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Women Talking: Claire Foy opens up about going makeup-free in new movie (exclusive)

The cast of Sarah Polley's Oscar-nominated movie share their experiences on the film's austere set

Watch: The cast of Women Talking share their experiences of the film's austere shoot

Claire Foy, who stars in the Oscar-nominated Women Talking (in select UK cinemas from Friday), has opened up about the everyday things she, and the rest of the cast, had to give up when the film was being made.

Set in a remote and isolated Mennonite colony in Bolivia, the film explores the aftermath of a series of horrific crimes in which the women of the Amish-like have systematically abused by the men of their community.

Read more: Actors who've played the Queen pay tribute

Director Sarah Polley wanted to reflect the austerity of the location where the story is set, so the actors were kept make-up free. Even natural looking make-up wasn’t allowed. That wasn’t all. As Foy revealed, “shaving our legs, plucking our eyebrows” were out of the question.

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(l-r.) Emily Mitchell stars as Miep, Claire Foy as Salome and Rooney Mara as Ona
 in director Sarah Polley’s film
WOMEN TALKING
An Orion Pictures Release
Photo credit: Michael Gibson
© 2022 Orion Releasing LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Emily Mitchell stars as Miep, Claire Foy as Salome and Rooney Mara as Ona in Women Talking. (Orion Releasing)

But the actor, best known for her Emmy-winning performance as Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix's The Crown, viewed it as all part of the job.

“That’s acting, isn’t it? You have to imagine that they have no electricity, that they’ve never learnt to read and write. There’s an intellectual leap you have to make.”

She also admitted that it would have been a deal-breaker if she’s been asked to give up anything food-related: “It’s the only thing that gets me through the day.”

Co-star Jessie Buckley felt much the same, particularly if she’d been asked to forego coffee.

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Jessie Buckley stars as Mariche and Judith Ivey as Agata in director Sarah Polley’s film
WOMEN TALKING
An Orion Pictures Release
Photo credit: Michael Gibson
© 2022 Orion Releasing LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Jessie Buckley stars as Mariche and Judith Ivey as Agata in Women Talking. (Orion Releasing)

“Especially in the morning. I wouldn’t get up at 3 o’clock without it!” And Ben Whishaw owned up that he would have “felt annoyed” if a glass of wine at the end of the day had been ruled out.

However, he added “I think we all understood what this film was about and we understood what it was going to demand of us.”

Read more: Claire Foy disputes The Crown pay gap story

The Oscar-nominated film arrives in the UK on Friday and is based on the book of the same name by Miriam Toews, inspired by true events in Bolivia. Between 2005 and 2009, women in the Mennonite religious community were drugged and raped at night by nine men from the colony.

Watch a trailer for Women Talking

Both the book and the film imagine events after the men are found guilty of their crimes. The survivors come together to decide on their response to the verdict. They face three stark options: do nothing, forgive the men or leave their homes forever.

Foy recalled how shooting the majority of scenes on a huge sound stage helped with creating the sense of community on screen. “We were removed from everything for the majority of the time – it was COVID as well. So it was a very isolated, odd experience, which I think fed into it.”

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(ctr l-r.) Director Sarah Polley and Cinematographer Luc Montpellier on the set of their film
WOMEN TALKING
An Orion Pictures Release
Photo credit: Michael Gibson
© 2022 Orion Releasing LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Director Sarah Polley and Cinematographer Luc Montpellier on the set of Women Talking. (Orion Releasing)

And Polley explained how the cast spent a lot of time away from the set. “There was this big Green Room, where everybody was together, like a theatre company. It was a whole world in that room. Sometimes I felt a bit bad about keeping them in pretty austere circumstances a lot of the time, but it was really good in terms of building that community.”

Read more: How to watch the Oscar-nominated movies in the UK

Women Talking has been nominated for two Oscars – Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for Sarah Polley. She was also nominated in the same category for her directorial debut, Away From Her, in 2008.

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(l-r.) Ben Whishaw stars as August, Rooney Mara as Ona and Claire Foy as Salome
in director Sarah Polley’s film
WOMEN TALKING
An Orion Pictures Release
Photo credit: Michael Gibson
© 2022 Orion Releasing LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Ben Whishaw stars as August, Rooney Mara as Ona and Claire Foy as Salome in Women Talking. (Orion Releasing)

Jessie Buckley, an Oscar-nominee last year for The Lost Daughter, will next be in cinemas in Wicked Little Letters, which re-unites her with Olivia Colman. Best known to everybody as the voice of Paddington Bear, Ben Whishaw’s latest film, Passages, recently premiered to acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival.

The film’s impressive ensemble cast also includes Rooney Mara, triple acting Oscar winner Frances McDormand, Sheila McCarthy, August Winter and Judith Ivey.

Women Talking is released in selected cinemas on 10 February and around the UK on 17 February. Watch a trailer below.