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Ever After autuer

By Ray Pride

AUGUST 3, 1998:  "Ever After" is a charming revisionist telling of the Cinderella fairy tale, not least because of Drew Barrymore's sweet, tentative Danielle, who finds her voice in opposing wicked stepmother Anjelica Huston and her stepsisters, one gorgeous and evil, the other more plain but good-hearted.

Romping across parts of France seldom shown on screen, the story even manages to take in Leonardo da Vinci as a kind of fairy godfather to Danielle, in a story notably free of magic (other than a woman's burgeoning self-determination in the sixteenth century).

Director/co-writer Andy Tennant's past credits include being a dancer in the chorus of the movie of "Grease" and directing the Olsen twins in "It Takes Two." With "Ever After," he does a journeyman's job of holding together different acting styles and a mix of comedy and pathos. "This was the toughest thing I've ever done in my life," the native of suburban Chicago says. "We were on a very distant location from a studio that was having a very difficult summer. We bit more off than we could chew. I wanted to do David Lean, y'know... [But] this was a small, sweet movie [to them]. So this was a struggle, through every day, trying to get more on film than was really thought possible. The royal wedding with 300 extras and something like forty-seven shots in one day, we shouldn't have got that. But we did. And that day was the worst day of my entire life."

First, his pregnant wife had just flown home and learned there were complications with the baby. Their other daughter went to the hospital with croup, and his father was in the hospital for congestive heart failure. But everyone ended up fine. "In one day, my whole life [could have changed], and I was in a church that day!" Tennant says. "God bless Anjelica Huston. She took care of me. I collapsed into her arms, I was sobbing. She lit candles in church, told me, 'Everyone's praying for you.' This all happened before lunch! It was one of those amazing days where everyone [on set] said, 'Let's just get out of here!' But every time I see that scene..." He can only shake his head.


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