The much-anticipated HBO Original Miniseries, MILDRED PIERCE, starring Academy Award® winner Kate Winslet in the title role, will premiere in Asia on Thursday, June 9, with a special 2-hour premiere starting 9pm on HBO / HBO HD.
This five-part drama brings to life the memorable character introduced in James M. Cain’s classic 1941 novel of the same name, and offers an intimate portrait of a uniquely independent woman who finds herself newly divorced during the Depression, as she struggles to carve out a new life for herself and her family. The story explores Mildred’s unreasonable devotion to her insatiable daughter, Veda (Evan Rachel Wood), and the complex relationships she shares with the indolent men in her life including her polo-playing lover Monty Beragon (Guy Pearce) and ex-husband Bert Pierce.
Led by Kate Winslet (The Reader, Revolutionary Road), the cast of MILDRED PIERCE includes Guy Pearce (The King’s Speech, The Hurt Locker), Evan Rachel Wood (HBO’s True Blood, The Wrestler), James LeGros (Zodiac, Enemy of the State), Melissa Leo (The Fighter, Frozen River), and Brían F. O’Byrne (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Million Dollar Baby), and co-stars Mare Winningham (Made in Heaven, George Wallace), Morgan Turner (who plays the young Veda) and Hope Davis (About Schmidt, American Splendor).
The story of Mildred Pierce resonates as strongly today as it did when the book was first published. Left to fend for herself and her two young children when her husband Bert goes off with another woman, Mildred swallows her fierce pride, and the scorn of her eldest daughter Veda, to take a job as a waitress. With a talent for baking pies and a tremendous work ethic, Mildred sets her sights on becoming a restaurateur in her own right. Along the way, she finds love with a charming, wealthy idler named Monty Beragon, only to endure a heartbreaking personal tragedy.
Later, Mildred encourages Veda to pursue her dream of success and social standing, but her daughter’s practiced airs elicit a stormy love-hate relationship between mother and daughter. The rivalry becomes entangled with a threat to Mildred’s business, and culminates in a shocking act of betrayal. But through years and tears, Mildred finds the strength to carry on.
MILDRED PIERCE is directed by Todd Haynes (Oscar®-nominated for his screenplay Far from Heaven) who felt the world outside seemed to mirror Mildred’s plight as the financial markets suddenly tumbled, impacting political and cultural sectors globally. As such, the timing convinced Haynes that Mildred’s story would resonate with today’s viewers.
“MILDRED PIERCE is set during the Depression, but not the Depression of dustbowls and breadlines,” explains Haynes. “The crises it explores are those of middleclass privilege – issues of pride and status, the struggle first to regain one’s standing and then to persevere through hard work and ingenuity. This feels very much like the particular struggles of our current economic crisis, coming out of a period of unbridled consumption.”
In its time, the novel Mildred Pierce, which was of pride and privilege in the middle class, was considered a departure for acclaimed author Cain, whose previous ‘30s works such as The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity were hard-boiled, first-person crime dramas that became fodder for the film noir genre of the ‘40s. Containing no murder or other criminal storyline, Mildred Pierce was unique in its depiction of ambitious and successful women in the work world, and bold in its sexual honesty and detail.
“Most domestic dramas inevitably concern female characters confronting social constraints, suburban repression and vulnerability. Mildred Pierce is an exception,” explains Haynes.
Haynes found himself more attracted to the unique relationship between mother and daughter spelled out so vividly in the novel, as well as the complexity of both characters. What especially captured Haynes was the unique place Veda occupies in Mildred’s life, which to him seemed almost more akin to a tragic story of unrequited love. “Where men and love objects should reside in Mildred’s life, her daughter, Veda, exists. Mildred’s whole relationship with men is completely unique and atypical of her time,” he notes.
Mirroring the novel’s emphasis on the women in the story, Haynes and co-writer Jon Raymond chose to highlight the strength and ambition of Mildred and her daughter, showing them as active, productive and powerful forces of nature. Explains Haynes, “Emotional dynamics are still the central conflict, but they get externalized and played out through work and productivity, and issues of money and class come into play in almost every relationship in the story.”
The highly anticipated five-part HBO Original Miniseries MILDRED PIERCE premieres in Asia on Thursday, June 9, with a special 2-hour premiere starting 9pm on HBO / HBO HD.