Rita TushinghamEven though she knew she was working with acclaimed director David Lean and acting opposite the revered Sir Alec Guinness, Rita Tushingham probably no had idea that the three weeks she spent shooting scenes for the supporting role of The Girl in the epic, Oscar-winning 'Doctor Zhivago' would make her a permanent part of film history.

Forty five years later, the film has received a brilliant new restoration from Warner Bros. -- it was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival last weekend and released this week on Blu-ray and DVD -- and these days, people consider it to be one of the greatest films ever made.

While in town to promote the film's sparkling reissue, Tushingham sat down to chat with Moviefone about the film, working with Lean and Guinness, being friends with The Beatles back in the day and her fight to raise awareness for breast cancer. Here's what she had to say. Rita TushinghamEven though she knew she was working with acclaimed director David Lean and acting opposite the revered Sir Alec Guinness, Rita Tushingham probably no had idea that the three weeks she spent shooting scenes for the supporting role of The Girl in the epic, Oscar-winning 'Doctor Zhivago' would make her a permanent part of film history.

Forty five years later, the film has received a brilliant new restoration from Warner Bros. -- it was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival last weekend and released this week on Blu-ray and DVD -- and these days, people consider it to be one of the greatest films ever made.

While in town to promote the film's sparkling reissue, Tushingham sat down to chat with Moviefone about the film, working with Lean and Guinness, being friends with The Beatles back in the day and her fight to raise awareness for breast cancer. Here's what she had to say.

How did you feel when you first found out that you were going to do 'Doctor Zhivago'?

I thought, "That will be nice," of course, to work with David Lean, and I knew some of the cast. But my scenes were with Sir Alec Guinness, and that was just a treat. I found out when I was shooting 'The Knack ... and How to Get It' with Richard Lester. One of the evening crew came in with the evening newspaper and said, "Here you are, you're going to do David Lean's next film." I said, "Am I?" That's literally how I found out. I didn't meet David Lean until I went to Spain where they were shooting.

What was it like to play opposite Sir Alec Guinness?
He was so easy to work with, and he also had a wicked sense of humor. We had great fun. We spent a lot of the time together, and when we weren't shooting we would take walks. We were out of Madrid, where they had been shooting a lot, and on the Spanish-Portuguese border.

What changes have you seen in terms of productions and production techniques between the '60s and now?

Now, of course, the cameras are much smaller and the lighting is less. There's less money, and they're always in a panic to get it done -- unless they have a big budget, but it is different now. To get a film made, people will often do it on a small budget. It's amazing how a film can be made for such a small amount of money and also be a success. It doesn't have to have a huge amount of money thrown at it, and a lot of people are willing to do that, actors and directors, to get films made. Sometimes it's the only way to get a really good project [done].

Were the producers or the studio executives worried about the potential success of 'Doctor Zhivago'?

You didn't really get that, because it was such a big film. You get it on smaller films, because there is always drama going on. I've been on some films where they ripped a page out [of the script], and it was sort of important to the building of the character, but you didn't get that on 'Zhivago.'

You said recently that you left Liverpool a little bit before the Beatles did.

They were still playing in the Cavern. I knew them, because we all mixed and used to go to the same clubs. And also working with Richard Lester, we had photographs done at that time. Suddenly, the Liverpool Mafia [was] moving to London and taking it over.

What were The Beatles like?
They were great. It was a crazy time, and they were so good and full of fun and energy. I worked with Richard, so they came to the premiere of 'The Knack.'

There is a famous picture of you sitting next to George Harrison in India. What we were you doing there?

I was doing a film with [director] James Ivory called 'The Guru,' with Michael York. George was there, and we just met up. [In the photo] I was sitting and looking adoringly at him. [Laughs] They used that photograph so much. He was there because he was with Ravi Shankar. This was when he was playing the sitar.

Did you stay in touch with any of them?
Yes, over the years. Paul called me up about two years ago, because one of his daughters' partners was doing a short. I was sent the script, and I did it.

Were you close with David Lean after the shooting of 'Doctor Zhivago'?

I used to go to certain events. I got on very well with him and his wife.

Sir Alec Guinness went on to do 'Star Wars.' What was it like to see him in the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi?

Fascinating, because he said that that was marvelous. Alec Guinness was thrilled about that part. He said that brought him into the vision of a young audience.

You also experienced a resurgence yourself in the '80s by appearing on the British show 'Bread.' How was that experience?
That was a show that a friend of mine wrote, and in fact, Linda and Paul McCartney appeared on it. Linda was trying to get the family to stop eating meat. The show is about Liverpool and how most of this family was on the dole or doing shifty things. I move in next door. I was supposed to do a couple of them, but I ended up doing about nine shows. It was fun to do, and at the end of it was just a nice length of time to do it. I could have continued on, but I felt it was enough just to do that.

You've been mentioned in a couple of pop songs recently, including by one by Franz Ferdinand. Was that fun to hear?
That's very flattering, isn't it? I don't know why [they did it], but it's nice.

What do you think is the most underrated performance in your career?

Oh God, I wouldn't even think about it. I just enjoy acting. It depends upon how people see it. I don't read reviews. I haven't read [any] for years. I just don't want to. I really don't want to, because you do the best you can, and then you'll always remember the bad ones. I think it's better to just do the best you can. People always want to tell you, of course. "I shouldn't say it, but ..." And you think, "Just leave me alone." You can tell if something is doing well or not. I think if reviews are constructive that's great, but sometimes they can be destructive. Of course, you can learn from certain things, but you hope that you will get that direction from the director, and obviously when you're all working together as actors things happen.

Do you have any projects coming up?
I'll be doing a film toward the end of May, a British film called 'Sea Monster.' It's about two 17-year-olds who have grown up in a seaside town and their relationship between each other. It's a coming-of-age story. My character is this lady who sits in this café, but is quite interesting, because she would have to be in order for young people to want to talk to her. Young people don't have time for old people, unless there's something interesting about them. I suggested some things [to the writers], if she had a bit of history and went to London in the '60s and maybe had an affair with a couple of rock musicians. I think kids would find that quite cool. I think that would be an interesting thing because then they might actually listen to her.

You have been involved in raising money for breast cancer research after your own daughter battled the disease.

That's very important to me. My daughter Aisha was diagnosed five years ago. She had a lumpectomy and chemotherapy. I went with her to every session, and she continued working. She had the chemo on Friday, and Monday she was back in post-production. She's a post-production supervisor. She's fantastic. I will do everything I can to raise awareness. We're doing a walk at the end of May at Beachy Head for the Royal Marsden Hospital -- it's a brilliant hospital and is also a teaching hospital in London --and also for a hospice in Eastbourne. In doing it [going to the chemo sessions], I met a fellow who was there, and we would sit chatting while our loved ones were having chemo. He wrote to me through the BBC about two years ago, and sadly his wife passed away. He said that he had met me and would I help with the walk, and I was very happy to do it. Now Aisha's partner has designed the logo for the leaflet, so we're all working towards that. It's so important.

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