Monday, 11 March 2013

Pleasure island: Actress Naomie Harris returns to Jamaica for latest TV role


Pleasure island: Actress Naomie Harris returns to Jamaica for latest TV role

By NAOMIE HARRIS

As an actress I've been lucky to be involved in a number of movies filmed in the Caribbean. I was in After The Sunset, with Pierce Brosnan and Salma Hayek, which was shot in the Bahamas. And, in perhaps my best-known role, I was Tia Dalma in the Pirates Of The Caribbean films with Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley, which was also shot in the Bahamas, in Freeport.

A view of the luxury Whitehouse resort in Jamaica
Sun, sea and Sandals: The luxury Whitehouse resort
I've been to the Caribbean many times, especially when I was growing up as my mother was born in Jamaica and we used to go there when I was a child. But, for various reasons, I hadn't been back for 17 years. 
So when I had the chance to return to complete filming on the new BBC adaptation of Small Island, based on Andrea Levy's novel, I was really excited. 
I play the main character Hortense, one of the generation of Jamaicans who, similar to my grandparents, emigrated from Jamaica and struggled to make a new life in Britain. The story goes through the post-war years up to the modern day, showing how much things have changed for the better. 
Most of the filming took place in Northern Ireland as Belfast 'played' the part of postwar London. I spent two months in the city which was one of the nicest places I have visited - the people are so friendly. 
On the flight there I sat next to a viscount, who invited me and my friends to have a marvellous dinner at his house in County Fermanagh because he wanted to show us how welcoming his country is. Northern Ireland was great and I was certainly sad to leave, but it was wonderful to head off to Jamaica and get some Caribbean sun. 
Jamaica tends to get a bad Press as there are often reports of violence. You may not want to linger in the capital Kingston, but outside the city I found the island delightful, with the local people very kind and friendly. 
I decided to fly out my mother, stepfather, brother and sister so when filming finished we could enjoy a family holiday - the perfect chance to unwind after all the hard work. 
Naomie Harris is pictured on a jetty in front of the Sandals yacht
All aboard: Naomie finds her sea legs
When I was little, my mother and I used to have a Jamaican holiday every year. But it was so long ago that I had no particular memories of places. What I did remember, though, were the smells and tastes of the island. 
Had things changed much in the past 20 years or so? My mother and stepfather didn't think it had altered as much as they had expected, but there was the occasional disappointment. 
My mother was particularly anxious to revisit Port Royal where my parents had enjoyed a wonderful holiday years ago. Port Royal was once called 'the richest and wickedest city in the world'. It is straight out of Pirates Of The Caribbean, with a history rich in tales about Spanish gold looted on the high seas by the notorious 'Brethren of the Coast', as the local pirates were called. 
But Mum was surprised to find that hotels were closing because of a lack of visitors. This seems extraordinary because it is a fascinating town and well worth a trip. 
The places thriving on Jamaica are the all-inclusive resorts. We spent a week in the Whitehouse, a Sandals resort on the southern coast, 25 miles from Negril. 
In its brochure, the Whitehouse European Village & Spa talks about 'a place completely unspoiled by the ravages of time, where the alabaster-white sand beaches bear no footprints, and the lush greenery and richly-coloured flowering vines scent the air with the purest of perfumes'. 
And indeed it feels like heaven on earth: surrounded by a 500-acre nature reserve, the Whitehouse boasts two beaches more than two miles in length. It was just what I needed, somewhere to flop and recharge the batteries. But if you do want a busy holiday, lots of sporting activities are included in the price, such as sailing, scuba-diving, water-skiing and windsurfing.
One of the biggest attractions is the food, also included in the price. There are six restaurants, including Italian and Asian fine dining and a French cafe offering patisseries and crepes. They also have lots of local Jamaican food, but not, alas, my favourite curried goat. I grew up on it, cooked by my aunt who made a brilliant curry.
Naomie as Tia Dalma in Pirates of the Caribbean
Naomie as Tia Dalma in Pirates of the Caribbean
As I am away filming so often, travelling can seem a little too much like work. My most adventurous trip abroad was a climbing holiday in Mexico which I did on my own. 
Usually, if I want a break I prefer to head for the English countryside. I've recently had great stays at Cliveden in Berkshire, and at the Rookery Hall Hotel in Nantwich in Cheshire where the Beckhams had their engagement party. 
My next big project is a film based on the life story of the musician Ian Dury in which I play the part of his partner. It's a great story but filming will be nearer Billericay than Barbados. 
I don't envisage hitting the beach much on that one.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1228296/Pleasure-island-Actress-Naomie-Harris-returns-Jamaica-latest-TV-role.html#ixzz2LpA1cLix
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Sam Mendes Won't Direct Bond 24 - Empireonline.com Exclusive

Sam Mendes Won't Direct Bond 24
Exclusive on 'a very difficult decision'

06 March 2013 | Written by Phil de Semlyen | Source: Exclusive

  
Sam Mendes, Skyfall

Bond may be back, but Empire can exclusively reveal that Sam Mendes won't be joining him. At the BAFTAs recently, basking in the glow of Skyfall's triumph for Outstanding British Film, it seemed that Mendes, who had previously claimed he would make just the single Bond entry, could be tempted back for another go. But, having bumped into the Oscar-winning director on a barren Scottish glen - or was it a glitzy Macau casino? - he confided in us that he won't be returning to direct Bond 24.

“It has been a very difficult decision not to accept Michael and Barbara’s very generous offer to direct the next Bond movie," explained Mendes. "Directing Skyfall was one of the best experiences of my professional life, but I have theatre and other commitments, including productions of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and King Lear, that need my complete focus over the next year and beyond."

With Skyfall freshly crossing the $1.1bn mark at the box office and still hoovering up plaudits - it dominates the nominations at this year's Jameson Empire Awards - the news will no doubt be a blow to producers Broccoli and Wilson. Then again, with a freshly reinvigorated franchise to oversee and actors of the calibre of Daniel Craig, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw and Ralph Fiennes to work with, there'll be no shortage of high-calibre applicants to pick from for Bond 24.

If his gifted direction of dramatic beats came as no surprise to movie-watchers, Mendes' adroit handling of Bond's action sequences wowed fans and elevated Skyfall to critical and commercial echelons previously never enjoyed by a Bond movie. For his part, the 47 year old director refuses to rule out the possibility of a Martin Campbell-like return to the franchise in years to come. "I feel very honoured to have been part of the Bond family", said Mendes, "and very much hope I have a chance to work with them again sometime in the future".
A response from Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli has just reached us, and it more than leaves the door open to a Mendes return. "We thoroughly enjoyed working with Sam, he directed our most successful Bond movie ever, Skyfall. We would have loved to have made the next film with him but completely respect his decision to focus on other projects and hope to have the opportunity to collaborate with him again."
So there you have it. It's a sad farewell - for now - from Mendes to Bond, and a big question about who will direct the next film. Share your thoughts below.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Moneypenny's Maldives: Bond's girl finds paradise as Naomie Harris hits the beach


Moneypenny's Maldives: Bond's girl finds paradise as Naomie Harris hits the beach 

By NAOMIE HARRIS

Filming work keeps me away from home so much that, to be honest, I don't really like going on holiday. When I get time off, I usually prefer to stay in London near to my family and friends.
But when my family decided to go to the Maldives, I found myself caught up in their excitement and agreed to go along. I wasn't sure what sort of time we would have but it ended up being one of the best things we've ever done together.
Naomie Harris
A well-earned break: Naomie soaks up the sunshine in the Maldives
Everybody was so relaxed while we were away. We all had such a laugh together away from the normal stresses and strains of everyday life.
We stayed at the Olhuveli Beach & Spa Resort. The journey involved a direct flight to the Maldivian capital Male and then a 50-minute boat ride to the resort.
Sometimes these connections can be complicated and time-consuming – but not this time. We got straight off the plane and on to the boat. It was all slickly organised and very impressive.
It's hard to convey just what an extraordinary feeling it is to get to the Maldives. You feel as if you've been plucked from grey old Britain and dropped in the middle of paradise.
Because of work commitments, I had to travel out later than my family – my mother, stepdad, brother, 15, and 12-year-old sister. The first impression was the hot sunshine and beauty of everything – but I was also overwhelmed by the level of service.
There were four people waiting for me to get off the plane and put me on the boat. When I got to the resort I found we had two villas on stilts over the sea. The villas were things of beauty in their own right. They were finely constructed with wooden floors – all very traditional and very spacious.
And the staff worked really hard, with lots of thoughtful touches. Every day, for example, someone would arrange flowers on the bed. Lovely.
Maldives
A piece of paradise: The Olhuveli resort is one of the Maldives' most picturesque hideaways
As a family, we had a marvellous time. They went to Thailand a few years ago and, at the last minute, I wasn't able to go. Holidays are always difficult for anybody in the acting profession – we have to take jobs when we can get them. When they got back, they went on and on about what a wonderful time they'd all had – I imagine they might have been trying to wind me up a little.
But it was a relief when they quickly decided that the Maldives had managed to eclipse Thailand.
'Better than Thailand!' You couldn't get better than that!
What made the holiday so special? The food was fantastic. What my dad liked was the fact that on the first day, we were assigned a table in the restaurant and that was our table for the duration of the stay. We had the same waiter who became 'our waiter' and he really took care of us and got to know all of our likes and dislikes. If you liked tea after your meal, he would remember that.
And on a warm night he would move the table outside so that we could eat under the stars by candlelight, the sea lapping away beneath our feet.
The Maldives is just so incredibly romantic. Another thing we loved about the restaurant was that every night they served a different cuisine: local Maldivian food one night, Italian the next, followed by Chinese. There was always a pasta bar and a choice of a hot-meat dish – lamb or chicken, for example – which is griddled in front of you. And there was always a salad bar.
The food was so varied with something for everyone. I particularly liked the huge spread on offer for breakfast with tons of fresh fruit and everything from rice pudding to wonderful sugary doughnuts (my brother is a big doughnut fan). My ideal breakfast is what many people would have for their lunch so this sort of choice was perfect for me. Many mornings I had chicken and vegetables.
Naomie Harris
All in the same boat: The holiday allowed Naomie to spend some time with her family
Because dinner in the evening is always a big set-piece meal, you might have expected lunch to be a light affair, but it wasn't. I usually tried to restrict myself to a salad but the buffet was vast and tempting. I have to say that I did my best not to pile on the pounds but my mum wasn't so careful: I think she was struggling to do up a couple of buttons by the end of the trip - she went on a diet as soon as she got home. Thank goodness I don’t have the problem of putting on weight like that – my brother and I have the same physique and we can eat whatever we like and not pile on the pounds.
When people heard we were going to the Maldives, some of them said: ‘Oh, there’s not much to do there, you know.’ But I think that’s one of the good things about going – you’re not under any obligation to head out to see the sights; there is no extensive itinerary packed with things you have to see or do. That sort of pressure on holiday can be quite stressful.
When you reach the island you quickly realise that there's not going to be very much going on at all. Therefore you can just completely relax and get into a different rhythm.
If you do want more excitement, there are different trips you can go on. We had fun on the banana boat ride, we went out on a catamaran and we did a dolphin excursion. We also had the chance to visit another island for what they called 'a culturally authentic experience'.
Maldives
Fine dining: The resort is no place for those sticking to a diet
I didn't buy the 'Oh, I'd get bored' thing before I went and I certainly didn't while I was there. I didn't take my iPad. I did have my mobile phone but I never switched it on. My brother had his laptop so I could check my emails from time to time to make sure I wasn't missing some amazing film role.
It's a paradise but with great wi-fi – I love that.
I wasn't there for the weekly resort party held for all the guests on a deserted beach illuminated by candlelight under a canopy of twinkling stars. My mother said it was like being in a movie it was so lovely – and everybody was dressed up and glamorous.
We would love to go back because we had such a good time. It appealed to all our family. It was particularly great for the children because they could be totally independent. The island is so small you felt sure they couldn't come to any harm. This gave them an independence that they don't get at home in London.
I've been travelling quite a lot recently. I went to Kenya to film The First Grader, the true story of an 84-year-old Kenyan villager and ex-Mau Mau freedom fighter who battled for his right to be able to go to school for the first time to get the education he had been denied as a child.
I was in Kenya for about six weeks, and I loved it. We lived in lodges on a nature reserve and got to know the local community. To prepare for the film I had to learn to teach a class of children. It was great to be able to immerse myself in the local culture.
Appearing in the National Theatre in Danny Boyle's production of Frankenstein, playing Elizabeth – the monster's fiancee – made me want to travel more around Europe. Mary Shelley wrote the novel Frankenstein during a tour she and her husband, the poet Percy Shelley, were taking down the Rhine to Switzerland.
Naomie Harris
Happy days: Naomie reflects on a perfect escape
I'm not sure yet how much travel will be involved in filming the new Bond film, Skyfall. There will certainly be some exotic locations – I've heard India being mentioned – but as Miss Moneypenny I'll probably get no further than Pinewood Studios.
I'm not planning to do an awful lot of travelling this year. I have a new flat so most of my time is taken up with builders and things like choosing curtain fabric.
But if we had the chance, we would return to the Maldives in a heartbeat.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2085302/Maldives-luxury-holidays-James-Bonds-new-Moneypenny-hits-beach.html#ixzz2LpAab1bj
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