Rolling Hills Estates (RHE) into Calcutta
By Shanna Thompson News Staff Writer
Verdes Peninsula News
Thursday, November 15, 2001
Below is a reprint of the article
In the trailer for the movie
"Teresa," Olivia Hussey, playing Mother Teresa, blesses a man. The
rosary on her hand belonged to Mother Teresa.
With a dirt path,
run-down shelters and Mother Teresa blessing a group
of East Indians, the scene appeared to capture a moment drawn out of
Only the day was last Saturday, the location was Rolling
Hills Estates, the Indians were extras and "Mother Teresa" was
acclaimed actress Olivia Hussey, famous for playing Shakespeare’s
ill-fated lover in the 1968 film "Romeo and Juliet."
In one day last weekend, Riead Productions Cinema West,
located in Palos Verdes Estates, recaptured the past and shot the
trailer for "Teresa," a movie inspired by the life story of Mother
The rest of the production will be shot in Calcutta, India,
when the region is more secure.
"We were trying to duplicate India as much as we could,
but we were kind of at a loss of where to go for that," said producer
Lisa Riead, a resident of RHE. "We were heading up the street (to
consider the Empty Saddle Club) and we just kind of looked over our
shoulders, and there was Ed’s house."
The location was 1 1/2 acres in Ed and Florence Siudmak’s
backyard on Shadow Lane, where the couple has lived for 44 years.
interesting experience because I never expected to have
a full production down in our backyard, down by the corral, no less,"
Ed said. "It’s a lot of fun, and I’m enjoying it."
Florence agreed, saying, "It’s a lot of fun for everyone. They
know what they have to do and go about it and get it done."
With the help of corrugated metal and burlap brought in to cover
the existing barn and corral, as well as a rickshaw from a "Seinfeld"
episode, the area was transformed into the slums of Calcutta.
"It fit the bill perfectly. We were transported right
said co-producer and Director of Photography Jack Green, nominated for
an Academy Award for Best Cinematography in "Unforgiven."
"[The set designer] did a marvelous job. The people from India
who were there agreed that it looked like the real thing." said
Executive Producer Corky Barton. "We are taking the responsibility of
making this film on Mother Teresa extremely seriously.
We are shooting
this in an epic motion picture style, the same style as ‘Gandhi’ was
shot. We have those kinds of expectations all the way down. Every
possible stop is pulled out to make this everything that it is supposed
"My vision was
authenticity," said RHE resident Bill Riead, the movie’s director,
producer and writer.
Even the rosary
held in her hand during the shoot
Mother Teresa, he said.
Prosthetics makeup by Kevin Haney, who
five Emmy awards and one Academy award, transformed Hussey into a
Mother Teresa in her 80’s.
challenge, Lisa Riead said, was making everything
"We knew how we wanted it to work, but then it was a
putting the plan into action and making sure it went smoothly," she
said. "We surprised ourselves."
Hussey was really the only choice to play Mother Teresa, said
Riead. Not only had Jacqueline Onassis at one time said Hussey should
be the actress for the role if a movie was made, but Mother Teresa
herself asked that Hussey be selected to play her in a film.
Given the nature of the role and Hussey’s own
wrote a letter to Pope John Paul II, said Bill Riead. "The letter came
back with Pope John Paul II giving her not just his blessing, but the
Apostolic Blessing, which is the highest blessing you get from the
Pope," he said.
The Rieads and Barton said they felt as though they had
some outside help making everything run smoothly.
"When Bill yelled, ‘Cut, that’s a wrap,’ and everyone
clapping, then all the leaves on the trees started falling. It was one
of those goose-bumps moments," Lisa Riead said.
"We kept thinking Mother Teresa had a halo around the set," Barton
said. "When it was over, she took a deep breath and the leaves fell off
and we were done."
said Green, also fills a void in the movie
"Most movies are aimed at a 12-year-old mentality and don’t have an
enormous amount of substance," he said. "You can’t predict the success
of movies, but what I can predict is the story line, and the feel of
the movie will be very large and grand.
We will be telling a story that
is overdue, and people will want to spend their money on a film that
has this importance and uplifting sort of quality." Olivia Hussey
Hussey said challenges in playing the role of Mother
the four hours of makeup application and learning how to play the part.
a book on her life story and watching television
specials," she said. "Her accent and way of being will be a challenge."
Playing the role of Mother Teresa, said Hussey, has been a
"I’ve wanted to play her for 18 to 20 years now. She was
just such an unbelievable human being," she said.
With the recent terrorist attacks, Hussey said, people need this
type of film.
"After what happened Sept. 11, people need films and stories to
lift their spirits, and this woman’s life would do that."
Hussey said she is excited about the film,
especially since she
the Pope’s blessing, as well as Onassis’ and Mother Teresa’s
recommendations that she play the part. "It’s all these endorsements
that are very appreciated," she said.
"My dream would be the kind of quality film that would be like a
‘Gandhi,’ which is one of my favorite films," Hussey said. "I’m very
particular, and I don’t want to appear in just anything. I prefer to
appear in things that mean something to me."
Hussey said the film has been a dream. "It’s something I’ve
do for a long time. Hopefully it’s blessed and will work out
beautifully. I’m certainly proud to be a part of it, and it’s an honor
to play someone so devine and beautiful.
"I’m a very spiritual person anyway," she said. "To be
remembered as someone who did spiritual things would be a delight."
"Teresa" is expected to be released by the end of next
in Latin America, Asia and Europe, with an emphasis on Italy and the
Latino countries. It will also be release in the United States and
Palos Verdes Peninsula News
Thursday, November 15, 2001