Actress Eva Green has shown a “vitriolic aversion” to plans to produce a botched science fiction film and is not expected to receive her million-dollar fee, the High Court was told.
The Casino Royale star, 42, is accused of making “excessive creative and financial demands” and having “incompatible” expectations with the budget of the £4m project, which was closed in October 2019.
He’s suing the production company White Lantern Films, claiming they’re entitled to his fee for the abandoned film A Patriot, despite its cancellation.
White Lantern Films is defending the case and filing a counterclaim against the French actress, claiming she undermined the production of the independent film.
Lawyers for the company and its lender SMC Specialty Finance say she expressed “pure hostility” in messages referring to members of the production and conspired with the director and producer to secure the film rights and make a different film.
On the first day of a trial in London on Thursday, Max Mallin KC, for White Lantern Films, accepted that Green had a commitment to make a film, but that she ‘wanted to make’.
He said he “not only had no commitment, but a vitriolic aversion to making a film that White Lantern could and would have done.”
“We have a critical divide between Eva Green’s expectations of the film she wanted to make and what the budget could afford,” the attorney said.
Mr Mallin said Ms Green, who was not in court on Thursday, had “animosity” towards a viewing of the film held by one of the film’s executive producers, Jake Seal.
In the written arguments, the lawyer said that the film “with adequate resources” “could and would have been produced if the main actor and the essential element had not been extracted”.
“Green’s expectations for the film were incompatible with her budget: It was an independent film as opposed to the big-budget studio films Green was used to,” Mallin said.
He added, “The clash between Ms. Green’s expectations and reality was continually demonstrated by Ms. Green’s failure to responsibly engage in pre-production and her repeated unreasonable demands on White Lantern.”
Mr Mallin alleged that Ms Green had made a “fraudulent representation” that she was “ready, willing and able” to perform on her contract.
He claimed a “plan” was hatched between actress, writer and director Dan Pringle and producer Adam Merrifield – allegedly described by the latter as “Operation Fake It!” – to secure his fee and make a separate film without SMC’s involvement.
In a message to Mr. Pringle, Ms Green said her “soul of hers will die” if she made the film with Mr. Seal at the Black Hangar manufacturing facility in Hampshire, Mallin said.
The solicitor said in other exchanges with her agent and Mr Pringle, Ms Green said Mr Seal was planning to make a “cheap B-movie”, describing him as “the devil” and ” evil”, production manager Terry Bird as a “f ****** idiot”, and local crew members as “shit farmers … from Hampshire”.
Barrister Edmund Cullen KC, representing Ms Green, told the court on Thursday that he wanted to make the film but ‘the financial plan was never going to work out’.
She added: “This has been, for her, a passion project. The theme of the film concerns an issue that worries her a lot, namely the climate catastrophe.
“She loved the script and wanted to get the movie done, she bent over backwards to get it done.”
Mr Cullen added: “This case is designed to paint my client as a diva in order to grab the headlines and damage her reputation.”
In written submissions, Mr. Cullen denied that Ms. Green had breached her contract and said that White Lantern’s defense to her case was “designed to tarnish the name of an actor who has not breached a contract or lost a day of filming in a career spanning 20 years”.
Mr Cullen later said that Ms Green’s text messages “need to be seen in the context” of the negotiations on buying SMC in exchange for the rights to the script.
The lawyer said that White Lantern has “tried to pin every production failure on Ms. Green’s door”.
He later told the court that the production was in a “state of complete dysfunction” and that the “reality” was “this was a production that could never actually have been made and the defendant knew it.”
The nine-day trial continues, with Judge Michael Green expected to rule at a later time.
Ms. Green is due to testify on Monday.