as Victorian Doctor Dalrymple in HYSTERIA, in 2012 Pryce will be seen as the President of the United States in G.I. JOE: RETALIATION and in the upcoming thriller DRECK.
Pryce studied at RADA (the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) and upon graduating, joined the Liverpool Everyman Theatre Company for an 18-month season, followed by a season at the Nottingham Playhouse under the direction of Richard Eyre. He then returned to the Everyman for a season as Artistic Director.
An illustrious career of theatre credits has followed. In 1975, Pryce starred in Trevor Griffiths' Comedians, directed by Richard Eyre at The Old Vic, and then took that role to New York, directed by Mike Nichols, where he won his first Tony® Award. A season with the Royal Shakespeare Company came next, with lead roles in The Taming of the Shrew, Antony and Cleopatra and Measure for Measure, and in 1980, Pryce won an Olivier Award for his highly acclaimed Hamlet, directed by Richard Eyre, at the Royal Court. Subsequent theatre credits include Tally's Folly at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith; playing 'The Fool' in Accidental Death of an Anarchist on Broadway; The Doctor and the Devils, directed by Freddie Francis; The Seagull, opposite Vanessa Redgrave; Macbeth at the RSC; and Uncle Vanya, directed by Michael Blakemore.
In 1989, Pryce created the role of 'The Engineer' in the musical Miss Saigon, for which he was awarded the Tony®, Drama Desk, Olivier and Outer Circle Critics awards for Best Actor in a Musical, and other musical starring roles have since followed in Oliver! and My Fair Lady in London and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels on Broadway.
Pryce's recent theatre credits include The Goat or Who Is Sylvia? at the Almeida Theatre and Apollo Theatre, which garnered him a nomination for Best Actor at the Olivier Awards; Glengarry Glen Ross, directed by James MacDonald; Dimetos at The Donmar Warehouse; and a landmark performance as Davies in The Caretaker, which played initially at the Liverpool Playhouse before transferring to the West End in 2010.
Pryce's achievements on stage have been mirrored by his success on screen. His early film credits include Stuart Rosenburg's VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED, Brian Gibson's BREAKING GLASS, for which he won Best Newcomer at the Evening Standard Awards, Jack Clayton's SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, and Terry Gilliam's award-winning BRAZIL, which was to be followed later by two other collaborations with Gilliam: THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN and THE BROTHERS GRIMM.
Other film credits include THE PLOUGHMAN'S LUNCH, MAN ON FIRE, CONSUMING PASSIONS, JUMPIN' JACK FLASH, THE AGE OF INNOCENCE and GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, and in 1995 Pryce starred in Christopher Hampton's CARRINGTON, which brought him Best Actor awards at the Cannes Film Festival and the Evening Standard Awards and a BAFTA Award nomination. A starring role alongside Madonna in EVITA followed, as well as a memorable turn as a James Bond villain in TOMORROW NEVER DIES, and roles in RONIN and STIGMATA.
Pryce's recent film work includes: BEDTIME STORIES, directed by Adam Shankman; G.I.JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA, directed by Stephen Sommers; Echelon Conspiracy starring Shane West and Edward Burns; MY ZINC BED (TV movie), directed by Anthony Page; LEATHERHEADS, directed George Clooney; DE-LOVELY, directed by Irwin Walker; WHAT A GIRL WANTS, directed by Irwin Winkler; and THE AFFAIR OF THE NECKLACE, directed by Charles Shyer. Pryce is also known to millions for his role as Governor Weatherby Swann in the first three PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN films: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL, DEAD MAN'S CHEST and AT WORLD'S END.
Pryce's television work includes: Barbaraians at the Gate (for which he received Emmy® and Golden Globe® nominations), the lead roles of Wallace in the BBC TV film The Man from the Pru and Gerd Heidemann in the four-part telefilm Selling Hitler; starring in Great Moments in Aviation for BBC Films, directed by Beeban Kidron; playing Sherlock Holmes in Baker Street Irregulars, directed by Julian Kemp for RDF Media; and the lead role in Thicker Than Water for BBC TV. Most recently, Pryce played Mr Buxton in Cranford: Return to Cranford, for which he received an Emmy® Nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Mini-series or Drama.
In recognition of his many achievements in film, television and theatre Pryce was awarded an honorary doctorate from Liverpool University in 2006, and in 2009 he was awarded the C.B.E in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
FELICITY JONES (Emily Dalrymple) is one of the brightest actresses of her generation. She has recently been seen in Julie Taymor's film adaptation of William Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST, in BAFTA-nominated director Niall MacCormick's ALBATROSS and in the romantic drama LIKE CRAZY. For her performance as 'Anna' in LIKE CRAZY, Jones was awarded for Best Breakthrough Performer by the National Board of Review and the Gotham Awards, among others. Jones has also starred in the romantic comedy THE CHALET GIRL, and in SOULBOY, a coming-of-age drama set in the 1970s Northern Soul underground musical scene, which premiered to great acclaim at the Edinburgh Film Festival. In addition to her role as Emily in HYSTERIA, she will next be seen in Davis Hare's PAGE EIGHT (TV movie) with Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz and Bill Nighy; and in the comedy CHEERFUL WEATHER FOR THE WEDDING.
Other recent films include CEMETARY JUNCTION, a comedy written and directed by the award-winning partnership of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant; and the short movie THE HANGUP, based on Anthony Minghella's 1980 radio play. Jones starred as 'Edmée' in CHERI, directed by Stephen Frears, co-starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Kathy Bates and Rupert Friend. Her extensive film credits also include the role of 'Lady Cordelia Flyte' in the remake of BRIDESHEAD REVISITED, directed by Julian Jarrold, opposite Matthew Goode, Ben Whishaw and Hayley Atwell; and FLASHBACKS OF A FOOL with Daniel Craig, Harry Eden, rapper Eve, Keeley Hawes and Olivia Williams.
On television, she played the sister of Anne Frank, Margot, in the critically acclaimed BBC adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank and starred in Channel Four's chilling drama, Cape Wrath. She also starred in Jane Austen's Northhanger Abbey, directed by Jon Jones, playing the character 'Catherine Morland'. She also played the role of 'Robina Redman' in the hit BBC sci-fi series Doctor Who. Other television credits include Servants, Weirdsister College, and the children's drama The Worst Witch.
As well as film and television, Jones made her mark in radio by narrating the voice of 'Emma Grundy' in the popular BBC Radio 4's program, The Archers. Her other radio credits include Watership Down, What a Drag and Mansfield Park, which were all for BBC Radio 4.
Jones has also appeared in theatre, which includes That Face at the Royal Court. She played the role of 'Mia', directed by Jeremy Herrin. Jones teamed up with Michael Grandage to perform the role of 'Laurel' in Enid Bagnold's The Chalk Garden. Jones starred opposite Margaret Tyzack and Penelope Wilton at the Donmar Warehouse. It was this role that garnered Jones amazing reviews for her performance and also earned her a nomination at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for The Milton Shulman for Outstanding Newcomer.
RUPERT EVERETT plays the role of aristocratic, Victorian technology buff 'Edmund St. John-Smythe' in HYSTERIA.
A true British acting talent, Rupert Everett has attained international stardom due to a body of work, which includes a memorable array of both comedic and dramatic film roles. Everett has performed on screen in a variety of outstanding films which include: Marek Kanievska's ANOTHER COUNTRY; Richard Eyre's STAGE BEAUTY; John Madden's SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE; Nicholas Hytner's THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE; Matthew Vaughn's STARDUST; David Kellogg's INSPECTOR GADGET; Michael Hoffman's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM; Oliver Parker's AN IDEAL HUSBAND and THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST.
Throughout his career Rupert Everett has won critical acclaim and gained both Golden Globe® and BAFTA nominations, most famously, for his performance as Julia Roberts' confidant in MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING. Rupert also starred in WILD TARGET, the ST TRINIAN'S films and lent his voice as Prince Charming in the box office animated hits SHREK 2 and SHREK 3. For 2012, he will also feature in the upcoming 3- D animated motion picture JUSTIN AND THE KNIGHTS OF VALOR, with Antonio Banderas and Saoirse Ronan.
Rupert Everett has simultaneously built up an impressive theatre career which has seen him work with many renowned directors and actors, including a critically acclaimed performance as 'Henry Higgins' in the West End production of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. In addition to his film and theatre work, Everett has turned his talented hand to documentaries with the series, The Scandalous Adventures of Lord Byron, and The Victorian Sex Explorer, for Channel Four. He also explored his ancestors in the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are. Most recently he starred as 'Judge Hope' in Charlie Brooker's controversial, dark, satirical drama series Black Mirror.
Everett is an accomplished writer having published two novels and his first autobiography Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins. Currently he is in pre-production writing, producing and directing a movie about the last years of Oscar Wilde's life in Europe, a project in which he will play the starring role. He is also putting the finishing touches to his new, as of yet, untitled autobiography.
ASHLEY JENSEN (Fanny), blessed with a combination of wit, charm, and brilliant comedic timing, has left her mark on both audience and industry members alike. Nominated for an Emmy® (Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie) for her work in the "Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale," honored with the best television comedy actress and newcomer awards at the 2005 "Fun Fearless Top Woman on TV" award, Ashley's commitment to comedic excellence has proven to be unwavering.
Jensen reprised her role as film extra Maggie Jacobs for HBO's second season of Extras and the special Christmas episode opposite Ricky Gervais. With A-list guest stars such as Kate Winslet, Ben Stiller and Samuel L. Jackson playing parodied versions of themselves on the show, Extras continually expanded on its comedic direction and range each week. Extras originally aired on BBC 2 in the United Kingdom. In 2006 Jensen won the Rose d'Or ward for best Sitcom Actress at the 2006 Monte Carlo Film Festival. Jensen was also nominated for a BAFTA for Best Comedic Performance by an Actress in a Comedy Series. Jensen was named comedienne of the year in 2006 by Glamour Magazine, and was nominated for a WIN Award for her performance on Extras.
Jensen is also known as the loveable Christina McKinney on ABC's hugely popular, award-winning show Ugly Betty. Most recently she could be seen opposite Jenna Elfman on the CBS sitcom, Accidentally on Purpose. Jensen also recently starred in BBC America's drama series Eleventh Hour where she co-starred opposite Patrick Stewart. As protection officer Rachel Young, Jensen was able to exercise her acting range in this politically charged suspense/drama. Some of her other TV credits include Rebus, Clocking Off, City Central, Sweet Medicine, Two Thousand Acres of Sky and Outside the Rules.
On the big screen Jensen has been seen in A COCK AND BULL STORY and TOPSY- TURVY. Jensen also lent her voice to Phlegma the Fierce in Dreamworks HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON and to Nanette in Disney's GNOMEO AND JULIET. In addition to her role in HYSTERIA as Fanny, a settlement house helper, Jensen has recently voiced roles in two animated features: ARTHUR CHRISTMAS and THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS.
Jensen was born in Scotland and currently resides in Los Angeles.
SHERIDAN SMITH (Molly) makes her feature film debut in HYSTERIA. Smith was born in Epworth in Lincolnshire and from a very young age began dancing with The Joyce Mason School of Dancing and then the National Youth Music Theatre, performing lead roles in such productions as Bugsy Malone and Into the Woods. She has starred in numerous television shows, including the popular British series Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crips, The Royle Family and Gavin & Stacey.
Sheridan was awarded an Olivier for her performance as 'Elle Woods' in Legally Blonde the Musical in the West End, and for Flare Path, directed by Trevor Nunn at the Theatre Royal Haymarket; The Evening Standard Theatre Award and Critic's Circle Theatre Award, both for Best Actress.
Smith will next be seen on the big screen in QUARTET, directed by Dustin Hoffman and starring Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon. On television her upcoming projects included The Scapegoat opposite Matthew Rhys for ITV, and Accused written by Jimmy McGovern.
Directed by Tanya Wexler
Produced by Sarah Curtis, Judy Cairo and Tracey Becker
Story and Screenplay by Stephen Dyer and Jonah Lisa Dyer
Original Story by Howard Gensler
Michael A. Simpson
Anouk Nora Jimmy De Brabant Bob Bellion
Director of Photography
Sean Bobbitt B.S.C.
Jon Gregory A.C.E.
Additional Music by Christian Henson
TANYA WEXLER (Director) developed HYSTERIA with Producer Tracey Becker from a fledgling two-page treatment. She knew that she had to make the story of the birth of the vibrator if she never did anything else with her life. She was born and raised in Chicago, and received her BA in Psychology from Yale University. She attended the Columbia University School of the Arts and received her MFA in Film Direction, where she made two short films: THE DANCE (Telluride Intl. Film Festival, Seattle Intl. Film Festival) and COOL SHOES (Huston Intl. Film Fest Award Winner). Her two feature films are: BALL IN THE HOUSE (a.k.a. RELATIVE EVIL), starring Jennifer Tilly, David Straithairn, Jonathan Tucker and Ethan Embry, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival; and FINDING NORTH (Palm Springs Intl Film Festival, NY Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, LA Outfest, SF Gay and Lesbian Film Festival) starring Wendy Makkena and John Benjamin Hickey. Her films have been seen internationally in theatrical release and at film festivals. Her upcoming projects include one she is co- writing called THE NEW ME and PAPER CUTS with Paula Patton (MI4, PRECIOUS). Tanya lives in New York with her partner and four children. As far as we know, she has never been diagnosed with hysteria.
STEPHEN & JONAH LISA DYER (Writers) have scripted HYSTERIA, THE HEIR, and BIG SKY.
Jonah Lisa Dyer is an actor, stand-up comedienne, and screenwriter. She has appeared in numerous films, TV commercials, and Off Broadway and regional theater. For six years, she worked as the writing assistant to William Broyles, one of Hollywood's most successful screenwriters (APOLLO 13, CASTAWAY). In that capacity she worked extensively on the screenplays for Robert Zemeckis' POLAR EXPRESS and Sam Mendes' JARHEAD, as well as the Fox 2000 film, SHADOW DIVERS.
In addition to screenwriting, Stephen Dyer has produced feature films including: the upcoming THE PLAYROOM, starring John Hawkes and MollyParker; LATE BLOOMERS; FINDING NORTH; and BALL IN THE HOUSE.
His work has premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival, among others.
Stephen and Jonah Lisa Dyer are currently writing a novel and screenplay for Temple Hill, producers of the TWILIGHT series.
SARAH CURTIS (Producer) has been an independent feature film producer for 18 years. Her most recent feature is box office hit RUN FAT BOY RUN for Material Entertainment, starring Simon Pegg and Thandie Newton and directed by David Schwimmer. Sarah also produced ON A CLEAR DAY, starring Peter Mullan, Brenda Blethyn and Billy Boyd which opened the Sundance Film Festival and was bought for distribution by Focus Features. ON A CLEAR DAY won two Scottish BAFTAS in 2006, Best Screenplay and Best Film.
Her previous film credits include CHARLOTTE GRAY with Cate Blanchett and Billy Crudup for director Gillian Armstrong; Patricia Rozema's MANSFIELD PARK; THE GOVERNESS (Minnie Driver and Tom Wilkinson) directed by Sandra Goldbacher; MRS. BROWN, directed by John Madden; Christopher Monger's THE ENGLISHMAN WHO WENT UP A HILL BUT CAME DOWN A MOUNTAIN, which starred Hugh Grant, Tara Fitzgerald, Ian McNiece and Colm Meaney; and three projects with director Les Blair, BAD BEHAVIOUR (Stephen Rea and Sinead Cusack), BLISS starring Douglas Hodge and JUMP THE GUN, set in South Africa.
Prior to her career producing and executive producing feature films, Sarah produced three television films; THE YELLOW WALLPAPER with Dorothy Tutin and Stepen Dilliane; NEWSHOUNDS starring Adrian Edmonson and Alison Steadman, and TELL ME THAT YOU LOVE ME with Sean Bean, James Wilby and Judith Scott.
JUDY CAIRO (Producer) produced one of the surprise hits of 2009/2010 with her first feature film, CRAZY HEART. It won two Academy Awards® (Best Actor, Jeff Bridges and Best Original Song "The Weary Kind" written by T Bone Burnett & Ryan Bingham), and two Golden Globes® for the same, as well as the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature and Best Actor. Cairo and her Informant Media partners arranged the financing, and she was the hands-on Producer for the film, which was released by Fox Searchlight on December 16, 2009. Based on the novel by Thomas Cobb, the film starred Jeff Bridges, Colin Farrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Robert Duvall and represented the directorial debut of Scott Cooper, who also wrote the screenplay.
Under the previous shingle of Cairo/Simpson Entertainment, Cairo produced 20 made- for-television films including the acclaimed 4-hour mini-series Elvis, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers for which he won a Golden Globe®; the biopic Gleason, the story of the TV legend; and The Boy King, a drama about Martin Luther King, Jr. as a child, for which Judy worked closely with Coretta Scott King and Christine King Farris, Martin's sister, to accurately portray the childhood influences which shaped Dr. King's life. The film was Cairo's first, and won the George Foster Peabody award. Her other films have garnered Golden Globes®, Critics Choice Awards, the Christopher Award, IPA Satellite Awards, and numerous Emmy® nominations.
In 2007 Cairo founded Informant Media, which develops, finances, and produces independent feature films, with partners Michael A. Simpson and Eric Brenner. She discovered the CRAZY HEART script in May 2007 at the Cannes Film Festival and Informant set about piecing together the financing for the independent film. Cairo shepherded the film from pre-production through distribution, and the ensuing success story is now well known in the indie film world.
Cairo just finished production on THE EXPATRIATE, and action/thriller starring Aaron Eckhart, Liana Liberato, and Olga Kurylenko, which was filmed in Brussels and Montreal. Cairo is currently producing WRITERS, a sharp, witty drama with Oscar® nominee Greg Kinnear as a famous novelist navigating a tumultuous year with his ex- wife, played by Oscar® winner Jennifer Connelly, and his teenage son and collegiate daughter.
TRACEY BECKER (Producer) began her career as an actress and producer in New York City after training at Wright State, The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and with Sandy Dennis at HB Studios. In addition to appearing in over thirty plays, she made frequent guest appearances on TV networks like A&E, Comedy Central and Showtime performing sketch comedy. As a producer, she developed and produced industrial videos and a direct-to-video concert featuring kid's recording artist, Raffi. She also co-wrote and produced a 1-hour comedy/reality hybrid pilot for the Food Network.
Tracey then launched Birnam Wood with partner Nellie Bellflower, a theater and film production company dedicated to developing works by new and established writers like Murray Schisgal, Christopher Durang, Ron McLarty. She produced the highly successful Off-Broadway run of Doris Davis' Summer Share that NBC TVs Jeffery Lyons called "Must-See Theater!" She then partnered with Dustin Hoffman to develop the one-hour TV drama pilot 44 Wall. Birnam Wood optioned Allan Knee's play The Man Who Was Peter Pan which Tracey and Nellie developed with writer David Magee as the screenplay FINDING NEVERLAND. Partnering with Richard Gladstein, Nellie and Tracey produced the film for Miramax, which starred Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. With Marc Forster directing, FINDING NEVERLAND was nominated for seven Academy Awards® including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, winning for Best Score, in addition to winning the National Board of Review's Best Picture honor.
In 2005, Tracey established Beachfront Films and moved her family to Venice, California. There she has worked developing a series of short films for Glamour Magazine, featuring the directing debuts of Jennifer Aniston and Bryce Dallas Howard. She developed the feature film script CHRYSALIS with Academy Award® winning actor/director Alan Arkin, and has been hired as a consultant on many feature film scripts, both in production and in pre-production.
On HYSTERIA, Tracey developed the screenplay with writers Stephen and Jonah Lisa Dyer from an idea by Howard Gensler, and then brought on producing partners Sarah Curtis (MRS. BROWN, CHARLOTTE GREY) in the UK and Judy Cairo (CRAZY HEART) in the United States.
Tracey will next produce THE GALAPAGOS AFFAIR from a script by William Boyd (CHAPLIN) for Informant Media, as well as the psychological thriller URBAN ASYLUM written by Sean Farley, and ANA'S PLAYGROUND – the feature adaptation of Eric D. Howell's award-winning short film, for RKO Pictures.
In her spare time, Tracey and her husband found time to own and operate a small chain of toy stores with a lively web business, in addition to her screenplay consultation service, www.ScriptSwami.com. She is an active volunteer, whether for her son's LAUSD elementary school, or as a member of the Board of Directors of "From the Heart", a non- profit which puts brand new books in the hands of many disadvantaged kids in the most economically challenged areas of Los Angeles.
SEAN BOBBITT (Director of Photography) exploded onto the world's stage when he shot Steve McQueen's HUNGER, which won the Camera D'Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival. He recently reunited with McQueen for 2011's SHAME, starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan. The film won Best Film at the Venice Film Festival and was awarded one of the Top Ten Independent Films of 2011. Bobbitt also shot the Rwandan soccer comedy AFRICA UNITED. He has also worked with such acclaimed directors as Michael Winterbottom and Neil Jordan. Bobbit has most recently shot THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES, co-written and directed by Derek Cianfrance (BLUE VALENTINE), produced by Sidney Kimmel and starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Rose Brynce, Eva Mendes and Ray Liotta.
Bobbitt has also worked extensively in long-form British television, lensing the latest acclaimed adaptation of Sense & Sensibility, in addition to The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickelby, The Canterbury Tales and The Long Firm.
JON GREGORY (Editor) has had a long and impressive career editing features and long-form television. Especially adept at comedy, Jon edited the British classic FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, PUSHING TIN, LIVING OUT LOUD, and Mike Leigh's latest ANOTHER YEAR, in addition to the acclaimed dramas THE ROAD, starring Viggo Mortensen, Robert Duvall and Guy Pierce; the Academy-Award nominated IN BRUGES; and PENELOPE.
Gregory's other films include DONNIE BRASCO, starring Al Pacino, Johnny Depp and Michael Masden; NED KELLY, starring Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Naomi Watts and Joel Edgerton; and Mike Leigh's SECRETS & LIES.
SOPHIE BECHER (Production Designer) is an award winning designer for film, television and commercials. Having started her career as a theatre designer Sophie worked her way up through the ranks of the art department to design her first production, THE BORROWERS, for Working Title Television and the BBC, directed by John Henderson, for which she won an RTS Award for Best Production Design as well as a BAFTA nomination for Best Production Design.
Other credits include: Trevor Nunn's TWELFTH NIGHT; B MONKEY and FLAWLESS for Mike Radford; BEST LAID PLANS, LORNA DOONE and TO KILL A KING for Mike Barker; and Charles Shyer's ALFIE, starring Jude Law. Other recent credits include Michael Radford's forthcoming THE MULE, Gabor Csupo's SECRET OF MOONACRE and David Schwimmer's RUN FAT BOY RUN. Becher has recently finished on SONG FOR MARION, written and directed by Paul Andrew Williams, starring Gemma Arterton and Vanessa Regrave; and is currently working on SUMMER IN FEBRUARY, starring Dominic Cooper and Emily Browning.
NIC EDE (Costume Designer) has designed for many award-winning contemporary and period films, from Richard Linklater's ME AND ORSON WELLES starring Zac Efron and Claire Danes to Tony Bill's World War I action adventure FLYBOYS, for which he was nominated for a Saturn Award. He was also nominated for an Emmy® for the TV Mini-Series DASH AND LILLY starring Sam Shepard and Judy Davis. Other notable productions include NANNY MCPHEE, BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS, WILDE, LOCH NESS and NOT WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER.