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

Director’s Notes

Calvin Frye’s character

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.

Kilmer in town

September 25th, 2010 – September, 24 2010 — Val did a phone interview with a Boston Globe reporter during his recent visit to the city. Among other things, he spoke of his work on the Twain-Eddy film project. Read the article

What would you ask Twain if you ran into him in the elevator?

July 15th, 2010

We got some great answers after asking you this question on Facebook, and wanted to post some of our favorites here. One of you wanted to know what the Twain Eddy Film team would ask them. Thanks for asking! If you haven’t answered yet, what are your thoughts?

What would you ask Twain if you ran into him in the elevator?

  • What childhood events perpetuated his creativity and incredible biting wit?
  • I would ask how man’s humanity has been altered by technology. we now have little or no time to sit back and contemplate the days as they pass.
  • Having lived a full & adventurous life, what do you regret most having done or not done in life?
  • What he thinks about Val Kilmer’s spot-on portrayal of him.
  • How have your views on religion and spirituality changed since experiencing your after life?
  • I would ask him why he was so interested in two women who were very devoted to God. Joan of Arc and Mary Baker Eddy…
  • Val Kilmer, Twain Eddy Film team member: How embarrassed ARE you by the things you said about Mrs. Eddy that you knew were lies?
  • Twain Eddy Film team member: Did you ever feel torn between who you really were (Samuel Clemens), and who you played publicly (Mark Twain)?
  • Twain Eddy Film team member: Do you have an iPad?
  • Twain Eddy Film team member: What parts of Eddy’s book resonated with you and why were you so convinced that she didn’t write it?

What would you ask Eddy if you ran into her in an elevator?

July 15th, 2010

Again, more of our favorite questions submitted on our Facebook page. Here’s your answer to what some of the Twain Eddy Film team members would ask her too. What would you say?

What would you ask Eddy if you ran into her in the elevator?

  • How did she recognize she could heal herself AND point the way for others to do the same?
  • I’d be really selfish about it: can you heal me?
  • I think I’d just give her a big hug (but try not to startle her too much)!
  • I would ask her how she envisions the presence of Church online.
  • Do you sail? Or go by steamboat?
  • I’d ask her what God had revealed to her that day.
  • How can I help you?
  • Val Kilmer, Twain Eddy Film team member: “Would you consider Calvin Frye as your best friend since losing your husband?” I know, this seems trite, in light of, “What does Revelation feel like?” But this is the first thing I thought of when I read this. Also, “Why didn’t you let it be more widely known that you raised Mr. Frye from the grave?”
  • Twain Eddy Film team member: What do you think of Facebook?
  • Twain Eddy Film team member: How the heck did you manage to love people who hated you so much?
  • Twain Eddy Film team member: What advice would you have for us in the 21st century?

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

July 12th, 2010

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.”

Why do you think Kilmer chose Twain and Eddy as the stars?

July 2nd, 2010

When we asked you, our Facebook fans and biggest supporters, if you had any guesses as to why we were working on a movie focusing on these two characters in particular, we got a lot of responses. Almost all of them were right. Here were some of our favorites:

  • Two souls reflecting one another
  • Because Twain and Eddy are the embodiment of “the American”. Their personalities and beliefs are a great contribution to history.
  • An American icon and a woman who dedicated her life to helping others. I think this story needs to be told if for no other reason then the next generation to know their story.
  • Twain saw a hope in Eddy, a faith that inspired him to want to know more. Maybe, just maybe the those who see this movie will be inspired to believe.
  • Because they were 2 of the most interesting people of their times. Both brilliant and utter complete opposites in nature.
  • One spiritualist mover and one soulful writer combined to show the American epitome of inspiration through awing admiration…people yearn to hear this story.
  • If you haven’t added to the conversation yet, what do you think is missing from this discussion? Why do you think Twain and Eddy were chosen to star opposite each other in this film?

Who is Calvin Frye?

June 28th, 2010

One of our main characters. Frye was trained as a machinist in gritty Lawrence, Mass. Endured tough childhood as son of a disabled father and a mother who suffered from insanity. Both Frye and his mother were helped by Eddy’s teachings. Began working as her secretary a month after her husband dies. Frye meets her at train in Boston, and remains with her for 28 years – with only 4 days off.

Val Kilmer’s “Mark Twain and Mary Baker Eddy” – A film in the making

June 12th, 2010 chat – June 8, 2010 — listen to this 90-minute chat about the film with Val who’s joined in the studio by researcher Mike Davis from The Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston. Together with host, Ingrid Peschke, they explore the relationship between Twain and Eddy and how their lives will translate into film. Listen to the chat

Twain and Eddy

April 5th, 2010
  • she’s a healer, he’s a humorist
  • Eddy is so original it infuriates Twain
  • Eddy is not “old” – always surprising
  • she’s Houdini
  • Her life is never what we expect
  • Twain is “teasing” her constantly

Val Kilmer takes the stage as Mark Twain

April 4th, 2010

Christian Science Sentinel – March 15, 2010 — The halls were buzzing at The Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston on February 11, as actor Val Kilmer took the stage in character as Mark Twain — complete with wig, mustache, and Twain’s signature white suit. Read the article