|Chaplin demonstrates a scene for Nash.|
In past installments of this series I included all different points of view on what it was like to work with Chaplin based around a theme, but this time I'm going to focus on just one person and one anecdote.
In Chaplin's 1947 film, Monsieur Verdoux, Nash played the prostitute that Verdoux picks up on a rainy night in order to test a new untraceable poison. Her character's name was "Renée," although we never hear it onscreen and she is only referred to as "The Girl" in the credits. In a 1997 interview with Jeffrey Vance, Nash recounted how Chaplin described her character & the scene to her and then showed her exactly how he wanted her to play it:
He described my character to me very strictly as a girl, a waif in trouble. And that's all he explained to me. It was strictly how I would do this this scene, and there wasn't much dialogue at that time because he hadn't really finished that scene. But he wanted to see what he could get out of me if he just explained what he wanted--like when he's going to kill her--that was the first scene he did with me, the scene with the wine: "You come in, and you stole a typewriter and were put in jail and now you've come here, and I've taken you off the street and I'm going to serve you some wine. And you have a little kitten you picked up off the street. And you haven't eaten and I'm going to serve you food. Now, this is what we're going to do, this is what you're going to say, this is what I'm going to say, and dada-dada-dada-dada" Then he would say, "but I don't want you to do your finger that way, I want it crooked just like that." In other words my finger was out like that, but no. It's not that way, it's this way. Every little teeny, tiny thing he wanted perfection. And maybe that's why he wanted somebody green, so he could mold them without having somebody that's a pro try to mold it his way and then throw in his own personality.
--Limelight magazine, Spring, 1997