In Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader, a 15-year-old boy has a sexual relationship with a woman twice his age — so who better to bring the novel to the big screen than a cast of actors with relevant life experience? At last night’s premiere, Swedish-born actress Lena Olin freely admitted that, as a teenager, she had a relationship with a much older man (to the total horror of her publicist): “I think I was 16, and he was maybe 40 … 35,” she told us with a shrug. “But back in Sweden, 15 is the age [of consent]. I was 16, I wasn’t a child.”
Ralph Fiennes, who plays the grown-up youth in Reader, also confessed to having Mrs. Robinson–style affair just like the one in the movie — “I did, actually, yes,” he told us on the red carpet. “I wasn’t so screwed up as this guy I played. In my life it was okay; I was all right — I’m standing here talking to you,” he added, eyes twinkling.
Kate Winslet, who plays The Reader’s older woman, says she, too, had a similar experience when she was quite young: “I had a relationship that was one of the most important relationships of my life from the age of 15 to nearly 20 with a man who was almost thirteen years older than me,” she said, adding that the man later died (presumably referring to actor Stephen Tredre, who succumbed to bone cancer in 1997). “He was very much the love of my life during those years,” said Winslet.
Clearly feeling left out, director Stephen Daldry told us that he also had an affair as a teenager (“You know, I did”) but wouldn’t give up the important details. How old was he? “I’m not going to tell you that!” How old was the other person? “I’m not going to tell you that either, but it was all good. No negative effects for me.” But how much older was the other person? “I’m not telling you these secrets!” he shouted before leaving.
Only 18-year-old actor David Kross, who plays Winslet’s underage paramour in the movie, wouldn’t admit to steamy research for his role: “No, I didn’t,” he said. But, now that he’s made The Reader, would he consider an affair with an old person in the future? “We’re leaving now,” he told us.