Elbert Wyche talks to Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland about their new film, The Last of Robin Hood, which will receive its world premiere in Toronto on Sept 6.
The Killer Films drama The Last of Robin Hood is a relationship triangle about fading movie star Errol Flynn, his last – and underage – girlfriend and her mother.
Kevin Kline, Dakota Fanning and Susan Sarandon star.
Cinetic Media represents US rights.
What interested you about the Errol Flynn story?
Wash Westmoreland: It was really the tabloid scandal of 1959; it generated so many headlines. Afterwards the mother wrote a book called The Big Love. It was after reading the book that we said, ‘Wow, this material has unexpected depths.’ It really speaks to a lot of things about fame, celebrity and mortality and different types of love. That was our first contact with the material and our inspiration to write the film.
Richard Glatzer: When you read the mother’s book you are very tempted to read between the lines. What did she know and what was she concealing from herself? It becomes a story of wilful blindness. The mother was clearly living out her own thwarted ambitions through her child; not that we see any of that now. As film buffs too we were fascinated by this glimpse of the last days of studio Hollywood.
WW: The mother had a religious belief about the power of Hollywood. Errol Flynn on the other side of the coin had been famous for 30 years and had overdosed on fame. You have these two polarities there and the story is really about the woman, Beverly Aadland [played by Fanning], who finds herself between these two personalities during her adolescence.
When and where did shooting take place?
WW: We had the challenge of shooting [everything] in Atlanta, Georgia. We shot in February. The story goes from LA in the 50’s to New York in the 50’s, to Africa, to Cuba and to most exotic of all… Canada. We had to the whole thing in Atlanta, which became a canvas for so many locations.
RG: We adapted our Africa section so it could be shot in an airport parking lot. Atlanta has a great variety of locations. We were so impressed with some of the grand old locations but also amazing mid-century modern places too.
How did Kevin Kline become attached to the film?
WW: We didn’t start writing the film until about 2007. In 2010 the script accidentally got to Kevin Kline. Our script was sent in as a writing sample for another project. The manager of the client on that project said, ‘Hang on a second, this is a great script, Kevin is interested in this story.’ Kevin had independently come to his manager saying. ‘Have you ever heard of this story of Errol Flynn at the end of his life and this strange controversial love affair?’ The manager informed Kevin that he had read our script the week before. So it was like this magical coincidence that got the script into Kevin’s hands.
RG: Kevin Kline was always our top choice. We didn’t even know the script had gone to the manager.
WW: It just found its way to him. He’s been approached to play Errol Flynn five times in his life and he always turned it down.
How did you hear you’d been accepted into TIFF and how did you react?
WW: We just got an email from our producer and we were extremely happy. It is a wonderful showcase. When you’re in post-production on a movie, you are wondering what will be the first exposure of the film. It’s a great slate this year. It’s going to be a good festival.
Has a movie of yours ever played at Toronto before?
WW: There was the film Grief in 1993 that starred Craig Chester and Alexis Arquette. In 2001 The Fluffer played there and that was the year of 9/11 so that was a very complicated time at the festival. In 2008 we executive produced a film about Pedro Zamora called Pedro that played at Toronto; we were very happy about that screening. This is our fourth time.