Nfld. & Labrador

Maudie set to put Newfoundland on the map, says producer Mary Sexton

The cast and crew of the new film Maudie have been busy working movie magic in the Goulds area of St. John's to bring the life of legendary Nova Scotia painter Maud Lewis to the big screen.

Mary Sexton says 'Maudie' will put Newfoundland on the map

Here and Now

6 years ago
Mary Sexton talks about the challenges faced getting the film made and the fantastic team. 1:36

The cast and crew of the new film Maudie have been busy working movie magic in the Goulds area of St. John's to bring the life of legendary Nova Scotia painter Maud Lewis to the big screen.

Producer Mary Sexton said Newfoundland writer Sherry White uses Lewis's folk art as a backdrop for an unlikely love story between Maud and her husband Everett Lewis.

"Two odd socks came together and stayed together," said Sexton. "Maud changed Everett, she made him a better human being for having her in his life."

Sexton said it has taken 10 years to get the project off the ground, but she's thrilled with the product and the crew.

"Getting a film to camera is a miracle and each and every time you do it there [are] always different challenges," said Sexton.

"We've brought together an incredible team here in Newfoundland."

The Maud Lewis house, where the late folk artist lived and painted for years in rural Nova Scotia, is one of the enduring displays at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

As the story goes, Maud answered an ad for a 'live-in' housekeeper that Everett had posted. Shortly after, the two were married.

They lived in their tiny 10-by-12 foot home in Digby, Nova Scotia for 30 years. Over that time, Maud painted every square inch of the house, which is now on display at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

The production team constructed a replica of the Lewis' homestead. Although it's slightly larger, the replica had to be transformed to reflect the changes made to it by Maud over the years.

The artwork has all signs of the beauty Lewis saw in the world around her and the things she would have used as inspiration.

Sexton added that the production has been blessed with excellent weather and it's amazing how the area in Goulds looks so much like Nova Scotia.

"Well it is pretty phenomenal and the sunsets here have probably been the nicest sunsets I've seen in Newfoundland in a very long time," said Sexton.

British actress Sally Hawkins plays legendary folk artist Maud Lewis in the film Maudie. (The Associated Press)

Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke play the lead roles of Maud Lewis and her husband Everett.

Sexton said both actors embraced Newfoundland and their roles. The story spans 40 years and over time Maud's health deteriorates.

"She had severe rheumatoid arthritis and she was crumpled up," said Sexton.

 She said Hawkins was incredible with all the details of Maud's character.

"What she's done with her art classes, her movement coaching even her dialect, you know she's done the homework so she brings it every single day," said Sexton.

Hollywood actor Ethan Hawke enjoyed being in Newfoundland filming scenes for the upcoming movie Maudie.

"When we were first thinking about Everett, you wouldn't think that you would get such a classical handsome guy to play the role, but Ethan has just taken it on with vim, vigour and enthusiasm."

Off screen, Sexton said Hawkins and Hawke are very genuine, social people. They enjoyed the environment so much that both are talking about vacationing here after the film wraps.

Incredible feeling

Sexton said being involved with a production like Maudie is an incredible feeling. 

"This opportunity and to have the privilege of working with who I've worked with, i'm pretty content," said Sexton.

"Maudie is going to put me, and Newfoundland and all our team that have worked so hard, on the map."


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