Actress Eva Green was sometimes “unrealistic” with her expectations and wanted to hire expensive staff for an independent sci-fi movie that was later shuttered, the film’s director has told the High Court.
The Casino Royale star, 42, is accused of making “excessive creative and financial demands” and having “incompatible” expectations with the budget of the film A Patriot, which was shut down in October 2019.
She is suing production company White Lantern Films, claiming she is entitled to her one million dollar (£810,000) fee for the abandoned film, despite its cancellation.
White Lantern Films is bringing a counterclaim against the French actress, alleging she undermined the independent film’s production.
On Friday, Dan Pringle, who was the writer and director of the shuttered film, gave evidence at the High Court in London during the second day of the trial.
In his witness statement, Mr Pringle said that Ms Green was “our first choice for the role” in the dystopian thriller when considering actresses for the lead.
The film was also due to feature Game Of Thrones star Charles Dance and Twister star Helen Hunt, with Oscar winner Kathy Bates attached to the movie at one point.
Mr Pringle said that the proposed budget had been reduced from the 10 million dollars (£8 million) discussed with Ms Green to a lower estimate of 5.3 million euros (£4.6 million).
The court heard that the production had failed to get a subsidy from the Irish film development agency Screen Ireland, and a 1.2 million dollar (£970,000) funding deal with Sky was lost.
Max Mallin KC, for White Lantern, suggested there was a “discrepancy between on the one hand what Ms Green wanted and on the other hand what the budget could afford”.
Mr Pringle said in his written evidence: “We were also seeking talented people and Eva had her own high standards. This was the cause of a certain amount of frustration for all of us.
“There came a point where I considered that we may have to lower our sights to those with experience at slightly lower budget levels, and with less pedigree in our specific genre, however Eva desired that we keep pushing to secure those meeting our initial requirements.”
Mr Pringle told the court that Ms Green would say they should “reach for the stars” and that if the bid for a particular person failed they would then “move on to another potential target”.
“I didn’t know her well enough to know how serious she was being with some of her suggestions,” Mr Pringle added.
He said that one idea was to hire a director of photography known for working with Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan.
The director continued in his written evidence: “I think it is fair to say that Eva was at times a little unrealistic about some of her suggestions of heads of departments/key crew because the individuals were either too high-profile and/or too expensive for an independent production of our kind with a second-time director making a significant leap up.”
However, Mr Pringle added: “Ultimately, I think Eva’s choices of those key crew that we were able to secure demonstrated that she was prepared to approve realistic candidates that the production could afford, in line with the financial resources we had available whilst we were planning to shoot in Ireland.”
Under questioning from Mr Mallin, Mr Pringle said that he did not think that asking for specific crew members was a breach of contract and that Ms Green “was committed to this film in a way that goes beyond just being an actress”.
At the start of the trial on Thursday, Mr Mallin claimed that Ms Green, who is due to attend court on Monday, had an “animosity” towards a vision for the film held by one of the film’s executive producers, Jake Seal.
The barrister said that in exchanges with her agent and Mr Pringle, Ms Green claimed Mr Seal was planning to make a “cheap B movie”, describing him as “the devil” and “evil”, production manager Terry Bird as a “f****** moron”, and local crew members as “shitty peasants… from Hampshire”.
However on Friday, Mr Pringle said: “The peasants comment doesn’t necessarily relate to Jake’s staff at Black Hangar [Studios], it’s a comment about crewing from the local population. It’s a comment about whether Jake was going to hire people who knew the roles.”
Ms Green’s barrister Edmund Cullen KC previously said the actress “bent over backwards” to make the film but “the financial plan was never going to work”.
He later told the court that Ms Green had been painted “as a diva to win headlines and damage her reputation”.
The nine-day trial continues, with Mr Justice Michael Green expected to give his decision at a later date.