At a Wednesday evening service in Connecticut this week, after elegant readings and testimonies on infinite supply, I had the occasion to speak to several members of the church. There was a very lively conversation about our film and Mrs. Eddy. They were supportive and curious about how the film was progressing, particularly wondering who will play Mrs. Eddy. I mentioned that it is obviously the role of a lifetime, meaning that it will probably be the most challenging and rewarding role imaginable. It is one thing to be inspired by genius, insight and prowess — to be inspired by God; it is quite another to embody it, reflect it, in the eyes.
It is an interesting challenge.
A cinema is not a church. People may have expectations that are not realistic in relation to the movie. Or in relation to Mrs. Eddy herself. The beauty of the medium of film is that it provides an intimate view into the daily lives of characters, even those who have become icons for us. It offers a unique window into their struggles and triumphs, giving us the opportunity to relate to them in a fresh way.
One church member mentioned that she was concerned that the actress playing the role may overshadow Mrs. Eddy — that one may leave the cinema talking more about the actress than Mrs. Eddy. For this reason she felt the actress should be an unknown rather than a star. This is an unlikely problem for two reasons: one, it is hard to imagine the character of Mrs. Eddy being outshined by anyone; two, I in my work as a director will devote myself to ensuring that there is a proper balance and that her character is embodied with dignity, subtlety and grace.
Another topic that came up was the idea that the actress who plays Mrs. Eddy must be very spiritual, humble and a good example. Indeed Mark Twain may have been thinking of Mrs. Eddy herself when he said, “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” While it is not up to me to determine how an actress spends her time off the set, I appreciate this sentiment and also expect that the woman who plays her will bring a deep sense of spirituality, commitment, warmth and compassion to the work.
As these concerns come up among those who most love Mrs. Eddy and seek to see her accurately potrayed (as I do most of all!), I am committed to pressing forward in the sometimes daunting but always inspiring quest to make this film a reality, holding to the words of a hymn we sang at the service: “We expect a bright tomorrow, All will be well…” — Christian Science Hymnal, #350.