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She's a driver not a diva

Category: Phantom of the Opera News
Article Date: December 27, 2004 | Publication: London Free Press | Author: LOUIS B. HOBSON, Special to The Free Press

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NEW YORK -- Minnie Driver can drive a car, but she doesn't profess to be a race car driver. That's the analogy she uses to explain why her opera arias were dubbed in Joel Schumacher's film version of The Phantom of the Opera.

Driver, 34, plays Carlotta, the temperamental Italian singer whose career is threatened by the opera ghost's young protege, Christine.

All the character's histrionics are clearly Driver in full diva mode, but her voice comes courtesy of opera star Margaret Preece.

"I can belt out Broadway tunes, but not opera. That kind of voice requires massive technique. We never pretended for a moment that was me singing. We made no secret that I was being dubbed," says Driver, who released her debut album Everything I've Got in My Pocket in September.

Though it's not opera, Driver's stylings are heard in The Phantom of the Opera.

She sings Learn to be Lonely under the film's final credits. It is the original song Andrew Lloyd Webber and Charles Hart wrote for the film and it has earned them a Golden Globe nomination for best original song.

Lloyd Webber explains Learn to be Lonely "was originally meant to be sung by the phantom but when we were editing the movie we felt the scene slowed the pace so we removed it.

"The scene will be on the DVD."

Driver says she gave Lloyd Webber a copy of her debut album.

"He called the next day and asked if I'd like to sing his new song during the film's credits. We did the recording in three takes."

If the song is nominated for an Oscar, Driver could find herself singing it at the Academy Awards.

"The very thought of that possibility fills me with glee. It would be so bizarre."

Schumacher offered the role of Carlotta to Driver without asking for an audition.

"I met Joel 10 years ago when I auditioned for him for Batman & Robin. It was for the role that went to Nicole Kidman.

"I was still a bit chubby when I did that audition, so I understood why I was quickly out of the running, but Joel promised we'd work together one day."

When Driver asked Schumacher why he had thought of her for Carlotta he said he'd seen her slapstick guest performance on Will & Grace.

"People in the industry didn't think I could be funny until Will & Grace, and it seems everyone watches that show."

Driver jokes that she's in a very different Phantom movie than most of the cast.

"The other principal actors are doing this sweeping romantic melodrama. I'm in this over-the-top operatic thingy."

Driver is currently dating an Australian businessman she met when their plane was delayed.

"I love Australia because I'm a surfer, so there are now two major draws for me down there."

Driver is currently shooting the drama The Virgin of Juarez with Joanna Cassidy in Mexico.

"Once I finish this film, I'm going to start working on a second album. The experience of recording the first one was so rewarding."


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