Hollywood star Eva Green said she was unfairly “pictured as a diva” in a fierce legal battle with producers and financiers over a death-death sci-fi movie as the Supreme Court trial begins Thursday.
The actress signed on to star in A Patriot with Helen Hunt and Charles Dance in 2019, and says it’s a “passionate project” to highlight climate disaster.
But the project was derailed amid a bitter dispute between Green, financial backers White Lantern, and executive producers Jake Seal and Terry Bird.
Green has been accused of “unreasonable demands” and a covert attempt to sabotage the production, but says the film was fatally undermined by his efforts to make it “for short money.”
In his keynote address, Green’s attorney Edmund Cullen KC said the star was targeted in a legal case “designed to defame his name”.
“This lawsuit is designed to portray my client as a diva, making headlines and tarnishing her reputation and intimidating her not to oppose the case,” she said.
She said the former Bond girl was desperate to make the film but was “in dispute” with financiers who never managed to secure a budget originally planned at around £8m.
“It was a passion project for him,” she said. “The theme of the movie is about an issue that worries him a lot, namely the climate catastrophe.
“He loved the script and wanted the movie made. To do this, he bent backwards.
“He has repeatedly agreed to delay the start of principal photography and has agreed to relocate from Ireland to the UK.
“He repeatedly offers to use part of his fee to finance production costs.”
Mr. Cullen continued: “We now say it’s truly extraordinary that he is facing a case where he tried to somehow undermine the project by making unreasonable demands from the beginning.”
Green sued for the £830,000 fee he received from the doomed project, but later faced a counterclaim that he deliberately sabotaged the film.
He will testify on Monday next week, but missed today’s hearing due to scheduling conflicts.
In messages disclosed before the trial, the 42-year-old French actress branded Mr. Seal “bad” and a “mad man”, referred to himself as “Cruella” and described Mr Bird as a “damn moron”.
Green’s legal team insisted that the messages “should be seen in context.”
“It is actually the informal expulsion of a stream of consciousness as events unfold.
“Language is vulnerable and sometimes expressed forcefully and perhaps carelessly.
“Contradictory and variable, reflecting the personalities of the people involved and the extreme tension surrounding the making of the Film.”
Green, the star of movies like Sin City 2 and Dumbo, has been accused of making unreasonable demands to hire crew members and change the shooting schedule, but says he has those powers as an executive producer.
He is accused of pretending to be satisfied with the production while specifically seeking ways out of the movie, and allegedly calling it “Operation Fake.”
In response, Green says he is trying to make the best quality movie possible and has doubts about the funding and direction of the project.
Max Mallin KC, representing White Lantern, said the film project collapsed after “a conflict between Ms. Green’s expectations and reality”, accusing her of “not participating responsibly in pre-production and repeatedly making unreasonable demands on White Lantern”.
In written submissions, he argued, there was evidence that Green began expressing reservations about the production shortly after signing up.
Mr. Seal sent messages saying it was “impossible” to work while he was involved, and suggested that if he had to go to studios in Hampshire his “soul would die”, adding: “This is why I withdraw”.
While Green denied that he was withdrawing from the project, Mr Mallin said he nearly withdrew from the project when the actress expressed “feeling a bad feeling in my heart” during the transition from Ireland to the UK in July 2019.
In September, Green said of Mr. Seal: “Jake is a crazy dictator with plans to make a cheap B movie.”
In his written statements to the court, Mr. Cullen described the case against Green as “unfocused and rambling”.
“It looks like it was designed to smear an actor who hasn’t broken a contract or missed a day’s shoot in his 20-year career,” he said, suggesting that executive producers “tried to brush aside every failure in production.” Eva Green’s door”.
Green’s team says the claim against him was “an attempt to reconstruct a false factual narrative.”
They continued: “Oddly enough, Eva Green has been heavily criticized for her supposedly irrational behavior, while in fact documentary evidence shows that she is constantly striving to ensure that the film is of the highest possible quality, hiring the appropriate crew.”
He says he was “shocked and upset” when a financing grant was not obtained and production moved outside of Ireland.
The court heard that the film’s original financiers had put forward $1.25 million, but for the first time as a producer and director, the film was “at risk”.
Green says that Mr. Seal was commissioned to try to get the money back, with the financiers putting forward only $150,000 more despite filming the upcoming movie.
“They wanted the film to be made cheaply,” said Mr. Cullen. “Eva Green was caught up in this mess.”
Mr Mallin said Green had “a commitment to the film he wanted to make, but not only a commitment but also a scathing distaste for the film that White Lantern could and would make”.
The court heard that both Hunt and Dance were pulled from the movie when the movie crashed in the fall of 2019. Actors Tim Robbins and Kathy Bates were originally added to the film.
Green faces White Lantern Film (Britannica) Limited and a second defendant, SMC Specialty Finance LLC.
The trial continues.