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

Director's Notes

Calvin Frye’s character

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.

16 Responses to “Calvin Frye’s character”

  1. Bill says:

    Brillantly put. Your a daisy if you do…

  2. Allison Mosley says:

    Brilliant, Val! Thank you for sharing the birth of this movie and guiding us through it’s process. I am so looking forward to see it – and the actors and actresses who will protray these amazing people. Keep up the wonderful work!

  3. Pam says:

    You say Mrs. Eddy will at all times be portrayed as serious. I have read in biographies that she had a marvelous sense of humor. Don’t let the “serious” become over-bearing please unless your research proves she never laughed.

  4. Your work is so important, we have to keep the real art alive. Good story, good acting, dramatic ….the rest is easy to control or in other words, it depends on money! It´s fantastic to see a film growing in this point of fiew

  5. mary says:

    I agree with Pam. I understand she (MBE) had quite a sense of humor! In fact I would expect.

  6. Frederika says:

    Thank you for this informative post. Frye’s portrayed behaviour was perplexing to me as I have only envisioned him as an ever-present helper who occassionally needed reviving (I love the “went for pie in the pantry” story). But I have not conducted any study on Frye the individual (vs. Frye the ideal), so who am I to judge?

    I trust the integrity and motives of all involved in this movie, and therefore must trust the characterizations and all the rest of what it takes to get a movie out to the public.

    Thank you for undertaking this great work. May Soul bless you with continual creativity, joy, energy, patience, wisdom, and satisfaction.

  7. Barbara W. says:

    What has kept me encouraged over the years is knowing that even Mrs. Eddy and those closest to her had their struggles. But, the most valuable thing is the example of how they prayed their way out of them. My favorite line from the movie “Starman” came from the ET played by Jeff Bridges. Near the end of the film, he tells the earthlings something like, “Do you know what I find most beautiful about earth people? They are at their very best when things are at their very worst.”
    I feel certain Val, that you’ll tell the story as it is meant to be told.

  8. Annet Ummels-Majolee says:

    We’ve only seen a small selection of what the movie is going to to be like. It’s difficult to make remarks on something unfinished. I know you have studied the characters and will be true to the persons portrayed so why appologize where none is needed. It is about time that this movie is made and no one better than you is qualified to make it. To you and your team I can only say well done and keep up the good work. I’m looking forward to see the movie.

  9. Malcolm McFall says:

    I’ve often thought of Mrs. Eddy sitting in an attic room in the early 1860’s, taken in by a relative – destitute, abandoned, sickly, and unemployable. She must have felt at the end of her rope.

    Tommy Smothers told of such a person sitting in the middle of a dirt road when this thing of “Life” comes by at about eye-level. The person grabs ahold with both arms and gets taken for the ride of his life.

    Over the next forty-some years, Mrs. Eddy must have looked back often at that point when her life seemed without prospect. It’s no wonder she inspired so many millions, including me, after completely conquering hopelessness. That thing of “Life” gave her quite a ride. I look forward to enjoying your movie about two bright lights at the turn of the last century.

    On a trip up the coast recently my wife read to us Mr. Twain’s spoof about French Duels – so thoroughly enjoyable.

  10. Doris Temme says:

    I wanted to write when I first read this explanation, but I was thrown off by “the monkey-like” remark.

    I expected to get only glimpses of the characters from the reading but because of the cast I got so much more.

    I thought the exchange between Mrs. Eddy & Frye was wonderful. The dialogue wasn’t extensive but, immediately, I got some insight into their working relationship. Frye was not portrayed as a caricature. I saw him as a human being with flaws who, at that moment in time, had some issues on his mind.

    So, thank you to Val Kilmer, Anne Early, Chet Manchester, and Laura LaPointe.

    I’m so excited about the Twain & Eddy film!

  11. Kim Shuler says:

    I want to thank Val Kilmer, Anne Early, Chet Manchester, and Laura LaPointe for their wonderful script reading at the Centenary Webcast event honoring Mary Baker Eddy. I am very honored that Val is allowing us to follow along and be included in a movie that he is making. Not many directors would allow the public to know what is going on while a movie is being made.. actually I’ve never known one that would. Some directors close the set to the public and we are very lucky if we manage to find a photo from the set or information about the movie while it is being filmed. For me, the webcast event was a celebration of a very remarkable woman who I admire more every day and the reading from the staff and Val just added to the evening’s event. It saddens me that Val has to explain what should be very obvious even to a novice in the film industry such as myself. I am not so sure about the monkey stuff but I do understand the Rembrandt ;) I am not making excuses for anyone but it was very plain to me that we were only getting a bit of the flavor of the film and the real message of the evening was getting to know Mrs. Eddy. Val, thank you for explaining more about how a movie is made and more about the making of Mary Baker Eddy & Mark Twain movie.

  12. naima Oettinger says:

    Dear Kim,
    As a director, I know exactly what does mean to build a production on the film market industry.
    I know also exactly what does mean to make a movie out of the commercial way…
    For that, I understand what Val is facing, even if he is Val Kilmer…. He has to be brave….
    And I admire this….

  13. min says:

    In response to you rembrandt comment-I believe you Mr Val Kilmer could transform any monkey into a rembrandt-just as Pro Henry Higgins transforms Eliza Dolittle.
    Your are a genius-much love and respect to you.

    Pygmalion: A Romance in Five Acts (1912) is a play by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. Professor of phonetics Henry Higgins makes a bet that he can train a bedraggled Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, to pass for a duchess at an ambassador’s garden party by teaching her to assume a veneer of gentility, the most important element of which, he believes, is impeccable speech. The play is a sharp lampoon of the rigid British class system of the day and a comment on women’s independence, packaged as a romantic comedy.

  14. Sheila says:

    thank you for giving us space to air our comments – I and those around me (as most are life-long Christian Scientists) were more than a little upset that a piece out of context seemed to portray Frye as a mental idiot and Mary Baker Eddy as a money-making, servant-abusing monster…but that is out of context and I am ’soothed’ by your inviting comments, and to read where and how many know you are taking such a contentious episode – I too look forward to seeing the film, as I feel I must be (at this moment,) your worst critic. I feel our Leader would – a) not have spoken with Kalvin Frye that way (also out of context, as she always reminds us – “neither person, place or thing” – but the impersonal sense (as Christ Jesus did in casting out the demon and leaving the person healed) so for her to direct comments such as “you are mad/insane” at someone so tenderly devoted to her service seems a slap in the face to everything she ever put her name to, and us,her millions of followers. – b) she would not have addressed a drunkard without healing him, so for Mark Twain to be making all these complementary remarks about Mary Baker Eddy, and then drinking another whiskey, doesn’t gel either – so you’ve got me in your audience with baited breath til you prove me wrong as to thinking you and Chet were not right in depicting our Leader out of context, in such a way.

  15. Sheila says:

    If you don’t want to publish my comments I understand-just get the message – I’m not part of the scene, but am grateful for your open mind approach…and wish you well in what is really going on with your motive to draw in prayers from those who would rather be supporting your valiant endeavors with Love’s inspiration all the Way…Hugs Sheila

  16. Sheila says:

    no comment – except -looking forward to seeing the film – thank you

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