After a distinguished career as a stage director, Stephen Daldry debuted as a film director with Billy Elliot; after that film's rave reviews and warm reception, his follow-up was The Hours, an ambitious adaptation of Michael Cunningham's novel that earned Daldry an Oscar nomination for Best Director. Daldry's new film The Reader, adapted from the German novel by Bernhard Schlink, tells the story of Michael Berg (Ralph Fiennes), a lawyer who looks back at his youth (with David Kross playing the young Berg) and his fierce sexual affair with a much older woman, Hanna (Kate Winslet) in post-war Germany and the secrets and truths that come to light years after their affair ends.
Speaking with Cinematical in Los Angeles, Daldry talked about nudity, morality and the perils of adaptation: "We didn't want to make a film that reminded us of Bernhard Schlink's The Reader; we wanted to make a film based on Bernhard Schlink's The Reader. ..."
Cinematical: What was the prime source of appeal for you in adapting The Reader?
Stephen Daldry: The subject. I spent a lot of time, as a schoolboy, in Germany, learning German; as an adult, I spent a lot of time in Berlin when I was running the Royal Court Theater, working with a theater in Berlin. So it's a country that I know well, that for all its contradictions and shadows, always fascinates me. And Berlin has always seemed to be on the fault line of the 20th Century. And how that country has always, from generation to generation, and continues to -- (had) to struggle with the fact that they invented Auschwitz ...it's not just interesting, it's also important.