To follow his independent success of 2017 God’s country, Francis Lee was inspired by the story of a little-known British fossil collector, Mary Anning. For Ammonite, he embellished what little is known about Anning, fashioning a romantic story for her, and chose Kate Winslet as the enigmatic heroine and Saoirse Ronan as the young woman who cracks her shell.
Lee, joined by the Oscar-winning Winslet on the Neon Panel at Deadline’s Contenders Film Awards season event, said he stumbled upon Anning’s story by chance.
“I was actually looking for a gift for a friend who really liked polished stones and fossils,” he says. “So I Google searched a lot and Mary Anning’s name kept coming up. So I started to read about her and was immediately struck by her situation. Here is this woman, born into a working-class family, with access to very little education and thanks to her own tenacity and self-taught knowledge – and a genuine will to survive – became what I guess we would now call the paleontologist of foreground of his generation. It really struck me that she lived in a totally patriarchal and classy society, and how a working class woman achieved what she did was something that really made me want to investigate more. she.
Winslet says she was an admirer of Lee’s work before signing up for Ammonite, having been a fan of God’s country. “I remember thinking, ‘God, I wish I was in a movie like this,’” she said. “I loved the writing, the characters and the honesty which I found very, very beautiful and subtle. And so when I read Ammonite, he had a similar [sense] in terms of the sweetness and silence of the construction of the love story between these two women.
Check back for the panel video.