By: Pete Hammond
Andy Serkis might be best known as Caesar in the Planet of the Apes reboot films or Gollum in the Lord of the Rings franchise, but he’s about to surprise the world with his ability behind the scenes in a very different kind of movie.
Serkis makes his directorial debut with Breathe, the true story of Robin Cavendish, who became tethered to a breathing machine in order to stay alive after contracting polio in 1958 at age 28. With his wife Diana driving him to keep a will to live, he went on with his life and family for several decades after first being told he wouldn’t last a year. This is definitely not the kind of material we have associated the clearly multi-talented Serkis with in the past, but he does the Cavendish story proud in a movie that gives us hope for the human spirit, an inspiring and beautiful film that blissfully avoids the clichés of a genre that can get maudlin and sappy very quickly.
As I say in my video review (click the link above to watch), a better comparison for Breathe is 2014’s The Theory of Everything, with Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones as Stephen and Jane Hawkins as they struggle to rise above Hawking’s debilitating condition. That’s what Cavendish does as well with the unstoppable optimism of his wife. As played by Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy, we have another pair of actors in a heart-wrenching drama that deserve strong awards consideration.
Continue reading Deadline ‘Breathe’ Review
By: Hillary Busis
There’s a swoon-worthy romance at the center of Breathe, the beautifully shot period drama that marks the directorial debut of actor Andy Serkis—but that’s only part of the story. The film focuses on Robin Cavendish, a mid-century British tea broker who found himself facing a dire prognosis after being struck by polio at the age of 28. Cavendish was paralyzed from the neck down, at a time when that condition usually sentenced patients to a lifetime in a hospital bed—but he managed to live a full and exciting life all the same, becoming a critical advocate for the disabled and helping to invent a mobile respirator that dramatically improved quality of life for him and other paralyzed people in the process.
The film stars Andrew Garfield as Cavendish and Claire Foy as Diana, his devoted wife—an English rose with a spine of pure steel. You’ll see their love bloom in this new trailer for the film, debuting exclusively on Vanity Fair—and you’ll also see them face extraordinary adversity. Perhaps it’s best summed up in this simple exchange: “You can’t love this,” a despondent Cavendish tells his wife shortly after learning the extent of his paralysis. “Apparently, I can,” Diana replies.
Serkis was inspired to tell the story by someone who was very close to it: his producing partner, Jonathan Cavendish, the son of Robin and Diana. As Serkis told Vanity Fair’s Katey Rich and Mike Hogan ahead of the film’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, he felt a personal connection to the story as well. “My upbringing was very much in a medical world. My father was a doctor in Iraq; he created a hospital for people in Baghdad. My mum taught disabled children, so I grew up with children who had polio and spina bifida, and it’s always been part of my life. These stories, I do feel a vested interest.“
The film, which also features Game of Thrones alum Diana Rigg and Downton Abbey stalwart Hugh Bonneville, opens in limited release October 13, and will expand in the following weeks.
by Matt Grobar
A pioneer in the field of computer-generated performances with such films as Lord of the Rings (portraying Gollum) and King Kong—in which he plays Kong himself—Andy Serkis found his directorial breakthrough in The Jungle Book, which was pushed to 2018 so as not to conflict with Jon Favreau’s 2016 adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic collection of stories. But no matter—in the meantime, Serkis shot another film, Breathe, which bowed at the Toronto Film Festival this week.
Starring Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy—an Emmy frontrunner for her turn as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown, that can’t quite process that reality at the moment—the film tells the true story of Robin Cavendish (Garfield), a young man paralyzed by polio, and Diana, the strong, brilliant woman who supported her husband through his deep depression and ultimate acceptance of his fate. With very little expectation of a long life for Robin, he and Diana elect to invent a new life for themselves, straying from Robin’s mandated hospital stay and pioneering in technology to better the lives of those suffering from this terrible condition.
Interestingly, this remarkable true story came to Serkis through his business partner at Imaginarium Productions, Jonathan Cavendish, the son of the couple on display in the film. Known for his work in very different kinds of movies, Serkis made a passionate pitch to direct the film. “Five or six years ago, we started Imaginarium [Productions]. It was a performance capture studio and a production entity with the view to creating lots of different projects, ‘next generation storytelling’ sort of projects, and then we had an old slate of films that he was wanting to make. One of these films was a film called Breathe, which he’d been working on for some time before we got together,” Serkis explains. ” I read it one night and, as most people did who read the script originally, I couldn’t stop crying. It was just so powerful, such a brilliant piece of writing, and I said to Jonathan, ‘I know I’m sort of more known for directing dwarves, goblins and creatures of Middle-earth, and jungle animals, but I really would love to direct this. What do you think?’”
“He said, ‘Absolutely’—without a blink, he just said, ‘Yeah,’” the director remembers. “So we started to develop it, and what I loved about it—what really inspired me to want to do it, actually, apart from the fact that it was the most amazing love story—was that it seemed to me to be a story about pioneering. At that point in the story when Diana says, ‘How can I make life better for you?’ and he says, ‘Get me out of here,’ from then on, they are basically creating life afresh in a way that had never been done before.” Continue reading ‘Breathe’s Andrew Garfield On “How We Can Create Lives Of Meaning And Joy” Amidst Tragedy
by Etan Vlessing
The ‘Lord of the Rings’ star said his drama about a real-life couple who overcome huge challenges is “about the power of love.”
Lord of the Rings star Andy Serkis on Tuesday said his directorial debut, Breathe, is an inspiring tale of struggling against adversity, not a dark take on disaster.
“We were elevating not just a story of survival, but creating a metaphor for our times, about the power of love,” Serkis said of his drama about British advocate for the disabled Robin Cavendish. The film, starring Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy, follows Cavendish after he was paralyzed with polio at the age of 28 and given just three months to live.
Against all advice, his wife Diane brought him home from the hospital and inspired him to lead a long and fulfilled life. Serkis said Diane Cavendish’s staying with her husband when she had the option to leave was an act of love that lay at the foundation of Breathe.
“Nowadays it’s so easy to walk away. We live in a massive throwaway world. We are so alienated from one another now,” he told reporters at the TIFF press conference. “That’s why I found the power of this film so strong. It’s a reminder of what true love actually is,” Serkis added. Continue reading Toronto: Andy Serkis Says ‘Breathe’ Is a “Metaphor for Our Times”
by Scott Feinberg
The ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ nominee plays Robin Cavendish, a man stricken in his prime with polio, opposite ‘The Crown’ star Claire Foy in Andy Serkis’ directorial debut.
Breathe, a film that once upon a time would have been called “a four-hanky picture” and starred Walter Pidgeon and Greer Garson, could return Andrew Garfield to the Oscars as a best actor nominee — just a year after he landed his first Oscar nomination, in that category, for Hacksaw Ridge — for playing another real-life hero. And it might bring The Crown’s Claire Foy along for the ride, too, in the best actress or, more likely, best supporting actress category.
Andy Serkis’ feature directorial debut, which chronicles the life of Robin Cavendish (Garfield) — a British man who was stricken in his prime with polio but, thanks to the tireless support of his wife Diana Cavendish (Foy), son Jonathan and friends, persevered to an extent that no person with polio ever had before — premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday, leaving most of those in Roy Thomson Hall sniffling and then standing in applause when the cast and some of the people they portray were acknowledged. Continue reading ‘Breathe’ Could Return Andrew Garfield to Oscars for Second Consecutive Year
Claire Foy won’t let her onscreen husband’s life be restricted in an exclusive sneak peek from the upcoming biopic Breathe.
In the clip, Foy (The Crown) stars as Diana, the wife of Robin Cavendish, a late advocate for the disabled portrayed by Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge). Robin was only given three months to live after being paralyzed by polio at the age of 28, and became bedridden in a hospital.
While Garfield’s Robin lies attached to a ventilator, Foy’s Diana prods his doctor, “Can machines like that only work in a hospital?”
When the doctor confirms “it’s just a machine” that simply requires a power source, Diana states, “Robin is going to leave the hospital.”
Diana then confirms to the skeptical doctor that she knows the risks of taking a patient in Robin’s condition out of the hospital. “Yes, yes I do. The risk is that he might die,” she says.
Watch how her husband reacts to his wife’s daring proposal in the full clip above.
by Lynn Hirschberg
Claire Foy was fairly unknown until 2016, when she changed everyone’s idea of royalty with her role as a coming-of-age Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix’s The Crown. Foy, who won both the SAG and Golden Globe awards for Best Actress in a Drama, has now proved that she is a star. Here, the British actress talks about how she landed the life-changing role, what it’s like to wear the Queen’s girdle, and everything you can expect from the show’s second final season.
How old were you when you started thinking about becoming an actress?
Probably 20, which is quite late. It never really occurred to me that it was something that I could do really being an actress. I never really thought it was a life or a job or anything that was accessible to someone like me. So it was only when I went to university and kind of got a bit of confidence that I considered it, I suppose.
What was the first thing you auditioned for?
It was a TV show called Being Human (click here for screencaptures). I played werewolf’s ex-fiancé who had epilepsy. And I wore like a really hideous sort of shiny coat with a fur hood. I didn’t have an agent at the time, so I went in just really luckily got the job.
Did you feel immediately like this is it, this is what I want to be doing?
Actually on that first job I had a terrible time and I was really bad in it. And I really struggled. I just didn’t get it. I remember the director shouting at me. “It’s time to start acting now, darling.” I’d never been on a film set in that way before. I had no idea what I was doing. But it was sort of a baptism of fire. But everyone’s got to have it because you can only learn on the job, in a way.
And did you not get depressed? You just kept going?
Yeah, then I just kept going really. I did a play, I did a bit more telly and then I just paid attention and tried to absorb how to behave as much as possible. Continue reading The Crown’s Claire Foy On the Struggles of Being a New Mom and an Actress
Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy Star in a Tale of Love and Polio
The trailer for Breathe plays itself at first like a jaunty period romantic comedy — the type of particularly English comedy of manners we’ve all seen before. “I could ask you to dance, and you could say ‘Well, I don’t feel like dancing,'” says a suit-clad Andrew Garfield. “And I could say, ‘Well, maybe some other time.”
“Or I could just not ask,” he tells Claire Foy, doing her best bashful brit in a ballgown. He grabs her by the hand, and off to the dance floor and a subsequent whirlwind romance they go. They even go for a drive in one of those newfangled automobiles, as people in the ’50s loved to do.
Then comes the almost expected beat where her family doesn’t approve of the courtship. Foy’s character father protests that she hardly even knows the man, and she replies, “The thing is, I just know this is it.”
It’s all very expected and familiar, until, of course, we’re all reminded why people who say “Oh, I was born in the wrong time period. I just wish I could live back then” are completely misguided.
That thing, in this case, is polio. Garfield’s character contracts a nasty strain of the then incurable disease and is relegated to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, which totally leaves us with a completely different movie than the first 45 seconds of the trailer had set us up for.
The film is actually based on the real life story of Robin Cavendish, a British tea broker who was paralyzed from the neck down at the age of 28 and set out to become both an advocate and example for the disabled. Initially given just three months to live and told he would never leave the hospital again due to his need to be hooked up to a breathing device at all times, Cavendish sought more and pushed for medical advances that would help him live a fuller life. He went on to travel wildly, remained a devoted husband and father, and picked up an Order of the British Empire along the way.
Garfield takes the part fresh off his first Academy Award nomination, and clearly hopes to keep his string of challenging roles going. Foy meanwhile finds herself as a big screen leading lady for only the second time after 2011’s Wreckers, and the first after her breakthrough role as a young Queen Elizabeth in The Crown.
The film will also mark the directorial debut of Andy Serkis, yes the actor best known for his performance captures roles like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings saga (Serkis actually oversaw filming of Jungle Book before directing Breathe, but the former CGI-heavy film won’t be released until next year).
Breathe is scheduled to open the BFI London Film Festival on October 4th, and then hit select theaters later that month.