Casting Director: Belinda Norcliffe
I whizz out to Zurich courtesy of Swiss Tourism and after a lengthy trip southwards in a minibus (and at one point on a train under a mountain) we arrive at a hotel in Sion. Over supper, I discover from producer Joe Berger that I was only given the part because I mentioned in the casting that I had buried my mother two weeks ago – which is true, but what of it? “I soon as you said that, I said ‘I want him!’”
Day 1, the entire cast is deposited on a frozen lake high in the Alps. In my role as sporty Opa (Grandpa) it is unfortunate that I am given (and don’t notice I am playing with) a wrong-handed mallet, pole, club, stick or whatever it’s called. To the strains of a string quartet I give my allin a triumph of on-ice enthusiasm and competitiveness. “Don’t over-act, Tim” pleads the director. After a picnic in the snow we descend to the valley once more only to zigzag up again to another village for bracing views, mountain air and luncheon. In a delightful chalet, I am then filmed expertly supervising the waxing of the underside of a ski as a jazz band strikes up outside.
Day 2, we ascend through glorious scenery and sit in the sunshine watching our musicians (now a rock band) being inadvertently stolen away by an over-enthusiastic helicopter pilot before it is time for the next meal. As darkness falls, the crew lay out sofas, lamps, carpets and snowmen and we boogie about a blazing brazier late into the evening – my family and I nibbling to order on charcoaled sausages until they have enough footage in the can. All this in the company of our band of young musicians and skiers – and my “Oma” for the week, Daryl Webster, she who, proving once again that I have not worn well, takes me for seventy.
The ski-waxing scene is cut in the final edit, but the experience of filming in deep snow in fake moonlight and a bonfire is unforgettable. And I came away with a Columbia puffer jacket which is the envy of all who behold it.