Caroline Goodall spoke with Solzy at the Movies over the phone on Wednesday about the upcoming film, The Bay of Silence. Vertical Entertainment will release the film on August 14 in virtual cinemas and Digital/VOD.
How’s it going?
Caroline Goodall: Great. And you know what? I’m actually looking at your front page of your website and there is Robin—and there we go, yeah. He died yesterday, didn’t he? Thank you for that tribute.
No problem. When I rewatched Hook the other day, I didn’t even remember that yesterday was the anniversary.
Caroline Goodall: Oh, really?
It was just largely coincidence.
Caroline Goodall: Yeah. Well, something has told me to do it. I always get a little sad around this time. He gave us so much, didn’t he? I just feel very grateful that I was able to work with him and call him a friend. Thank you so very much for calling me and wanting to talk about The Bay of Silence. I’m really grateful.
The Bay of Silence opens in virtual cinemas and Digital VOD on August 14. What was it about the novel that drew you to adapt the screenplay?
Caroline Goodall: The book is beautifully written and it stayed with me for a long time. I actually read The Bay of Silence itself. I was taking time off between Hook and Cliffhanger, which was shot in Italy. The locations in the movie and the book are an important part of my life. I was born and raised in London and I had my childhood holidays with family in Italy and I married an Italian cinematographer. All the places that these things happened in were places that I knew. This is quite a devastating book. There was just a side of me that thought if there is some way I could, I don’t know—I’d love to see a film of this one day.
We had mutual friends. I tracked Lisa down and she lived in a crumbled-down house in Umbria with her painter husband. Her whole life—she’s a very well known writer. She writes really from life and she’s quite magical with realism in a way that she writes and based stories on her life, which is really stranger than fiction. And there she was, and we talked about it. I just said, One day, I’d really like to turn this into a movie and just let me know if the rights are free and if they’d ever be. Then it just so happens that time went by and she said the rights are there—you still interested? And I said, Yes, I am.
It had quite a gestation. I wanted to turn it more into a thriller because the essential mystery of what happened to the child in the book is from both points of view, and to me, that wasn’t cinematic enough. I also felt that if we have to, you have to delay the knowledge of her background—the former and the past—and her mental condition. The only really way to do that is to see it through someone else’s eyes and then of course, that is going to be Will’s eyes.
Looking at IMDB, this was your first produced screenplay. Can you talk about the writing process?
Caroline Goodall: I went to Bristol University. I actually didn’t train—I guess that’s the word. I studied English and drama. At least two or three of my compatriots at the time have become very well known screenwriters, including Olivia Hetreed and Jeremy Brock. I was one of the few who ended up an actor. I think every actor is a writer inside. I think it is two sides of the same coin. No one knows this actually but when I first went to Hollywood, I did show someone a spec script that I’d written. I ended up getting a commission to write a screenplay based on English book called Dreams of Leaving and I even got paid 10,000 (inaudible) dollars in 1992. I think that gave me a lot of confidence that I could also write to order if I needed to. But at the same time, I landed Hook. I was given this Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval by Steven Spielberg. I was so fortunate and then I felt, Well, I better concentrate on making sure that this gift of kind of a movie career that he’s given me that I live up to it. I very much thought of concentrating on the acting but I was always writing in between but feeling that—to certain extent—it was a luxury for me to be able to write. Perhaps one day when my kids are grown, which is exactly what happened now, I’ll be able to say I’ll add another hat on to the career.
As an actress, what do you typically look for in a screenplay?
Caroline Goodall: Character complexity, somewhere to go, and a story arc. Now of course, as a woman actor, that isn’t necessarily always going to come your way—especially big budget movies. You know the old joke? The woman is there for the first 15 minutes as they set up the story, the man then goes off and has his adventure and then come back home and she welcomes him with open arms. (Laughs) I’ve made a few of those and they have been fun.
I’ve also done others where I’m the professional woman and that sort of woman in jeopardy and then you’ve got a job—you’re going to be coping with that. But it was interesting, I said someone else that I actually looked at the 85 projects—features and television series—that I’ve been involved with over 30 years: 6.5% were written by women. Even if I was playing the protagonist, they were written by men. I’m just kind of happy that I think there’s a little more openness to women screenwriters and women directors. But it doesn’t mean to say we have to tell specifically women’s story because I think that’s putting it as much back in the box as anything.
What I really pleased about with The Bay of Silence is that even though we have a women director, woman producer, we’ve got 50/50—I tried to make it as gender equal as I possibly could. We do actually have a male lead but in a way, he is very vulnerable. He also is, I guess, not what you call a fairly traditional man in a movie. He’s more of a modern man. He plays and bodies that brilliantly. Olga, of course, is quite amazing. She warmed to the script immediately. I’ve seen her and her French work as well. It’s just wonderful just to see her in English language be allowed to be more than an action heroine.
Is there any other thing you take into account when deciding on projects?
Caroline Goodall: These days, to be honest, I take very much the Maggie Smith line, which is—I remember her telling me when we were doing Hook, “Darling, if they’re offering you a job, just do it.” (Laughs) I think, we just feel lucky that we’re working and especially now, if you’re producing as well, you really do need to be able to have—as I call it—your day job just in case you’re delivering your film. There are some unexpected expenses that are coming up and of course, there are. The least I could say is I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and put that one down. I’m very grateful that I’m still working in front of the camera. And in fact, I’m going back in two weeks time to an Amazon film called Birds of Paradise that we where shooting in Budapest that was shut down on March 13 so that’s going to be an interesting experience.
With The Bay of Silence being released during a pandemic, do you fear that it could end up getting lost under the radar with so many people turning to nostalgia for comfort?
Caroline Goodall: No, I don’t and surprisingly, we always had a theatrical release planned with Vertical. And they told us of course, we don’t know if that can happen. But we’ve actually had a ton of physical theaters book this movie. So this weekend, we’ve got theaters in Kansas, Texas, and Colorado, all of which are doing actual physical releases is in a proper cinema. I’m really, really chuffed by that. We have the virtual cinema, of course, with Laemmle and some other circuit cinemas. And then, of course, the premium release. I actually do think even though this film is so beautiful, it looks amazing on the big screen and is shot in anamorphic so it should be seen on the big screen but it is also a film I think that can play on smaller screens because it’s about character. There’s not a ton of visual effects. You’ve got a small cast, and it’s very character-driven. I just hope that people are interested in—I think they’re looking for all sorts of fare at the moment. I think they’re looking for lighthearted entertainment but I think there’s also a lot of people out there who are looking for something a little bit more demanding. They’ve been through all the comedy series and reruns of Friends and Schitt’s Creek, which I adored, but now I’m actually interested in something else. I’m really hoping that this little movie resonates and I just feel so grateful. It’s a European film. We shot it—it’s a British film and a Dutch film, wonderful Dutch director Paula van Der Oest with her fantastic DP, Guido van Gennep. To have a release in the United States and to have the attention it’s been getting is just fantastic and I could not be more thrilled.
You portrayed Mia’s mom, Helen, in the two Princess Diaries movies. It’s my understanding that a third film is in the works. Is there anything you can tell us about the film’s status at this time?
Caroline Goodall: No. You know what? I know as much as you. Garry Marshall left us and I have no idea. I will let you know when I know. I’m not sure how much Mia’s mom is going to figure to be honest. But I really hope that there is a third—they were so much fun to do. I was mainly in the first one and popped into the second. If they can give me a split and a whistle in the third, I’ll be very happy. If it gets done, it should get done because it just—everyone loved it and it was just fantastic.
In fact, Sean O’Bryan is from my hometown.
Caroline Goodall: Is he?
Caroline Goodall: He’s such a great guy. He was so fun to work with. He really, really is. This is kind of the sad thing about COVID times is that we’re all so far away from each other. The people you think, I’ll catch up with them next time they’re in town, you go, oh my G-d, I can’t even have that thought anymore. Let’s hope this pandemic disappears. Where is your hometown then?
I grew up in Louisville but right now I’m in Chicago.
Caroline Goodall: Alright, okay. Well, that’s a big town. How’s it going?
Well, it would be better with a car so that way I could get away for a weekend to camp or something. Otherwise, I’ve just mostly been locked down in my apartment and only leaving to go grocery shopping.
Caroline Goodall: Wow. Have you got a balcony, a yard, or anything? Because I was in London during the first three months and am now in Italy, which for us is amazing because it was locked down so fast that it’s really great. We’re in the countryside here so I can quarantine without any problems. I remember hating the fact that I did not have a backyard in London. I just couldn’t get out. I couldn’t stand it.
I’m in a small apartment—no balcony, just a regular studio.
Caroline Goodall: Listen, I imagine you’re watching a lot of movies.
Yeah, I have been. I did both Princess Diaries films. It must have been April or May. It was whenever the Gary Marshall special aired on ABC.
Caroline Goodall: Oh, wow. Okay, goodness me. Well, I haven’t seen them for a while but actually, my daughter did last week. She said, “Oh, look, my Disney+ three months freebie is running out. I better start watching some stuff.” I suddenly heard and I’m like, I know that movie. What is it? “Princess Diaries, Mom. I haven’t seen it in years.” And there you go.