I received a reply this morning from director Gavin O’Connor regarding an item I wrote eight days ago (on 11.5) about Pride and Glory, an Ed Norton-Colin Farrell cop drama that’s been done since last November but has been bumped by New Line into an ’09 release.
I wrote that “you can tell from the trailer that Pride and Glory is a little boiler-platey, perhaps a little too emphatic and histrionic.” I also said that “my general motto is that any New Line film that costars Noah Emmerich (brother of production chief Tobey Emmerich) is a potential problem” but that “there doesn’t seem to be anything to fear from O’Connor, who did a first-rate job with ’04’s Miracle.”
O’Connor said he was writing “to introduce myself and thank you for the kind words about Miracle and set the record straight about Noah Emmerich and your insight into the film’s trailer. For the record, I had to fight tooth and nail to get Noah in my film. Tobey Emmerich wanted me to cast a star, someone who brought overseas name value to the project, and in no way wanted Noah in the movie, and was completely immovable on the subject for a long time.
“I cast Noah in my first film, Tumbleweeds, and also Miracle — he played the assistant coach. He’s a great actor, truly underrated, and one of my favorites. After a long, hard fought battle with Tobey, he finally relented, realizing that I wasn’t going to take no for an answer. When you see Noah’s work I believe you’ll understand why I pressed so hard to cast him in the film. His portrayal of the character is riveting and the complexity and unflinching honesty he brought to the role speaks for itself.
“I had a conversation with Todd Field about his experience working at New Line, and we shared a similar war story regarding Noah. I’m sure you know, Todd cast Noah in Little Children, and he too had to battle Tobey to get him in the film. Todd is a huge fan of Noah’s and expressed that to Tobey. Once again, Tobey resisted, wanting a bigger name in the film, someone with more overseas value, etc. Todd dug in his heels and Tobey finally relented.
“I offer you this information because it’s unfair to presume that Noah gets cast in New Line films because he’s Tobey’s brother. If anything, it works against him, requiring filmmakers to duke it out with the studio on his behalf. And we do that because of the high regard we have for Noah as an actor.
“If anything, its a coincidence that Todd and I, both big fans of Noah’s work, happened to be making our films at New Line. We would have cast him at whatever studio was financing our films.
“It seems to me also unfair to judge my film before you’ve seen it. You’re summarizing the entirety of the film based on a two-minute trailer. I invite you to experience the film in its full breadth and depth, and if after that you still feel that it’s boiler-platey and histrionic, I’ll welcome that critique, and respect your opinion. But until then, in fairness to me as the creator of the film, it would be very much appreciated if you would reserve judgment.
“I’ve been trying to realize this movie for over seven years, and though an amazing experience making the film at New Line, it has now become heartbreaking, watching it get caught up in corporate maneuvering, where bookkeeping seems to take precedent over filmmaking. My film is living in some form of studio purgatory, so it hurts to read negative comments about it before its ever been released.
“I write this letter to you from my heart. With no malice intended. Grounded in humility and sincerity. I hope its received in the same manner. With respect and a handshake, Gavin O’Connor.”
Wells reply: Thanks and point taken. I’m well aware that trailers sometime do a disservice to the film they’re supposed to be selling in a positive way. I’d love to have a chance to see Pride and Glory sometime before ’09. Thanks for writing and again, great job on Miracle.