It’s a beautiful irony that in the novel of The Book Thief, Rosa Hubermann never stops talking (or shouting…OR swearing) – and Emily Watson doesn’t have to say a thing. She becomes Rosa in the still moments, and in everything she doesn’t say. It was quite a thing to see.
As I said about Geoffrey Rush, one of the nicest things about Emily was that she treated both the material and me as if we were old friends. As an example, there was a moment on the set, on a morning she wasn’t working, when I hesitated, then found the nerve to ask…I said, “Emily, sorry, would it be terrible to ask for a photo together?”
There was just something completely genuine in the way she smiled and said, “Of course!” and it’s something I’ll treasure, not even for the photo itself, or the fact that I stood with Emily Watson on the steps of 33 Himmel Street. It was more the generosity of spirit, which she again left me with, on my last day in Berlin.
In the morning I thought I’d blown my chance to say thank you for taking the role of Rosa; there just hadn’t been time, and I’m a believer that it’s better not to force these things.
A few hours later, though, I did see her again, as she waited (as it becomes apparent actors have to do a lot of…) and I did take the chance to say it. This time it wasn’t far from where they were shooting the basement scenes, and I won’t write here what she said in reply. In the spirit of the gravity she brings to the heart and spirit of Rosa, some things are better left as they were.
But I’ll appreciate it always.