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Penelope Wilton understood, but didn't agree with her 'Marigold' character

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   Feb. 10, 2013 at 4:07 PM   |   Comments

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NEW YORK, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- British actress Penelope Wilton says she thinks her character in the film "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" is easy to relate to since, like Jean, many people don't like being out of their comfort zone.

Co-starring Wilton's fellow "Downton Abbey" cast member Maggie Smith, as well as Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Judi Dench and Tom Wilkinson, "Marigold" was up for the BAFTA Award for Best British Film Sunday, but lost out to another Dench picture, "Skyfall."

Now available on DVD and Blu-ray, "Marigold" is a touching, intelligent fish-out-of-water comedy about a group of senior citizens who hope to start new lives in what they believe will be an affordable, but luxurious retirement community in India. Once they arrive and find their building isn't quite as advertised, most of them are surprised to discover how easily they adjust to their simpler surroundings, enjoying love and adventure along the way. Unfortunately, Wilton's character never acclimates to her new homeland and she eventually heads back to England without her spouse, played by Nighy.

"Why I liked [this film] is it would have been completely unrealistic for everyone to go and fall in love with India because that's not how life is. Some people want the world to be like the life they have [at home] and to have that sort of change is too much, especially if your marriage is in a very rocky position anyhow and you go away to India thinking it's going to get better and actually forgetting that you take yourself and all your problems with you, so these things are not going to mend themselves and you don't have any of your usual points of reference. You're somewhere completely alien to you and you get very frightened," Wilton told United Press International in New York recently, noting Jean's next adventure is starting over without her husband.

"I think she had the grace to own up to it in the end and say [to her husband:] 'Listen, we both deserve more. Let's get out rather than ruin each other's lives.' I think they behave rather well in the end," Wilton said. "She has expectations that never really get fulfilled."

Wilton said Jean's reaction to India couldn't have been more different than her own.

"I loved it," she said. "I'd never been before. I thought, 'I must come back.' It is a really wonderful place."

Wilton can now be seen in Season 3 of "Downton Abbey."

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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