When was the first time you read the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, and what was your response to them?
It was in 2000 when I picked up the first book, August of 2000, and fell madly in love with it. I was living in Johannesburg at the time, and it was a summer sort of sunny day, it was actually winter, I should say. But I sat down and I just read it in one seating. At the end of it, I just started crying. It was so life-affirming and so uplifting that I said I really want to make a movie out of this. It was actually love at first sight.
So what was the process like going from reading that book in 2000 to actually filming it here in Botswana?
Oh, it took a long time. I had met Anthony Minghella about a year previous. I was working as a CEO with a film company down in Johannesburg, the first black empowerment film company. The first thing he said to me was that he would shoot something for me in Africa. I was like, well how's Tuesday? You know what I mean? I just wanted him to do that. In retrospect, it was terribly naïve of me to believe him because he was somebody who was famous and he'd obviously gotten the Oscar® for 'The English Patient' and had done amazing movies. I just believed that he would. And when I found this book I said, "This is what I'd like you to make."