In Still Mine, American actor James Cromwell plays a New Brunswick man facing court after an over-zealous building official tries to stop him from constructing a new home for his ailing wife.

Written and directed by Michael McGowan, the drama is a fictionalized version of a real New Brunswick case, but Cromwell wanted to put his own stamp on the role.

"It's the first time I've ever done the lead in a picture and doing the lead is very different from being a character actor. My definition of a character actor is — they never get the girl. This time I got the girl, and not only did I get the girl, it happens to be a woman that I had a crush on from the time I was in college," Cromwell told CBC’s Eli Glasner.

still-mine2-300

James Cromwell and Geneviève Bujold portray an elderly couple in the drama Still Mine. (Mongrel Media)

That woman is Geneviève Bujold, the French-Canadian actress who starred in films such as Anne of the Thousand DaysKamouraska and Coma. Bujold plays a woman who is losing her memory, the wife of Cromwell's character. The film includes a violent scene in which she lashes out at him.

"My natural inclination is to try to support people, so when we did the violent scenes, I said ‘I’ll take care of it. I will not drop you. You can hit me, you can kick me. Do whatever you want.' So I gave her the freedom," he said.

Although Still Mine is similar to the recent French-language Oscar-winner Amour in its exploration of aging, Cromwell said he welcomed the Canadian film's more optimistic outlook.

"This… is this man's desire to give the last conscious moments of his wife's life a context that is supportive and representative of the life they’ve spent together. That’s very deep and it’s also very Canadian," he said.