Terrence Malick movies are like Russian roulette for actors.
My favorite Terrence Malick story occurred during the premiere of the Thin Red Line. As the legend goes, Adrian Brody showed up with his whole family for the premiere, only to sit through the movie and realize he was cut entirely out of it.
That's sort of what Malick does. He assembles a whole group of actors and shoots a lot of stuff. Then he works on the edit to build a loose narrative or narrative feeling and delivers his finished film. As an actor, you never know what will make it to the screen, or if you will.
Recently, a similar thing happened to Haley Bennett, with a much better outcome. She was cast in Malick's Song to Song. Despite showing up and shooting the movie for over a year, her scenes wound up on the cutting room floor. Her narrative didn't fit the finished idea that Malick envisioned.
Here's how she explained it to The Hollywood Reporter.
“Once Terrence Malick casts you in a film, it kind of puts you on the map for other filmmakers that have been affected by Terrence’s work—Antoine Fuqua being one of those people,” Bennett said. “And when I was up for a role in The Equalizer, Terrence sent Antoine Fuqua a hand-typed letter that he actually put in the mail. The letter had glowing reviews about my performance in [Song to Song].”
Obviously, a letter of endorsement from one director to another about anyone is taken very seriously.
Want to know what Malick wrote?
“I’m pleased to hear that you are considering Haley Bennett for your picture, and I am writing to sing her praises. She played an important role in the picture we shot in Austin this past fall, and she rocked every scene she did. Every shot, alive with her sense of her goodness, her love, her pain. I marveled at this, as did Chivo, our DP, and Jack Fisk, the production designer, and we often spoke about it among ourselves. She is going to play a role in a picture Jack’s wife [Sissy Spacek] is directing this fall. What’s more, you couldn’t find a more pleasant actress to work with. She’s always prepared and threw herself into things without reservation, giving her all. I feel confident you will be delighted with her. With all good wishes and a fraternal salute, I am yours sincerely.”
This is a really stand-up thing to do and shows a deep respect for the craft and what actors give a director. It's also a really nice gesture toward someone who worked hard to make your vision complete.
What do you think of this move by Malick?
Let us know in the comments.
I guess that's OK but man it would suck to be cut like that.
February 3, 2021 at 7:36AM