Amy (Rachel Weisz) and Yanko (Vincent Perez) are star-crossed lovers in Swept From The Sea
Dr. Kennedy (Ian McKellen) is the voice of reason in a town filled with hate.
When Beeban Kidron asked me to play Dr Kennedy, I looked at her television film of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, whose leading character was a young woman dealing with her lesbianism. I was confident that Dr Kennedy's regard for Yanko in Swept from the Sea would be sensitively handled, based as it is on a sexual attraction. This is only confirmed in the climactic scene where the wily Miss Swaffer tells Kennedy that she knows the basis for his jealousy of Yanko's bride, Amy Foster. So Willocks' screenplay has a love triangle, although this is not remarked on in the official publicity notes which follow.
I had hugely admired Rachel Weisz onstage (in the London production of Noel Coward's Design for Living) and Vincent Perez in the film La Reine Margot. With Kathy Bates supporting them, I should have been a fool not to want to be involved with such a talented group. It was also fun to work again with Zoe Wanamaker (Othello) Tom Bell (Bent) and Joss Ackland (David Copperfield 1966).
I enjoyed, too, filming in Cornwall, whose startling, marine landscape was so fitting for the Conrad story. Initially Rachel and I shared a house until I could move into Trevor Nunn's summer house near our locations in Polzeath on the north coast. There was a remarkable sense of family amongst cast and crew, stemming mainly from our director's pregnancy (she delivered the week after shooting ended) and her caring attitude to everyone involved.
Three years after its release, I am still puzzled by the film's short life in the cinema, where Dick Pope's photography is gorgeous. But on the home screen, Conrad's haunting tale of emotional repression works very well. — Ian McKellen, June 2000