“Playing Eveline McCord-Adams made a big impact on me and she is the reason I am a film actress today. I really look forward to a chance to get to play a role like this again. To play a character I am really proud of.” Gwendolyn Edwards tells Eclipse Magazine via a phone interview with the leading lady of the hit Indie film The Last Confederate, which is being released on DVD today after having a very strong showing on the festival circuit taking top honors including Best Actress nominations for Gwendolyn Edwards at the Los Angeles Indie Film Awards. Gwendolyn Edwards, who is making her debut in her first ever screen role is an up and coming new star with the grace and ethereal beauty the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Meryl Streep. Like those Hollywood leading ladies, Edwards also has a strong presence and charisma that literally leaps off the screen in her role as Eveline in The Last Confederate. Eclipse Magazine had the opportunity to talk to Gwendolyn Edwards about this role and about being a part of something so steeped in history and drama.
“It’s a true story of actual events that being told by the descendents of the people the story is about,” Gwendolyn Edwards tells us about the movie. The Last Confederate is the true story of Robert Adams a Southern Plantation owner who becomes a Captain in the Confederate Army during the Civil War and his love for Eveline McCord, a school teacher from the North who is kind, caring and strong willed. Eclipse Magazine asked Gwendolyn how playing this role based on a real person during real events of the American Civil War affected her.
“It had a huge effect on my coming into the role and what it was like to play someone who actually existed,” Gwendolyn Edwards explains why being a part of this film and playing this role is something she is proud of.
“Once I started doing research into Eveline as a real person I began to feel this responsibility to get it right and to show her in the best light I could.”
Gwendolyn Edwards tell us that she really enjoyed being able to do so much research into the history of this amazing woman she was portraying on screen in The Last Confederate.
“I had a wealth of information at my fingertips as far as research on Eveline Adams and that’s really kind of a playground for an actor to work in because I had access to things she had written, music she had composed and photographs of her. I got talk to her descendents and to visit her grave,” Edwards says she feels like this really helped her as an actor to understand the character and to bring things out on screen that made Eveline who she was. “Playing this character became very dear to me and I felt the same passion this family felt about telling her story all of which really touched me and motivated me as an actor to do the best I could with it.”
Taking On a Larger Role
Gwendolyn Edwards tell Eclipse Magazine that when she was first cast in The Last Confederate, her character of Eveline was actually a very small portion of the movie which was originally intended to be a buddy picture about two men in the Confederate army’s last days of the civil war. “They originally didn’t even mention that she was from the North and then that became one of the biggest driving points of the movie.” Edwards says that there were several factors involved in creating this change of direction and the expanding of her character’s role from a background one to that of an important lead role in The Last Confederate.
“When the writers, director and producers starting exploring Eveline’s role in the history of the story along with me, they realized that there was this huge story that needed to be told about this character and her place in Robert Adam’s life and in the history of story being told in The Last Confederate.”
Another factor that Gwendolyn Edwards contributes to the expanding of her role is something that she says is her favorite part about working on this film which was the working chemistry she found with the other actors, particularly with Julian Adams who was playing the lead character of his great-great grandfather Robert Adams who was Eveline’s love interest.
“That chemistry was really interesting for me to see because in stage work you have to stick to the page and everyone has to know the play and there isn’t a lot of breaking off and doing your own thing. But in the film we weren’t required to stick to the page and as we began rehearsing and actors filled the roles we began discovering chemistry,” Edwards tells us.
Gwendolyn Edwards explains that when this working chemistry began to happen among the actors it began to have an effect on the direction of the movie. “My work with Julian was all very intense and it was interesting to see how that kind of working chemistry between actors can change a script. The Last Confederate started out basically as a grassroots project to tell this story about the American Civil War and the budget was very small. But things change, the story changed in focus and the budget began to get a little bigger and suddenly it became a love story and my character became one of the leads in the movie.”
Gwendolyn Edwards says that while The Last Confederate is a war movie, it’s difficult to make a war movie on an Indie film budget so the fact that Eveline was from the North and Robert from the South and finding themselves at odds with the ideals of the war and yet falling in love with each other became sort of an allegory for the conflict of the Civil War raging around them. “Making it a love story that had elements to it that were set against this war going on round these two people’s lives made it much easier to film budget wise. Which in turn made it fortunate for me in having a chance to explore my character more fully than originally intended.”
The Last Confederate is Gwendolyn Edward’s first film role. Up to this point she had only ever done stage acting work. Edwards tell Eclipse Magazine that this was completely different than anything she had experience. “On stage you are always interacting with someone. For me the biggest ‘ah ha’ in working in films is a lot of times you are acting by yourself. There is a scene I am doing with Mickey Rooney and I’m really pouring my heart out to him when you watch it. When we were actually filming that scene I was staring into a blue smiley-faced sticker on a pillow,” Edwards says with a laugh.
Gwendolyn Edwards tells us that her more personal revelation on the difference between working on a film verse working on stage is that she had never realized her acting style was more suited to film. “I’m much more of subtle actor and in film I suddenly felt like I had a lot more tools as an actor that I could use because the camera is right there with you and picking up on all the nuances of your body language and facial expressions.”
Besides having Julian Adams who is a direct descendent of the lead character of Robert Adams, the cast of The Last Confederate also boasts the inclusion of two top names in Hollywood film history: Mickey Rooney and Tippi Hedren.
Mickey Rooney plays Eveline’s ailing grandfather, David McCord and Gwendolyn Edwards tell us that her heart to heart scene with Mickey Rooney during a climatic scene in The Last Confederate was actually the first scene she filmed in the movie. “Mickey was there for the master shots for this scene and he knew I was brand new at this and he was great to work with, very complimentary and supportive of me,” Edwards says speaking fondly of working with this legendary actor.
Grand Hollywood beauty Tippi Hedren has a brief role in The Last Confederate playing Eveline McCord-Adams as an older woman. Gwendolyn Edwards tells us this meant that she didn’t get do any actual scenes with Hedren but did get to work with her in other ways that she found to be a fascinating learning experience.
“What was interesting for me was because we were playing the same character at two different stages in her life and that meant we had to spend time together so that all the mannerisms for the character would match,” Edwards says of the experience. “It was great to have Tippi Hedren walking around trying to do things like I do and it was interesting to watch her work and to see her do this with uncanny accuracy. We also have the same measurement and everything even down to height. So she wore my wardrobe which made it even more realistic for her to be my character in a different stage of her life.”
Horses, Hammers and Weather Extremes
The Last Confederate was shot on location in Columbia South Caroline and the weather with its extremes of very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter proved to be a challenge in filming this movie according to Gwendolyn Edwards.
“Literally there was one scene we shot where they were burning the city of Columbia down and we filmed the first half of it in the dead of winter when it was eighteen degrees. The camera froze and I had this sheer dress on and I was freezing.” Edwards then explains that for some reason, the other half of the scene wasn’t filmed until summer and everyone was sweltering in the heat. “My most common direction was don’t sweat,” she says laughing about this.
Working on an independent film also meant taking on some duties outside of acting such as helping with the building of sets. “For that City of Columbia set all of us, cast and crew pitched in to build it. I had a hammer and nails and we all worked as a team to get it done,” Gwendolyn Edwards proudly tells Eclipse Magazine revealing just how dedicated she was to making this film happen.
Gwendolyn Edwards tells us she also did all of her own horseback riding stunts in the movie and really enjoyed the chance to do that having grown up with horses and riding. “Having my cape billowing out behind me as I rode this galloping horse across this field was very exciting and made the connection to the movie and the character all the more real for me.”
Another aspect in which Gwendolyn Edwards shared her talents with the audience for The Last Confederate is her musical abilities. Edwards wrote and performed a song titled ‘A Candle In the Window’, which won Best Song in a Movie Soundtrack award at the L.A. Music Awards. “Gwendolyn Edwards tells Eclipse Magazine that she was just so deeply inspired by the depth of emotional and spiritual passion that ran so deeply between Eveline McCord-Adams and Robert Adams creating a loving relationship that survived hardship, war and separation.
With The Last Confederate coming out on DVD today, being released by THINKfilms, Gwendolyn Edwards says that she has another period piece project coming up. She says she grew up loving these kinds of movies and is very attracted to playing characters in them. The project will be filming over in Europe and she is looking forward to the experience of filming in such an exotic location. After that she is looking to be playing a role in something a bit lighter in nature, a comedy where she plays a Cheerleader.
Check out Gwendolyn Edwards official website for more information on this up and coming beautiful and talented young actress. To learn more about The Last Confederate, check out the movie’s official website.
Ariticle Copyright2007 to M R Reed
Photos Copyright2007 to Strongbow Pictures/THINKFilms.