County Interview with Geraldine Somerville
Somerville does tour de force turn in `Cracker: Brotherly Love'
By Kinney Littlefield, Orange Country Register
like daggers, jaw like a fist, mouth like a wound that won't
heal. In Cracker: Brotherly Love Detective Sgt. Jane Penhaligon
(Geraldine Somerville) is dangerously numb and full of rage
following her terrifying rape, probably by colleague Det. Sgt.
Jimmy Beck (Lorcan Cranitch), in the earlier Cracker movie Men
Should Weep.Yet before Somerville's Penhaligon implodes she
explodes in a remarkable television moment. Sitting on the edge
of a high-rise rooftop after she watches two men fall to their
deaths, Somerville howls with grief, fear and rage. It's a
terrible wail, extending eerily through the film's final credits
as she's cradled by Robbie Coltrane, who plays ace forensic
psychologist Dr. Eddie 'Fitz' Fitzgerald. "I was really
nervous," Somerville said recently of her primal yowl from
London, where she was starring on stage in Blue Remembered
Hills'' at the National Theatre."Director Roy Battersby
told me `This is the moment she starts to recover. I want you to
let it all out.' And I said 'But how,how do you find that, so
deep inside?' Then on the second take, my legs actually went,
like having an enormous orgasm, and it was such a relief.''
Added Coltrane of Penhaligon's rooftop crisis, "Geraldine
went into it so deeply I thought she would die.''
preparing for the role of rape victim was a more intellectual
than emotional experience for Somerville. "I do know
someone who was raped, and we talked a bit, but it seemed kind
of voyeuristic to use someone else's horrific experience, so
most of my research was through books,'' she said. "Penhaligon's
hairstyle (drawn back in a brutally tight French braid) helped a
lot in achieving tension. We wanted a complete denial of her
femininity, the hair, the clothes (like dark, anonymous prison
garb), the trainers (athletic shoes) so she can run. "She's
half-dead, not dealing with it. And she's kind of happy with
that, and she thinks she can cope. But obviously no one can
really deal with rape that way.'' Later, Penhaligon must go
undercover as a prostitute. All tarted up in tight leather skirt
and thick lipstick, she confronts Beck at a squad meeting. The
effect is enormously unsettling. But Somerville still shivers
over the birthday card scene, when Beck bends closely over
Penhaligon, forcing her to sign a card for the widow of their
murdered boss. It's a prime Hitchcock moment. "They way
they lit the scene it was so dark we couldn't even see the crew.
The feeling Roy (Battersby) gave it was that she's working,
working, working, and suddenly she knows she's not alone. She
feels danger and looks around - and it's him. She feels his
presence, she knows he's invading her.'
Unofficial Guide To Cracker 1999-2006