The story of her husband Eric Lomax, a former British P.O.W, is now a feature film, “The Railway Man.”
SD: As humans, we often want to seek revenge instead of forgiveness. How did Eric find forgiveness?
PL: It’s amazing what happens when two ordinary people sit down and talk. When they understand the other’s pain, it is astounding what can happen. Revenge is a deeply useless concept. It doesn’t do anyone good. Eric’s ability to find forgiveness came when he removed all the elements that were leaving him so bitter. Eric would often say “Anger and hate doesn’t hurt anyone except the person who is doing the hating.” It was a slow process, not as immediate as it seems in the film.
SD: How were you able to support Eric through the process of forgiveness and moving on?
PL: Although, this is Eric’s story, I did have some influence (she says with a chuckle). It’s really a love story. Not to sound too trite, but when you can give someone that deep support, then perhaps it gives them the strength they need to find the answers that they need to go on. I just loved him and stayed by his side even in the bad times. He also received help from the “Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.” Plus, it was a very healing process for him when he started telling his story.
SD: Did Nicole Kidman come to you for advice?
PL: Nicole is a consummate professional; I would never have dreamed of giving her advice. She did a lot of research and we met a few times. I think she got to know me pretty well. I am very pleased with her performance.
SD: To ensure historical accuracy, were there any concerns that the story may be changed with a Hollywood spin?
PL: When the book came out, we did have three offers from filmmakers. Our agent knew there was a possibility with these three that there was a chance for a Hollywood spin, so we did not entertain them at all. The only way to tell the story was to be completely true to the book and at this time the story was still unfolding. We read the script to make sure it captured the emotional experiences that Eric went through.
SD: What were Eric’s thoughts on the movie?
PL: The book was not written deliberately, it evolved. The medical foundation likes for their clients to write down their stories because it was easier for the survivors to do then to speak about it. Eric surprised us all by saying he had already done it. He wrote it as a survivor statement. He started writing it as soon as the Japanese surrendered. Eric kept it hidden in a drawer for over 50 years. The medical foundation read it and said it was far too important and should be made public; that is how the book really evolved. Initially, he was surprised that the book became so successful. He hoped that the film would take his message further. Eric did not want to watch the film because he was afraid it would bring back too many horrible memories. He did visit the set once and said it was the greatest day in his life.
The Railway Man opens in theatres on April 11th.