Exploring the ChesapeakeThe New World

Photo: Christopher Plummer portraying Captain Christopher Newport
A scene from New Line Cinema's film The New World
Photograph by Merie Wallace, SMPSP/New Line Productions
Photo: Native Americans at Jamestown, Virginia
Wes Studi as "Uncle Opechancanough" in New Line Cinema's film The New World
Photograph by Merie Wallace, SMPSP/New Line Productions

Price: I like that you took pains to represent the local native culture accurately. But the English, of course, are not all one sort of people at this time, either. John Smith is from a very rural part of the English countryside, and I wonder, is that something that your efforts went into—trying to figure out how to render Smith in the context of his times and place?

Green: Absolutely. We have a dialect coach called Catherine Charlton who's a real expert in all the various English accents, and she worked with each actor to find who's the character they're playing, where were they from, what would they have sounded like. Those actors who had great facility with accents, she would get them right spot-on for where that character historically would have come from. Others, if we didn't know, or if they were less comfortable, she would find what accent worked with them that was plausible for the time. So there are a variety of accents within the colonists' community. It just makes for more realism.

You don't want to do anything to jar the viewer from the world. You want to be as in the world as you can be, and that actually works on the set, too. We chose a style of shooting that did not involve lighting; we just worked with the sunlight—until we got to London, of course, where we had big interiors and had to light. But otherwise, we really worked with the sun, and it allowed the actors the complete freedom on the set to move around like this was the world.

Price: So they didn't have cables snaking around and lights overhead and so on.

Green: No, it was 360, and we'd just run around behind them, and see twenty people scrambling to get behind camera as they turned.

Price: I don't know anything about filmmaking, but it almost sounds like a documentary style.

Green: In a way. There's a real naturalism to it that was, I think, quite beneficial to everyone. But that being said, there are other choices that you make to serve the story you're trying to tell, so I can't say we're by any means 100 percent historically correct. There's going to be people poking holes in all sorts of things. Like, we know the character of [Edward-Maria] Wingfield, who was president of the colony for some time, did not die in the way he does in our movie. We know that the translator character, the character we called Tomocomo, is probably the one who accompanied Pocahontas to England and not her uncle Opechancanough, but there's a story point we were making. So there were leaps we made to serve the story, but none that we feel throw you out of the reality of that world.

Price: You're right, Tomocomo is the one who went with Pocahontas to London.

Even though I haven't seen the movie, I have to tell you I'm pulling for you. It's fantastic that you've been able to pull together so many of the top people in the film world to bring this period to life.

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