By Olivia Williams
12:15PM GMT 07 Jan 2014
In her monthly column, Olivia Williams explains why she won't be left out in the cold while shooting her new movie
I am embarking on a new movie starting tomorrow. Off up to Harrogate to shoot a creepy film set in a big draughty house. I was last in Harrogate in 1993 to play Madeline Bassett in PG Wodehouse’s Summer Lightning, and I shall take my shiny new Christmas edition of the book to warm me up between the scenes of shivering terror and suspense. It will be mostly night shoots, so I’m afraid I got a bit minty and stipulated early on that there needed to be a warm, dry room with a soft, flat surface for lying on available between shots. I am a reasonably tough cookie when called upon to survive in basic conditions, but the trouble with filming is that you cannot take the normal precautions to keep warm. You can neither move around when you choose, nor keep your very-warm-but-unflattering hat on nor keep out of the draughts. Warm drinks produce clouds of condensation when you talk so it is not uncommon to ask actors to suck ice cubes on a really cold night with lots of dialogue.
Last year I was absurdly stoical, if you remember, and agreed to three consecutive night shoots in a lake in Atlanta and ended up with a nasty bacterial infection in practically every orifice. My husband ended his television series in similar conditions – three days in a tank full of dirty water followed by shingles – so this time I am not taking any chances. Annoying friends – who shop regularly at North Face and are never without a layer of something scientific that wicks moisture away from the skin yet would insulate a corpse – scoff and wonder why actors are so lame.
It is now a month since my father died. I can only marvel at all the people involved in his passing, from Kate the dedicated ambulance paramedic, via Martin the twinkly funeral director, Robin the beloved priest, Pearl the registrar (“this is my first death, I’ve only done births and marriages before…” Me too, I replied…) to Victor the friendly gravedigger. There was an eternal quality to each personality – I felt as if I had met each one before in Newman Noggs, at Bartholomew Fair or on the Road to Canterbury. Everyone performed the function they’d undertaken with no quibbles, complaints or delays, but added their own sincere words of condolence. It was a model of punctiliousness that should be applied to business practices everywhere. The only exceptions were the charlatans who sold us a mobility scooter three days before he died then refused to take it back, but I entertain myself with the thought that their business strategy was lifted from my father’s favourite play, Volpone.
(Edited) Mod Note: Looking around twitter, the movie is