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

Director's Notes

Kilmer’s original inspiration for a story about Twain and Eddy

Awhile back we asked you why you thought Kilmer chose Twain and Eddy as the stars. Why these two in particular?
We could keep guessing, but why not hear the real answer? Enter Val Kilmer:

The short answer about Mrs. Eddy, is that I love America and she more than any woman I have ever come across, embodied most perfectly, the Great American dream. The film begins with a scroll, “By 1900, Mary Baker Eddy was perhaps the most famous woman in America, and definitely the most controversial. Mark Twain was definitely the most famous American in the world, and perhaps the most colorful. Some say she raised the dead. They all say he raised Hell.”

Twain represents ‘mortals’ in all our genius and glory, and all our selfishness and pettiness. He is also a rare thing, a sensitive man. He also, by his own choices, splits himself in half for us; making him perfect to represent the material “giving way to the spiritual.” Whether it is true that Mark Twain is materialistic and Sam Clemens is spiritually minded, no one can truly say, but it is a convenience many authors have made much of, and I intend to do the same. I was looking for a story that would be the main plot away from Mrs. Eddy, that leads us to her.”

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12 Responses to “Kilmer’s original inspiration for a story about Twain and Eddy”

  1. joni dollar says:

    As I read some of the suggestions for the characters, the actors people were suggesting were great. But why use actors that have such fame that they would take away from the characters in the story.
    Mr. Kilmer portrays Mark Twain in such a way you really think of M.Twain, but of course that also comes with experience and yes, some of the names that were suggested are the most in experience.
    Why not choose upcoming actors that are just starting out or have just a few spots in new movies and/ on stage?
    It just seems that sensitivity to the characters is so important and not just because a name or face.

  2. L.. says:

    I;m so looking forward to this film thanks for doing it.

  3. Annet Ummels-Majolee says:

    As Mrs. Eddy (unfortunately and undeserved) and her work isn’t well known outside America her link with Mark Twain is the perfect way to let a larger public know about her and her healing but I do hope Mark Twain will not be overshadowed by Mrs. Eddy as he doesn’t deserve that. He has earned his right in history and this is a Twain/Eddy film. I know it will be difficult to do those two powerfull people just in the short time a film takes but I hope you will succeed in it. Also congratulations and good luck on you first film as a director. I always wondered how someone can direct him/herself in a film.

  4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Val Kilmer Forum. Val Kilmer Forum said: RT @twaineddyfilm: We asked you to take your guess at Kilmer's original inspiration for a story about Twain and Eddy… and here's… [...]

  5. Justicekeyes says:

    After Sifting through flour and sugar and mulling this interesting combo of Mary B. Eddy and one of our favorite all time writer, Mr. Mark Twain, I have to come to the conclusion that Mary Baker Eddy, (a common name at the dinner table where I grew up) was living in a different time(whelm) and space than most of us do. There will always be a band-aid to wrap around a cut, however the band-aid has very little to do with the healing of the cut, With Mark Twain, as prolific as Val Kilmer himself, I just have to say the little I did see of the film, was pretty darn hysterical and funny, even if I felt a little guilty laughing at some of the lines, Val is a true artist and in full control of expressing the character that he plays, astonishing and always very impressive. I wonder why he is not seen more on the old brick and morter of “Movie” world. We loved Batman and We will love Mark Twain also! Probably perhaps an Actor and Genius of our times, the Jimmy Hendrix of Acting!
    From one of your biggest fans!
    Thank you for the entertainment, especially today when we all need it most.

  6. Twain-Eddy
    Just one more step up in the life of Val Kilmer, stretching that artistic plight into writing and directing and staring in this new venture. Kilmer is a man of all seasons undeniable by his faith and his ability.
    The heart and soul of this man is something I have come to admire. His intelligence and fortitude and stability are far reaching into society, he leads, he teaches and becoming the teacher, director, he sends his message out to the world and his fans, through those artistic talents.
    Twain-Eddy, is Val Kilmer, colorful, controversial, Genius and Famous in all his own glory, spiritually minded and very sensitive. Val has my attention and he will always have my heart.
    Twain-Eddy will be his masterpiece

  7. Courtenay Rule says:

    One of the ironies of Twain’s life is that under the materialistic/egotistic public persona, he was a very deep – and troubled – spiritual thinker. With all the tragedies he could see in the world and his own life, especially the deaths of his wife and most of his children, he saw no way that God could possibly be good and loving, and yet he still couldn’t bear to let go of religion entirely. And then along comes Eddy, with a spiritual teaching that insists that not only is God all-powerful AND all-loving, but this can be proved in real life through healing as Jesus did. On the surface, an obvious target for Twain’s satire (for all his forward-thinking views, he was uncomfortable with women who became rich and famous by their own efforts and genius). But the whole time, he seems to have been torn between that increasingly savage ridicule and the haunting thought: what if what she teaches IS true…? He could never quite bring himself to believe it, and yet he just couldn’t let go of it, of his near obsession with her. That’s what I think makes the connection between them so interesting, and such a great subject to explore in a film.

  8. Angela says:

    Will be ONE of his masterpieces.

  9. Kathleen says:

    It is a very interesting concept to intertwine the lives of these two contemporaries, especially at a time when the autobiography of Mark Twain will finally be released after 100 years. With Mark Twain’s later years marked with illness and loss of family members and Ms. Baker-Eddy a famous yet controversal faith healer, with the potential to have fixed all that had gone wrong in Twain’s final years, the potential is rich with possibilities of a complex and multi-layered story.

  10. Malcolm says:

    One of the aspects of MBE’s life that baffled me for years was the lengths to which men (including Sam) would go in their efforts to discredit her. In the middle of reading about some high profile lawyer in Boston who offered his services for nothing to anyone who wanted to bring suit against her – I would silently ask myself, why don’t you guys just leave this lady alone – she’s not hurting you.

    It’s difficult for contemporary people to grasp the extent to which males controlled every avenue of life outside the home in the 19th century. I asked my grandfather, a retired Methodist minister, why he had spent so much of his life as an outspoken opponent of Mrs. Eddy. He explained that his boss, the head Methodist, was a vociferous adversary of MBE because, although barred from going to Seminary because of her sex, she had formed her own church and become its first minister. He felt if she was successful there was no telling what women might pull off next.

    I asked my grandfather what changed his mind about MBE and Christian Science. He said he was standing near his daughter, my mother, at our ranch in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of New Mexico in the 1940’s when he saw her get blown across the kitchen by a gas oven explosion in which she was badly burned and knocked unconscious. My father reached their Christian Science teacher in Dallas and by the next morning she had had a complete healing. From that morning he became vocal proponent of Christian Science.

    It seems important that the movie help contemporary people understand the cultural environment Mrs. Eddy was up against – with Sam voicing much of the outrage against her success in spite of the barriers erected to protect male domination. She couldn’t vote, couldn’t own property, couldn’t go to college, limited employment opportunities, etc. etc.

  11. Angela says:

    Inspiration Strikes!
    I don’t know if you have read this book yet but even flipping through the book has been quite a spark of inspiration for me. On page 10 there is picture of Ethel Barrymore, Great-aunt of Drew Barrymore, which states that Twain “enjoyed it thoroughly…” being a the party and spending much of his time with her. This leads me to ask the question, have you guys talked with Drew, she has her own production company and more than anyone might have a great interest in being apart of the process, even if just to play her great-aunt I would think. Page 20 has a quote from Twain saying “I have no know, and shall never know, anyone who could fill the place of the wife I have lost,” saying she died in 1904. Love this quote under his photograph on page 308 “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities, Truth isn’t.” Two pages later there is a photograph of him in January 1909 with Helen Keller.
    Back on page 128 there is a cute term he called his “surrogate granddaughters, or ‘angelfish’,” which was what he nick named them. On page 31 there are also 3 photographs of his daughter that died, Jean Clemens, in 1884, 1898, and 1909.

    His “older surviving daughter, Clara was…” nicknamed “Night” by her piano teacher in Vienna – Theodor Leschetizky because she loved/”was so fond of wearing black.” (page xxv)

    He has such great quotes I can image why Val Kilmer would find great inspiration in Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens, page 333 “Supposing is good, but finding out is better” :) I don’t want to leave out the book information.

    SOURCE:”Mark Twain: Man In White, The Grand Adventure o His Final Years” by Michael Sheldon.
    I was going do do a formal citation but this gives you more info about the actual book if you haven’t already got this one:
    Hardcover: 528 pages
    Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (January 26, 2010)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 0679448004
    ISBN-13: 978-0679448006
    Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
    Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds

  12. Angela says:

    Forgot the most important connection, page 72 has a photograph of Mary Baker Eddy which quotes Twain as saying “I think her proofreader should have been shot” when referring to her textbooks.

    This is why I love the 2007 or newer version of MS Word, enter it once it formats it however you want :) Just a bit of advice for any students reading, you need to cite your sources in your papers, otherwise it’s considered plagiarism! Don’t do it, give credit where credit is due.

    APA -
    Shelden, M. (2010). Mark Twain: Man in White, The Grand Adventure of His Final Years (1st ed.). New York, NY, USA: Random House.
    MLA –
    Shelden, Michael. Mark Twain: Man in White, The Grand Adventure of His Final Years. 1st. New York: Random House, 2010.

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