Mark Twain & Mary Baker Eddy - A film by Val Kilmer

Archive for October, 2010

Val Kilmer starring in new film by Francis Ford Coppola

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

In this audio clip, Val shares some news about his new film with Francis Ford Coppola and some developments on his work on the Twain Eddy film. (more…)

Conversations after church, Wednesday 10/6/10

Friday, October 8th, 2010

At a Wednesday evening service in Connecticut this week, after elegant readings and testimonies on infinite supply, I had the occasion to speak to several members of the church. There was a very lively conversation about our film and Mrs. Eddy. They were supportive and curious about how the film was progressing, particularly wondering who will play Mrs. Eddy. I mentioned that it is obviously the role of a lifetime, meaning that it will probably be the most challenging and rewarding role imaginable. It is one thing to be inspired by genius, insight and prowess — to be inspired by God; it is quite another to embody it, reflect it, in the eyes.

It is an interesting challenge.

A cinema is not a church. People may have expectations that are not realistic in relation to the movie. Or in relation to Mrs. Eddy herself. The beauty of the medium of film is that it provides an intimate view into the daily lives of characters, even those who have become icons for us. It offers a unique window into their struggles and triumphs, giving us the opportunity to relate to them in a fresh way.

One church member mentioned that she was concerned that the actress playing the role may overshadow Mrs. Eddy — that one may leave the cinema talking more about the actress than Mrs. Eddy. For this reason she felt the actress should be an unknown rather than a star. This is an unlikely problem for two reasons: one, it is hard to imagine the character of Mrs. Eddy being outshined by anyone; two, I in my work as a director will devote myself to ensuring that there is a proper balance and that her character is embodied with dignity, subtlety and grace.

Another topic that came up was the idea that the actress who plays Mrs. Eddy must be very spiritual, humble and a good example. Indeed Mark Twain may have been thinking of Mrs. Eddy herself when he said, “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” While it is not up to me to determine how an actress spends her time off the set, I appreciate this sentiment and also expect that the woman who plays her will bring a deep sense of spirituality, commitment, warmth and compassion to the work.

As these concerns come up among those who most love Mrs. Eddy and seek to see her accurately potrayed (as I do most of all!), I am committed to pressing forward in the sometimes daunting but always inspiring quest to make this film a reality, holding to the words of a hymn we sang at the service: “We expect a bright tomorrow, All will be well…” — Christian Science Hymnal, #350.

Calvin Frye’s character

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Val’s response to the recent event at The Mary Baker Eddy Library:

I can appreciate viewer’s concerns about how Calvin Frye was depicted during our reading, so let me respond to this. But keep in mind scripts are not for public readings or even to be read privately as entertainment. They are maps that indicate ideas for an entirely different medium and even purpose, than the written word indicates. And they can never make sense out of context, any more than a jigsaw puzzle unsolved can look like the puzzle solved.

Although Calvin Frye is seen at the beginning of the film at the lowest point in his life, meaning that he was obstructing Mrs. Eddy’s mission as he hit the limits of his physical and mental stamina, this is exclusively and purposefully designed to reveal the highest point in his life and, in many ways, Mrs. Eddy’s.  They literally save each other’s lives in my film.  I am sure it would have helped people understand the scenes selected by Chet Manchester, who selected all the material and edited it, if I had explained this before reading.  It would be as false an impression if I were to tell the story of Mrs. Eddy’s life and include only the scene when she fell on the ice in Lynn.  That just wouldn’t do.

In my film, I am committed to portraying Mrs. Eddy and everyone around her in their true light to make the most positive impression about her as possible.  I intend to make a film that is a lighthearted “coming of age story” in which Mark Twain “grows up” through his contact with this remarkable spiritual thinker.  Although Mrs. Eddy is, at all times, serious, it is important to establish her hardships in a way that is honest and truthful, yet entertaining.  All of the major moments in my film are based on actual events researched thoroughly.  Mr. Frye, for whom I have gained particular affection, is suffering from extreme fatigue when the film opens.  This is a fact, as is the fact that he also saved her life on several occasions.  And she saved his on several more.   They spent 28 years together.  Other facts are revealed later in my film and are made more poignant because of Frye’s earlier failures. The idea we are pursuing is that the further from hope we are that Mr. Frye could possibly help Mrs. Eddy on these particular days, the more satisfying the healing, when he not only recovers but also assists, in saving her!

I should apologize for my performance as well.  Acting can be monkey-like or it can be as subtle as a Rembrandt brush stroke, and still be about the same moment or subject.  We intend to hire the highest caliber of “Rembrandts”!!!  No monkeys ALLOWED on my set.  Speaking of which, I should like you to know that there can be no compromise in the casting of Mrs. Eddy particularly. There isn’t even a film without her being cast with an actress who must achieve a level of subtlety, sophistication and depth that should make her portrayal the role of a lifetime.  So be assured there will not be a moment filmed that does not serve the story.  And the story is revealing of how Mrs. Eddy is simply, THE GREATEST.