Film company ‘pictures Eva Green as a diva’ in legal fight over film’s collapse

The Supreme Court has heard that a legal battle over the collapse of actress Eva Green’s £4m film project was designed to portray her as a “diva” and tarnish her reputation.

The 42-year-old Casino Royale star would star in the sci-fi movie A Patriot before production was halted in October 2019.

It is suing production company White Lantern Films, claiming it was entitled to a million-dollar (approximately £810,000) fee for the film despite its cancellation.

Ms. Green, who is the actress and executive producer on the project, claims she is entitled to her pay if the production is canceled under the so-called “pay or play” clause.

White Lantern Films defends the case and is counter-suing, alleging that she repeatedly made “unreasonable demands” against the French actress and undermined the production of the film.

At the start of the eight-day trial on Thursday, attorney Edmund Cullen KC told the court that Ms. Green wanted to have the film made, but that “the financial plan would never work.”

“This was a passion project for him. The plot of the movie is about the climate catastrophe, a topic that interests him a lot.

“He loved the script and wanted the movie done, he bent over backwards to do it.”

Lawyers for White Lantern Films said in their written defense of the allegation that Ms. Green had expressed “lack of confidence and dissatisfaction” with some of the production crew.

Max Mallin KC for White Lantern claimed he was “increasingly reluctant to get involved in production” in breach of contract.

In the text messages used in White Lantern’s claim, Mrs. Green is said to have referred to one of the film’s executive producers, Jake Seal, as “evil”, a “sneaky sociopath” and a “liar and madman”.

Another message said to have come from Ms. Green in August 2019, “I can’t believe Moron Jake is pure vomit.”

He is also said to have called production manager Terry Bird a “shit****** moron” and described Mr Seal and Mr Bird as “complete scumbags”.

But Mr Cullen told the court: “This case is designed to portray my client as a diva to make headlines and tarnish her reputation.”

She added that it was “truly extraordinary” that Ms. Green faced a case where she “somehow tried to undermine the project by making unreasonable demands from the very beginning”.

eva green

Eva Green (Yui Mok/PA)

The lawyer continued: “He has repeatedly agreed to delay the start of principal photography. She has agreed to move the production from Ireland to the UK. He repeatedly made offers to use part of his wages to finance production costs.

In written presentations, Mr. Cullen said that White Lantern’s defense to the case was “an artificial construct that bears no reality to the real and legal situation that existed at the time”.

“It seems designed to defame an actor who hasn’t breached a contract or missed a day’s shoot in his 20-year career,” he added.

Mr. Cullen later said the text messages “must be seen in context” of negotiations over the purchase of a lender to White Lantern in exchange for script rights.

He added: “In fact, these are informal expulsions of a stream of consciousness as events unfold.

“Language is vulnerable and sometimes expressed forcefully and perhaps carelessly.

“Contradictory and variables that reflect the personalities of those involved and the extreme tension surrounding the production of the film.”

The lawyer said the White Lantern “tried to blame every failure in production on Mrs. Green’s door.”

He later told the court that the production was “in a completely dysfunctional state” and that “the truth” was that “this is a production that could never be made, and that the accused knew it”.

Judge Michael Green is expected to make his decision at a later date.

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