Eva Green told the High Court in London that a low-budget version 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, took the witness stand on Monday afternoon in her lawsuit against White Lantern (Britannica) Ltd over a $1 million fee she says she is owed for a film , called “A Patriot,” which folded in 2019 after failing to secure production financing.
The original budget for the film, which was written and directed by Dan Pringle, was set to be around $10 million. However, as producers desperately try to secure financing amid the rapidly changing independent film landscape, the budget slowly dwindles without Green’s knowledge.
Max Mallin KC, representing White Lantern, asked Green why she signed up for the film. Dressed in a dark green velvet jacket, black turtleneck and dark trousers, Green replied: “I fell in love with the story and thought it needed to be told.” She also said she was drawn to the project’s proposed role of a soldier, which she had never before she didn’t play—and neither did the film’s themes of climate change.
Malin suggested that, given her history as a Bond girl, it was also because Green wanted to be known as “a serious actress, engaging in serious [topics].” She replied, “I’ve done other films that have serious themes.”
Referring to one of Green’s lyrics that was revealed during the discovery process, Malin asked if she had described the film as a “B-shitty-movie”, to which Green agreed that she had. Continuing to question, Malin asked Green if, despite her affection for the script, she would have gone into production knowing it would be a “B-shit-movie”, to which Green replied that she would not.
Malin asked if she would still star in the “B-movie” version of the film in exchange for $1 million, to which Green replied, “I don’t care about the money. I live to make good films, that’s my religion.”
Malin suggested that this was because making a B-movie could be bad for an actor’s reputation. “Absolutely,” Green replied. “When an actor appears in a B movie, you’re labeled as a B actor and you never get quality work again… It could kill my career.”
She also said that when she realized the full extent of Patriot’s financial problems, “I panicked.”
White Lantern was originally formed as a production company for “A Patriot” by the film’s writer-director Dan Pringle and producer Adam Merrifield. To fund pre-production, the duo obtained a bridging loan from media finance company Sherborne Media Finance, part of which was to be used for Green’s fee.
After it became clear that production financing was proving elusive and Sherborne was at risk of losing his investment, the finance team parachuted in their own producers, Jake Seale and Andrew Mann, to get the film off the ground, so Sherborne to be able to protect their investments and, according to Green’s attorney, “try to put together a financial plan that provides an exit.”
During Pringle’s testimony, the writer/director described a chaotic situation in which development and pre-production stalled after Seale’s vision for the film — delivered on a significantly lower budget — clashed with his and Green’s. Pringle recalled that he fired various crew members and delayed both the start and location of the production multiple times before finally trying to work out a deal in which Green would return her fee to Sherborne in exchange for the script that she, Pringle and Merrifield could then produce independently of the finance company.
Malin, also representing Sherborne, told Pringle that he and Green had deliberately tried to undermine the production to devalue the script so that Green could buy it at a lower price. Pringle disputed this 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 [Pringle, Merrifield and Green] would rather eat tumors’ than continue with Seal as executive producer.
Pringle and Merrifield resigned as directors of White Lantern in January 2020 and Sherborne took over the company, which is now defending Green’s claim against her for “conspiracy, fraud and tortious interference”.
The case’s dispute centered on whether the film would ever go into production and, if so, whether Green was “ready, willing and able” to star in it.
Greene’s story is that she was waiting to be called to act, but the film was “built on sand” and the production collapsed without her being called. She says she is therefore owed the fee under her pay-or-play agreement. The case of White Lantern and Sherborne is that it was Green who undermined the project and then walked away, causing the film to collapse.
The case continues.