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Ensemble of leading women stars in 'Paradise Road'


April 11, 1997
Web posted at: 11:40 p.m. EDT (0340 GMT)

From Correspondent Sherry Sylvester

(CNN) -- Hundreds of women -- and a few men -- signed on to the cast of "Paradise Road," a tale of women who make the best of life in a Japanese prison camp during World War II.

Filming took them to locations in three countries, with Singapore and Australia providing most of the scenery.

On-screen, the Oscar, Tony and Emmy-winning actresses portray the grim captivity of POWs in Southeast Asia. Off-camera, they enjoyed a rare camaraderie.

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"I think that's the power of the film and where it succeeds in giving you the impression that it was so hard for us to do. But, in fact, it was a beautiful place and we were all very happy," Frances McDormand said.

McDormand and co-star Glenn Close were among the working mothers on the set.

McDormond, Close, Margulies

"We had our kids around, which was fantastic," Close said. "My Annie was an extra. She just played with the kids from dawn till dusk."

Just out of sight of the fictional prison camp in Australia was a four-mile beach.

"A lot of us used the beach as our daily constitutional and our source of exercise, so it was really great to go out on the bike with my son on the back at 6 in the morning with a bottle in his mouth and pass all the ladies out there running and walking," McDormand said.

"We had these ongoing card games and boggle sessions," Julianna Margulies explained. "It's a word game where you have to make as many words as you can in three minutes."

Margulies joined the cast and director Bruce Beresford during a hiatus from ER, and she said the experience of working with so many first-rate actors was well worth the trip.

"To me, the lead actor in the film is the ensemble," Margulies said.

The story spans 3 1/2 years of internment and required its players to become progressively thinner.

"There was our special table and then everyone else," Margulies said. "The crew guys had this luscious food. It was really awful."

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