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Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' director John Madden on filming in India

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, directed by John Madden, dunks seven veteran British actors — Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Maggie Smith, Ronald Pickup, and Celia Imrie — into the hot, steamy inner sanctum of India, playing retirees who take up residence at an old hotel more dilapidated than originally advertised. Madden tells EW about the experience filming in and outside the Indian cities of Jaipur and Udaipur, from the heat on set to the difficulty of getting sound and the right shots as crowds flocked around the cast and crew.

For more stories behind this year’s top TV and movie moments, click here for’s Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes) coverageREAD FULL STORY

Prize Fighter: Oscar buzz for older actresses Field, Mirren, Dench reflect importance of female storytelling

Hollywood may be filled with talented younger actresses, their fresh skin and high cheekbones readymade for lovingly placed close-ups and leggy magazine covers. But this year’s early Oscar race for best actress has the spotlight shining on a handful of older contenders — from Sally Field in Lincoln to Helen Mirren in Hitchcock and Judi Dench in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel — their veteran faces etched with experience, beauty, and perhaps a bit of wisdom.

“Older actors, especially women actors, have always been incredibly important to storytelling on the big screen,” Elizabeth Daley, dean of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, told EW. “The characters they play are often what ground the story, and these actors are so good at what they do that their performances also elevate the films. So I would argue that every year there are films that feature good or great performances by older women. And years like this one, when many of them are being considered for awards, force us to publicly acknowledge their importance in compelling storytelling.”


'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel': Director John Madden on that amazing cast, and filming in the 'chaos' of India -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

This Friday, American movie theaters will be blessed by two ensemble movies boasting a dream cast of top-tier actors in their field. It’s fair to say that the vast majority of audiences will only see one of them: The superhero opus The Avengers.

But some lucky, adventurous moviegoers will treat themselves to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which has arguably assembled the most accomplished company of British acting talent since the final Harry Potter movie: Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton (Downton Abbey), and Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire), as well as two actors just as adept, if likely unfamiliar, to most Americans, Celia Imrie (Bridget Jones’s Diary) and Ronald Pickup (Prince of Persia: Sands of Time).

The film follows a group of new retirees who for various reasons throw caution to the wind and travel to an Indian retirement hotel (run by Patel’s character) that they found on the Internet. “We’re blessed with a pretty decent pool of actors in that age range in the U.K.,” director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) tells EW with a chuckle. “It was a beautiful piece to cast.” And with a cast like this, Madden was determined to play to everyone’s strengths.  READ FULL STORY

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