Eva Green has told a London High Court that a low-budget version movie of a film she had signed on to make could have “killed my career.”
The actor, who has appeared in “Casino Royale” and “Penny Dreadful” among other projects, entered the witness box on Monday afternoon for her lawsuit against White Lantern (Britannica) Ltd over a $1 million fee she says is owed for a film called “A Patriot,” which fell apart in 2019 after it failed to secure production finance.
The original budget for the film, which was written and set to be directed by Dan Pringle, was set to be around $10 million. However, as the producers desperately tried to secure financing amid a rapidly changing independent film landscape the budget was slowly decreased without Green’s knowledge.
Max Mallin KC, representing White Lantern, asked Green why she signed up to the film. Clad in a dark green velvet jacket, black turtleneck and dark trousers, Green replied: “I fell in love with the story and thought it had to be told.” She also said she was drawn by her proposed role in the project – a soldier, which she had never played before – as well as the film’s themes of climate change.
Mallin suggested that, given her history as a Bond girl, it was also because Green wanted to be known as a “serious actress, engaging with serious [topics].” She replied: “I’ve done other movies that have serious topics.”
Referring to one of Green’s texts, which was disclosed during the discovery process, Mallin asked if she had described the film as a “B-shitty-movie” to which Green agreed she had. Continuing his questioning, Mallin asked Green whether, despite her affection for the script, she would have signed onto the production knowing it would be a “B-shitty-movie” to which Green replied she wouldn’t have.
Mallin asked whether she would still have starred in the “B-movie” version of the film in return for $1 million, to which Green replied: “I don’t care about the money. I live to make good films, it’s my religion.”
Mallin suggested that is because making a B-movie could be bad for an actor’s reputation. “Absolutely,” Green replied. “When an actor has appeared in a B movie you are labelled as a B actor and never get quality work again…It could kill my career.”
She also said that when she realized the full extent of “A Patriot’s” financial troubles, “I kind of panicked.”
White Lantern was originally set up as a production company for “A Patriot” by the film’s writer and director Dan Pringle, and producer Adam Merrifield. To finance pre-production, the duo obtained a bridge loan from media finance company Sherborne Media Finance, part of which was to be used for Green’s fee.
After it became clear production finance was proving elusive and Sherborne was at risk of losing its investment, the finance outfit parachuted in its own producers, Jake Seal and Andrew Mann, to get the film on track so the Sherborne could protect their investment and, according to Green’s lawyer, “try and construct a finance plan to provide an exit.”
During Pringle’s testimony, the writer/director described a chaotic situation in which development and pre-production had stalled after Seal’s vision for the film – delivered at a significantly lower budget – clashed with his and Green’s. Pringle recalled standing down various crew members and delaying both the start and location of the production multiple times before eventually trying to broker a deal for Green to return her fee to Sherborne in exchange for the script, which she, Pringle and Merrifield could then produce independently of the finance company.
Mallin, also representing Sherborne, put it to Pringle that he and Green had deliberately tried to undermine the production in order to devalue the script so that Green could purchase it for a lower cost. Pringle disputed that interpretation.
As part of their evidence, Sherborne pointed to a text message from Pringle to Green’s agent, Charles Collier of Tavistock Wood, in which Pringle said: “as of right now obviously all three of us [Pringle, Merrifield and Green] would rather eat tumours” than continue with Seal as lead producer.
Pringle and Merrifield resigned as directors of White Lantern in Jan. 2020 and Sherborne took over the company, which is now defending Green’s claim and countersuing her for “conspiracy, deceit and unlawful interference.”
The thrust of the case centers over whether the film was ever going to enter production and, if so, Green was “ready, willing and able” to perform in it.
Green’s case is that she was waiting to be called upon to perform but the film was “built on sand” and the production collapsed without calling her. She says she is therefore owed her fee under her “pay or play” agreement. White Lantern and Sherborne’s case is that it was Green who undermined the project and then walked away, causing the film to collapse.
The case continues.