Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Deidre Chambers, What a... MYSTERY!!!

You guys have got to help me figure something out, or I am going to lose my damn fool head over it. So last night I went to a screening of the 1987 Merchant Ivory classic Maurice (which gets better every time I see it - it's just a lovely piece of film-making; Carol before Carol) for a Q&A with director James Ivory and cinematographer Pierre Lhomme (see a picture I took of them here). 

Anyway towards the end of the film there's a scene where Scudder (oh Scudder) goes to London to chase after Maurice (James Wilby) and end up wandering around a museum. While there Maurice bumps into an old teacher of his called Mr. Ducie (played by Simon Callow). Mr. Ducie is there with his family, and when we saw his wife (at least I assume it was his wife, but we'll get to that in a second) I had a fucking "EUREKA IN THE BATHTUB" moment.

I leaned over to my boyfriend and whispered (well I thought I was whispering but he told me later they could've probably heard me five blocks away) 'THAT'S DEIDRE CHAMBERS!!!"

What a coincidence!

For those of you unfortunate folks who have no idea what I'm talking about, Deidre Chambers (played by Gennie Nevinson) is a character -- excuse me, a beauty consultant -- in the 1994 masterpiece Muriel's Wedding, one of my top five favorite movies of all time and quite possibly the movie I have watched more than any other. Deidre is one of my favorite characters in a film rich with incredible creations - I know from Deidre Chambers!

The problem is the character of "Mrs. Ducie" isn't listed on the IMDb page for Maurice. And Maurice isn't listed on Gennie Nevinson's IMDb page either! The character of "Mrs. Ducie" is a character in EM Forster's book Maurice though, according to Goodreads, so I assume that that woman we see, even though not named, is indeed Mrs. Ducie. I checked the credits of Maurice...

... and they seem terribly incomplete; they only list a couple dozen actors over the opening credits, and of course, no Gennie Nevinson to be found. BUT I AM NOT WRONG! I know it in my bones that that has got to be Gennie; it's gotta be! And here's the thing -- Gennie seems to be almost exclusively an Australian actress; clicking around on her credits I was getting discouraged. But in 1987, the year Maurice came out, she did a UK Miniseries called Star Cops!

I couldn't find a picture of her in it, but this places her in the right place at the right time, at least! There's seven years between when Maurice was filmed and when Muriel's Wedding is filmed, and that looks about the right amount of aging between Mrs. Ducie and Deidre. Obviously their styling couldn't be more different, but I know deep in my bones the way this actress moves and I swear I'm right. So what do you guys think? Am I nuts or what?



ETA the above screenshot (click to embiggen) is from a Muriel's Wedding edition of "Where Are They Now?" on a Toni Collette website which MNPP reader Daniel, my forever hero, dug up, and as you can see it lists Maurice as one of Gennie's credits. I'm not sure of their sourcing but I assume they had one, but either way the mere (dare I say) coincidence of them mentioning Maurice and me being convinced that's her is enough to seal the deal from where I'm standing. HOORAY FOR CLOSURE!!!


triggerua said...

Muriel rotates between the number 1 and number 2 spot of my all time favorites and if I had noticed her in Maurice (a film I haven't seen in many years) I probably would be driven to madness trying to figure out where I had seen the actress before. Amazing discovery, JA. Gah, I love your blog!

Luke said...

There's very little information about Gennie Nevinson online including even where she was born which is weird. She's referred to as an Australian actress but most of her early roles up to an including the 1980s were in the UK including the series Minder which my grandfather used to watch back then.

Here is a commercial Gennie did two years after Maurice was released.

Based on how she looked in that commercial to the gif you have from Maurice, it definitely looks like the same woman. If she was indeed in Maurice, it's odd that she's not listed in the credits as you'd think she'd want to take credit for being in such a classic.

JA said...

Thanks for that commercial, Luke! They do look very similar at that moment in time.

I only clicked around Gennie's credits through the mid-80s, the few years before and after Maurice, so I missed that she did UK productions earlier in her career.

And how weird that there's no info on where she was born!


Brian said...

I double-checked the novel because I thought maybe the woman in the museum was a nanny and that was the problem? But no, it's Mr. Ducie's wife. So no help there.

Anonymous said...

Jason, go to this Toni Collette fansite. There you see the entry for Muriel's Wedding--in the middle of the page is "Where are They Now?":

Therein you will find by selecting page 16/20:

"A veteran actress in Autralian film and television, Nevinson was featured in Z Cars, South Riding, Emergency Ward 10, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Zeferelli's The Life of Christ and Maurice among others. She also has had featured roles in Star Cops and The Bill. Gevinson is also a voice-over artist for commercials, animation characters and a narrator of series television programs such as the BBC's Panorama."

Ever your fan and librarian,


JA said...


Thank you, Daniel!!! I am going to update the post with that. My heart is free!

And thank you Brian for actually going and digging out the novel too!

I ♥♥♥♥ you guys :)

Anonymous said...

If any doubts still nag, she does have a Facebook page too and you can ask her:

Anonymous said...

This is the second picture of Deirdre Chambers I've seen today after years of not seeing her. WHAT A COINCIDENCE!