Nicole answers some fan questions about ‘Cold Mountain’. Thanks to everyone who submitted questions! Keep them coming!
1. “What was the toughest scene of the film to shoot?” - Katherine
Nic: “Actually, the toughest part of making this movie was the conditions. We were filming in Romania and we needed to shoot summer going through fall and into winter. When we were shooting during the end of summer there was just so much rain we always had to stop and wait for the skies to clear. We were flooded out at one point for a lot of the beginning sequences. I mean it was torrential downpours. And poor Anthony, the director, was beside himself because we had to cut scenes and change things because we just didn’t have sunshine.
Then, when the winter months came it was -40 degrees. They were scared we were going to get frostbite on our fingers and our noses. There was a scene I had to shoot with the scarecrow and in between each take they would bring heaters and scarves and huge things to cover my face because it was so, so cold — and yet I had to pretend that it wasn’t cold, that it was just mild, fall weather.
That’s the hardest thing, because no matter how much you can get lost in the character, when the conditions are that extreme it’s very hard to act. So, I remember that. But I also remember the experience as being one of the most magical experiences because we were up in the mountains and so far away. It’s one of the greatest ways to make a film when you’re existing in a bubble and you feel like you’re in some other time and place.”
2. “What’s it like trying to place yourself in the mindset of someone living in the past like Ada? Do you approach a period character differently than you do a modern one?” -Clarisse
Nic: “I don’t know if I approach it differently, but you learn the customs and you learn the manners. I had to do an accent that was a very refined, period Southern accent, which I actually loved doing because it’s so soft and it has such a beautiful ring to it. But a lot of it came from the book. From the minute I read “Cold Mountain” I just grasped Ada. I loved Ada and I could absorb her so quickly and so easily. I also think that place of yearning for someone is one of the most interesting things to explore — that state of yearning and what that can do to you psychologically. From the minute they have their kiss and then they’re separated. For some reason I could relate to that.
3. “Hi, Nicole! “Cold Mountain” is one of my favorite movies of all time. Ada Monroe is such a strong and emotionally compelling character. What kind of impact has playing Ada had on you? – Katie
Nic: “I think all the characters you play have some sort of effect. With Ada there was something so fragile and feminine about her. I was probably in that state myself, in terms of being quite fragile when I was making the film. I wasn’t physically strong. I’m much more physically strong now that I’m married and happy. I think I wasn’t as happy then and so that played havoc on my emotions, but it also played havoc on my physical state of being. Luckily, I was surrounded by one of the greatest writer/directors, Anthony, who took such great care of me, and also by such wonderful actors. I think Ada and Satine are the two characters (because they’re so deeply romantic) that I just loved playing. I’m so glad I got to play Ada.
4. “What is the greatest thing Anthony Minghella taught you? What was it like being on set with one of the greatest writers/directors of all time?” -Mariana/Alfredo
Nic: “Anthony became one of my closest spiritual friends. I felt sort of a kindred spirit with him. To not have him in the world now is such a loss, not just to me and to his family but to the world of filmmaking and writing. He contributed in an enormous way. His poetry and his outlook on life were so gentle and so special. He was kind and reserved, yet he had this raw ability to write characters that had such deep passion and power within them. That’s what was so unusual – his characters possessed this quiet reserve and yet they had this fire burning within. I think of Anthony often. I hold him very, very close to my heart, and I miss him.”
5. “Was the fact that something like this could happen in real life make “Cold Mountain” a profound experience for you?” – Marc-Andre
Nic: “It was profound. As you say, that could happen now. It does happen now to people. The thing that made it so unusual is that Ada and Inman pledged themselves on a kiss – on a feeling – and then years and years go by. But it’s the thought and the idea of the person that kept them alive during some of their most painful experiences.
That’s why I talk about the state of yearning being such an unusual and powerful state to exist in. I think the idea of someone keeping you alive through war or keeping you alive through incredible physical duress is beautiful. And for it to have been captured this way, in a novel and a movie like this, is what Charles Frazier and Anthony Minghella both do so beautifully.”
6. “How did you fully embrace Ada? By reading the book, meeting with the writer, through Method acting?” – Arden
Nic: “I’m a mix. I read. I do research. I do emotional sort of Method work. Somehow it’s a huge mishmash of things that becomes my own acting process and my own way of navigating through something. But ultimately the desire is to be honest, and for that truth to bleed through into your work and onto the screen. So, I’ll do anything. I like saying that as an actor. I would hope I’m very open and available. That’s what I try to do with my directors. I try to be completely open to what they want to achieve, and then I bring in my own ideas. But I’m malleable. If I were a director I’d probably be different because it would be my vision. But as an actor you’re very much a part of a team. I hold that in such high regard. The act of trying to fulfill the director and writer’s vision and ideas, and yet still flesh them out more for them.”
7. “Why did you choose to do Cold Mountain?” – Maple
Nic: “From the minute I read the book, I just wanted to play Ada. You read many books and there are characters that make you go, ‘I’d love to play that,’ but it’s always so far off in the distance. I’d met Anthony Minghella for ‘The English Patient’ and he didn’t cast me, but then I met him again for ‘Cold Mountain’ and it was obviously the right time.
I remember having dinner with Anthony and we talked, not so much about the film as about life. He offered me the film, but he said, ‘I have to find the triangle. I’ve got to find my three actors, so if you fit into the three then the role is yours.’ That’s when he came up with the combination of Jude, myself and Renée. I’m so glad that the three of us got to make this film together and that we get to share it and it belongs to us. I still can’t watch it because of the loss of Anthony but maybe one day…”