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Turtle: The Incredible Journey – Miranda Richardson on empathizing with a baby turtle

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Turtle: The Incredible Journey - Dr Tomo Eguchi,; Mike Price; director Nick Stringer; Miranda Richardson; Tim Downing
SeaWorld San Diego aquarist are joined by Academy Awardnominee Miranda Richardson as they return Maude, a Pacific green sea turtle, back to the ocean © 2011 Seaworld Pictures

 

Miranda Richardson’s exemplary career has engaged audiences for many years, starring in such notable movies as Dance With a Stranger, Enchanted April, Damage, Tom and Viv, The Crying Game, Made in Dagenham, The Young Victoria and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Her newest venture is narrating the movie Turtle: The Incredible Journey, which tells the fascination story of a little loggerhead turtle, born on a beach in Florida, who rides the Gulf Stream all the way to the frozen north and ultimately swims around the entire North Atlantic to Africa and back to the beach where she was born. Only one in 10,000 turtles survive the journey.

How did you get involved with this film?

Miranda Richardson
Awarding winning actress, Miranda Richardson

I wasn’t involved with any of the filming so it came to me as a finished product. They said, ‘Would you like to do this?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ I thought that the way it was presented was very beautiful and it had a broad range for people. I thought it was incredibly engaging, beautifully shot – it taught me a lot.

I certainly didn’t know the half of what goes on, on a turtle’s journey. I remember that awful scene from Suddenly Last Summer where the baby turtles are on the beach and the gulls are coming down (to kill them).

That memory from childhood stayed in my mind and I thought, ‘There has to be more to it than that,’ and boy is there!

When it came to you, did you have any input into the narration?

I’m quite wary of imposing too much tonally on something, because I like to give the audience credit. But there was a briefing on this one, you are empathizing with a baby turtle and going on a journey with her, and there has to be warmth, not just facts.

This is a vulnerable, tiny thing that’s out there being battered by the vastness of the ocean, is she going to make it or not? So there was a little more to do tonally than normal.

When you’re doing something like this, does it feel like another role?

Turtle: The Incredible Journey
Pacific green sea turtle starts it's journey © 2011 Seaworld Pictures

I feel like a server, her character is very obvious on screen the way they shot it, you seem to be inside her brain sometimes, so more of my job is to stand back and let the camerawork do most of the work, but just say, ‘We’re with you,’ so not really a role, more of an attitude.

I find nature film so hard to watch –

Me too, but I do watch them because I need to know, and I know so little. I think there is a feeling that it’s going to be turgid and I think, ‘I can’t deal with this, I want to watch a comedy show, I can’t save the planet all by myself.’

Well, no, but we can all get together and do some stuff, and I think it’s refreshing to see something that’s truthful alongside of all the other mostly crap that’s on television these days and out in movie theatres.

What’s your favorite scene in this?

Turtle: The Incredible Journey
Pacific green sea turtles in the ocean © 2011 Seaworld Pictures

I love when the older turtle is in the cold waters and she puts her head up and the northern lights are there. I know it’s kind of romantic, but they do go there, these things happen, and it’s a beautiful thing. If you were there, you would feel awe. And just the idea of this creature being in its perfect environment is what I love.

What was the most surprising thing you learned about the loggerhead turtles?

I think just the length of the journey, how long it takes to get back to the nesting beaches. They have this inward compass that takes them back. And also I didn’t know how long they had been around, 200 million years. It seems a shame to lose them now, doesn’t it?

I know you’re not in the finale next month, but do you have any final thoughts on the Harry Potter franchise?

I’m looking forward to Breaking Dawn! (she laughs) I think it’s a great thing to be a part of, I do truly. I think it’s something that’s going to last, even though the special effects move on at a pace. I think the storytelling, which is important, is pretty great.

I think there’s a back and forth that happens, the kids don’t just see the movies, they do read the books, so there is a wish to get involved in that world, which is great. I know the stories have a lot of detractors, but [JK Rowlings] got people reading again in a mass way.

Can you talk a little about Daniel, Rupert and Emma – they seem so grounded for kids who have grown up in these iconic roles?

They do seem very grounded, and that’s great, they have a great sense of humor so I don’t think they’ll get lost. I think they have a very strong work ethic. I don’t know whether they will all stay in the business. I can’t tell with Emma Watson or not if she will want to move on and diversify.

The other two will stick with it as long as it sticks with them. Daniel’s hoofing away on Broadway right now (in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying). Good for him, he’s showing that he’s really willing to try anything. I mean, it must give you a lot of confidence having practiced literally for so long, and the world is open to them.

What is it about Breaking Dawn that you love so much?

I’m a huge fan. I love it.

Then the most important question is … Team Edward or Team Jacob?

Oh Lord, don’t do that! Edward!