James Cromwell Q&A

In Still Mine, the L.A.-based actor plays Craig Morrison, an 89-year-old New Brunswicker who builds a house for his ailing wife, Irene (played by Geneviève Bujold). Desperate to move her out of the burdensome home they occupy, he battles the provincial government over everything from building plans to the wood he uses. Based on a true story, the touching Canadian movie about love and aging is in select theatres now.

What was the appeal of this role?

The relationship between the two characters. I got to see a relationship that I’ve never been able to replicate, so I admire it. And I really liked the politics. I believe in what Craig stands for and his predicament is one that resonates with me.

What was it like playing a Canadian?

Craig is a lot less contrary than if he had been an American. If he had been an American, he probably would have turned to violence, because our propensity is always violence. As a Canadian, although he resists, his thing is to very quietly continue building. He doesn’t take a hammer out and whack the guy, he just continues building and this is one of the things I love about him.

How was filming in New Brunswick?

Once I got there I realized Craig’s attachment to that place. The rhythm is unique, the vista is unique, and I imagine if I knew more about the people, I’d find them unique too.

How did you prepare for your nude scene?

My best friends would say that I take my clothes off at the drop of a hat. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with the human body. I’ve learned to accept it even as it gets older and seems a whole lot less attractive than it used to. Initially, Geneviève was timid about it, but then she came around and did it with such gusto. I thought it was great.

Aging is a major theme in this picture. Did it make you feel differently about your own mortality?

I remember my late twenties. I thought this day would never come and it sneaks up on you. Death starts very slowly and you get these little twinges. “Oh geez! I’m 73. Holy mackerel. I haven’t got that much time.” You start to learn the lessons that aging can bring. I am attempting to grow up and grow old gracefully.