Last week I ran a piece about Green Zone, the upcoming Paul Greengrass movie, in which Jason Isaacs was quoted saying that the film is essentially being made without a script. Turns out the quote was taken well out of context (I picked it up from MTV) and didn’t accurately depict the work actually being done on the film. We were contacted by both Mr. Isaacs and producer Lloyd Levin, and while I was out of town at the end of last week Nick took the article down.
This is what Jason Isaacs had to say in response to the piece and the quote:
I can’t imagine saying that we are making Green Zone, the Paul Greengrass movie, without a script or that it wasn’t a brilliant one. Brian Helgeland – he of LA Confidential, Mystic River, Knight’s Tale etc etc etc fame – wrote a fantastically taut script that, along with the rest of the cast, persuaded me to abandon my family and decamp to Morocco for months. It’s true that there are real soldiers, Iraqis and experts of all kinds on set who contribute to the authenticity and that Paul’s style of shooting keeps you absolutely on your toes, but the story, the scenes and pretty much every word come from his Oscar-winning keyboard. Which is just as well since his version is a nail-biting thriller that fizzes off the pages whilst my improvised version would consist of me swearing a lot, mumbling and asking what time we were breaking for lunch.*
There are a couple of layers to this story, which involve the full context of Isaacs’s original quote (which I don’t have) and the reasons by which MTV ran it as they did (which I don’t know). But I take Isaacs at his word that the production is relying very fully upon Brian Helgeland’s script and not shooting at all from the hip, as the original quote suggested.
More important is the fact that I ran the story because, to be fully honest, I was fascinated by the idea that Paul Greengrass could shoot fully from the hip. I want it to be true, because I have a confidence in his abilities that I think applies to very few people working today. The work we do on this end demystifies the process of filmmaking to such an extent that we occasionally single out certain filmmakers as romantic ideals (you know what I mean there) and Greengrass is one such person.
But the bottom line is that I instinctively distrusted the quote. My original draft of the piece had lines to that effect — that Isaacs might have been making a point, and that it was either misinterpreted, exaggerated, or taken fully out of context. That aspect never made it into the original story, which I regret, just as I regret falling into the echo chamber mentality that characterizes the least useful practitioners of my job.