The fully restored house of Maud Lewis is on permanent display in Halifax at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. The decorated house was saved from deterioration by a group of concerned local citizens, that went through a 25 year-long struggle to maintain the house.
Was filmed in six weeks in autumn 2015, then returning at the end of January 2016 for the winter shoot.
This is the first biographical film about artist Maud Lewis. However, a previous project was in development, with Rachel McAdams to play the lead role, which eventually fell apart.
Maud Lewis also is the subject of the book "The Illuminated Life of Maud Lewis" and the stage play "A Happy Heart: The Maud Lewis Story".
The choice of director Aisling Walsh drew funding from Irish supporters, Parallel Films, despite the all-Canadian setting.
Reunites actress Sally Hawkins and director Aisling Walsh who previously collaborated on Fingersmith (2005). Walsh reached out to Hawkins who agreed to play the lead character, Maud.
This marks Sally Hawkins' first leading role in a feature film since Made in Dagenham (2010), the first theatrical movie she has filmed after her first Oscar nomination, and only her seventh leading role in a film throughout her career (including TV movies and the short The Phone Call (2013)).
Sally Hawkins' name was the first one director Aisling Walsh wrote down to play the lead role. She says of Hawkins, "Sally can transform herself utterly when she takes on a role. She becomes it. That has been one of the most incredible things about this project."
Sally Hawkins had to do stretching and yoga in the evening in order to physically and mentally get out of the character of Maud Lewis.
During rehearsals, Sally Hawkins was painting three to four hours a day and had a dance teacher, a body movement person, who helped her study juvenile arthritis. She also had to practice her scenes without Ethan Hawke, who showed up on set a week before filming began, because of scheduling conflicts with The Magnificent Seven (2016).
Ethan Hawke, said it was a privilege to co-star opposite Sally Hawkins; "I've had a few times in my life where you feel it's a privilege to be in the room, because you're the first person to see the performance. I felt that with Denzel Washington in Training Day (2001). If you love acting and love what you do it's amazing and I felt that way with Sally, she's funny and brilliant."
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