of Calcutta movie

Witness the Power of Love
The Saint of the 20th Century

Riead Productions  Director William Riead

Olivia Hussey as
Mother Teresa of Calcutta

A letter came back with Pope John Paul II giving [Hussey] not just his blessing, but the Apostolic Blessing, which is the highest blessing you can get from the Pope."  -Bill Riead writer/director

Movie Set Transforms 
Rolling Hills Estates (RHE) into Calcutta

By Shanna Thompson News Staff Writer

Palos 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 Calcutta, India.

   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."

Riead Productions Corporation

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 Teresa.

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.

"It’s an 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 to India," 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 to be."

"My vision was authenticity," said RHE resident Bill Riead, the movie’s director, producer and writer.

Teresa on Location with Kevin Haney Make up artist

Even the rosary Hussey held in her hand during the shoot belonged to Mother Teresa
, he said.

Prosthetics makeup by Kevin Haney, who has won five Emmy awards and one Academy award, transformed Hussey into a Mother Teresa in her 80’s.


The biggest challenge, Lisa Riead said, was making everything come together.

Teresa a William Riead production

"We knew how we wanted it to work, but then it was a challenge 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 Bill 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 spirituality, she 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 started 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."

   The movie, said Green, also fills a void in the movie industry. "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 Teresa include the four hours of makeup application and learning how to play the part.

  "I’m reading a book on her life story and watching television specials," she said. "Her accent and way of being will be a challenge."

Olivia Hussey - 'Teresa Transformation'  By Dennis Johnson News Staff Writer

Playing the role of Mother Teresa, said Hussey, has been a longtime goal.

   "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."
Olivia Hussey as Madre Teresa

  Hussey said she is excited about the film, especially since she has 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 wanted to 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 year, first 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 Canada.

Palos Verdes Peninsula News
Thursday, November 15, 2001

  Teresa Movie Trailer

The Making of Teresa Trailer

After Juliet - The Age

Info on Palos Verdes Peninsula

Links on Mother Teresa

Official Site of the Cause of Canonization









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