In-depth looks at Carol, Mad Max: Fury Road, Room and Spotlight





The grit and the glory

The features in this week’s Awards Countdown take us deeper into the worlds of four leading contenders. They reveal the work that has gone on, often for years, sometimes for decades, to bring these stories to the screen.

Australian director George Miller was brooding on what a fourth Mad Max film would look like back in 1997. By the start of the new millennium, Mel Gibson was set to appear in the film, which was ready to go with 20th Century Fox. But following 9/11, the US dollar collapsed against the value of the Australian dollar and the plug was pulled. Many years later, Miller found a new Max in Tom Hardy, who captured Gibson’s charisma, and with Charlize Theron as Furiosa had a pairing impressive enough to convince Warner Bros to return to the Wasteland.

Similarly, producer Elizabeth Karlsen first became interested in Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price Of Salt, with a view to making it into a film, Carol, back in 2001. Here, she details in her own words the moments of serendipity that brought director Todd Haynes on board and attracted actors Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett.

The journalists on the investigative reporting team at The Boston Globe know all about the hard graft of researching and crafting a vital, once-in-a-liftetime story. In 2003, they won a Pulitzer Prize for revealing how the Catholic Church had covered up child abuse by members of its clergy in the Boston area for years. Director Tom McCarthy and producer Steve Golin explain how they worked with the real-life team to turn Spotlight, their story-behind-the-story,  into a compelling cinematic narrative.

In a refreshing contrast, Irish-Canadian novelist Emma Donoghue was confident enough to turn her debut book Room into a screenplay before it was published. The story of a five-year-old boy and his mother who escape from the fortified shed where they have been held captive for years  became a best-seller when it was published in 2010. Together with director Lenny Abrahamson and producer Ed Guiney, Donoghue recalls the many challenges inherent in translating such an emotionally and visually tricky story into a compelling feature film.

Interestingly, Donoghue turns to Abrahamson and confirms with a smile: “You didn’t really mess with anything much.”

Louise Tutt, contributing editor