“It was a case of art and life merging,” Patricia Clarkson says about her role in Ruba Nadda’s Cairo Time, which finds the Oscar nominated actress playing a Canadian magazine editor stranded in the Egyptian capital while her husband is off working for the UN.
“I had never been (to Cairo), so I felt like I was going through the same acclimatization process as (my character) Juliette,” says Clarkson during an interview at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, where Cairo Time won the Best Canadian Feature prize.
“So even though I was existing inside a person who was very different than I am, I felt like I understood exactly how she was feeling in that city, which has a tone and tempo unlike any in the world.”
As one of the busiest American actresses of the past decade, Clarkson knows plenty about tempo, and says that her crowded CV — four films in 2009, with two more, including Martin Scorcese’s Shutter Island, slated for 2010 — is actually a little bit deceptive.
“People think I’m always working, but it’s all in chunks. It never rains in my work life, but it does pour. I’ll shoot three movies back to back — I did Cairo Time after working with Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese — and then I was lying in bed for six months after that.”
When asked if she thought that Nadda was intimidated by the calibre of her recent collaborators, Clarkson shakes her head.
“Great directors — and I think that Ruba is a great director — are all very similar,” she says. “They may come at in a different way, but the end result is the same.”
• Cairo Times opens in Toronto next week.