Eva Green feared making B movie that ‘could kill my career’, High Court hears

Hollywood star Eva Green feared making a “B shitty movie” that could kill off her career, she told the High Court in a legal battle over doomed production for a 2019 sci-fi thriller.

The French actress, 42, is suing for her $1 million fee after signing up to star in A Patriot, but faces accusations that she actively sabotaged the film when she fell out with the executive producers.

Starting her evidence, Green inisisted she wanted to make the “most brilliant film possible” and signed up to A Patriot after “falling in love” with the script.

But she said she became increasingly disillusioned with the project amid budget cuts and low pay for crew members.

“I don’t care about the money, I live to make good films. It’s my religion”, she told the court.

The High Court trial has seen messages sent during pre-production, amid an acrimonious falling out between Green, financial backers White Lantern, and executive producers Jake Seal and Terry Bird.

Max Mallin KC, representing White Lantern, pointed the actress to a text in which she suggested the film Mr Seal was attempting to make would be “a B shitty movie”.

“I did say that, yes”, the actress said, accepting she would not have signed on to A Patriot if it had been originally presented as a low-budget film.

“Making a B movie, a low quality movie, is bad for your reputation”, suggested Mr Mallin.

Green replied: “Absolutely, when an actor is appearing in a B movie, you get labelled a B actor, you never get offered quality work ever again.

“It could kill my career.”

I never wanted it to be a B movie

Turning to later on in pre-production, Green said she had surrounded herself with people who “loved the project and were ready to be part of this adventure”.

“They wanted to be paid standard industry rates, and that was the thing with Jake and his team – they didn’t want to be paid standard industry rates.

“I’ve done several low budget movies, and still the crew were paid standard industry rates.”

Green added: “I never wanted it to be a B movie. I realised it was going to happen towards the end.

“This is when I panicked. Although it was not in safe hands, if we managed to surrounded ourselves with a strong core crew, it was going to be a quality film.

“I had several opportunities to walk away from the project, I was within my rights.

Eva Green arriving at the High Court (PA)
Eva Green arriving at the High Court (PA)

“At the time, I felt I had an armour – strong crew members around me – I thought we had got these strange producers, but a strong crew, so we could still make something good quality. But yes, I was probably naïve.”

Green, the star of Bond film Casino Royale, is accused of breach of contract by walking out on the film, but insists she upheld her end of the deal and had been ready for filming. However the project was undermined by financiers “desperate” to recoup their initial investment.

Sorry for ‘horrible’ comments

The actress, dressed in black with a green jacket and sunglasses, was surrounded by waiting photographers as she arrived at the Rolls Building of the High Court on Monday morning.

She faced questions over her foul-mouthed messages about executive producer Jake Seal, who she dubbed “evil”, and Terry Bird, who she is alleged to have called a “f***ing moron”, as well as allegedly sending messages referring to potential crew members as “Shitty peasants”.

In her statement, Green says: “I recognise that in some of my emails and messages through the course of August and September 2019, I used inappropriate language and said some horrible things, particularly about Jake and Terry, and I apologise for expressing myself in that manner.

“However, I did so at a time of extreme stress and anxiety and at times through sheer frustration at the lack of progress with production and what I felt were (or I understood to be) examples of unprofessionalism.”

In her evidence, Green blamed referring to the director and producer as “weak and stupid” on her nationality.

“That is my Frenchness coming out”, she said. Sometimes I say emotional things, things I don’t really mean. Of course they are not weak and stupid.”

Green admitted she has only met Mr Seal on one occasion and never visited his studio in Hampshire where the film was suppose to be made.

Confronted over the “peasants” comment, Green stifled a laugh as she told the court: “I have nothing against peasants from Hampshire, I was just, I don’t know.”

“Don’t you?”, retorted Mr Mallin, asking if that is why she added the word “shitty”.

“I have nothing against peasants”, replied the actress. “I just meant I didn’t want to work with locals who were inexperienced.”

Pulling out of film like ‘abandoning my baby’

Green, the star of films including Dumbo and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, is accused of pretending to be keen for the movie to be made, in an alleged plot called “Operation Fake It!”, while planning to pull out - an allegation she strongly denies.

She says she was “hurt and shocked” by the allegation, telling the court: “Why on earth would I sabotage a project that I loved and that I risked my reputation on? It makes no sense at all.”

She added: “As I have said repeatedly, I fell deeply in love with this project, not only the role, but also the message of the Film. I couldn’t imagine abandoning the Film, as it would have been like abandoning my baby. It still feels that way.”

Green said she was attracted to A Patriot creator Dan Pringle’s “brave and daring” writing, signing on to a film she hoped would be “truly magical”.

“When I confirmed to Dan that I wanted to play the role of Kate Jones in the Film, I did so because I fell in love with the project, not only because Kate Jones was unlike any other character I had played before – a soldier – but the narrative also contained a very strong message about climate change”, she said in her witness statement.

“I was thrilled to have the opportunity to play the role because I believed in its message and felt I was standing up for a cause that I truly believe in.

“As the Film had many action scenes (including a number of fight scenes), I knew I would need to be in top physical shape, and undertake a period of intensive stunt training, to be able to tackle the role and be believable as a soldier.

“I believed and still do, that the Film had the capacity to really wake people up and help them to see that the devastation of our world would eventually trigger resource wars and massive migration.”

Green said she was “shocked and upset” when, during pre-production, the decision was taken to move filming from Ireland to the UK after a funding deal fell through.

“I am very fond of Ireland, and I have strong professional support there, so the move was a personal blow”, she said.

Green said she believed Mr Pringle and producer Adam Merrifield “had deceived me and broken my trust in them” after keeping her in the dark over financial arrangements. However they patched up their relationship after ‘clear the air’ talks in Paris.

The actress consented to the switch to studios in Hampshire, but said there was concern about the direction of the film under Mr Seal’s management.

‘Rather eat tumours’ than work with ‘sub-standard’ producer

She alleged Mr Seal and Mr Bird “regularly ignored attempts by my preferred crew members and/or their agents to contact them”, she claimed her stunt training was not organised, and studio conditions were “sub-standard”.

Green also said a dialect coach, Debra Bruce-Nazarian, was not hired to help her preparations: “Even though my name is ‘Green’, I am French, born and raised in France, and my mother-tongue is French. So I needed proper time to prepare with Debra to be believable as a British soldier.

“But as far as I am aware she was never engaged or paid by WLFB and I had to meet the cost of her services privately, as well as paying for my own personal training. I also turned down offers for work on other films to be able to do the Film.”

On Monday morning, the film’s writer and director Dan Pringle was asked about a message he sent when financing of the film was potentially being restructured, and would have given “complete control” to Mr Seal.

He said Green, producer Adam Merrifield, and himself were deciding if they “wish to proceed with the new structure”, adding: “As of right now, obviously all three of us would rather eat tumours”.

Mr Pringle said Green “felt strongly” the restructure “was not a good idea” and she wanted to hand back her fee in return for control of the script, which they could produce elsewhere.

Of the words he used, he said: “I regret saying that, as I shouldn’t be speaking on behalf of Adam and Eva.”

He said the production was “in a state of disarray” at that time, with different options for the future of the film being looked at.

On Friday, Mr Pringle said Green’s $1 million fee had hampered production as they struggled with a burdensome loan and interest payments, but she had offered cost-cutting suggestions such as not having a trailer and staying in local hotels.

He also told the court she made “unrealistic” and “crazy” suggestions about crew that could be hired, including Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan’s director of photography.

“I didn’t know her well enough to know how serious she was being with some of her suggestions”, he said, referring to them as “Hail Marys”.

Green said she grew “extremely frustrated” as the production crumbled in September 2019, but denied claims that she was preparing to pull out.

“I could not bear the thought of walking away from the Film and I was not prepared to do so”, she said.

She also disagreed that her fee for the film was too high for the production to manage.

“I had been on board since May, given everything to it for six months”, she said. “I worked really hard to gather a great crew.

“I spent my own money on physical training, a dialect coach. I gave my heart and soul to this project, so no, I disagree.”

The film, which had actors Helen Hunt and Charles Dance attached as co-stars, collapsed in late 2019. Green is suing for the payment of her fee, while production company White Lantern Film (Britannica) Limited and financiers SMC Specialty Finance LLC are counterclaiming for breach of contract.

The trial continues.