DEVIL OF A TIME
It took a long time and a lot of hard work to get The
Devil’s Own made; at one time, even Brad Pitt wasn’t
enough for the studios, as Louise Keller discovers.
"This was one of the most complex movies I have ever
made," says director Alan J. Pakula. "The subject
matter is so rich because there are so many different ways it can
be viewed. And as much as I love filming in New York, you’re
constantly fighting the weather, the people, the traffic and
sometimes even City Hall. With the help of an enormously talented
cast and crew, I believe we’ve met the cinematic challenges.
If this movie could serve as a model for the struggle it depicts,
it would be one in which all parties work unrelentingly toward
The project had been conceived nearly a decade prior to
filming and developed by producer Lawrence Gordon.
"It’s been quite an odyssey over a period of nearly ten
years," Gordon recalls. "This movie began as a pitch
for which we hired screenwriter Kevin Jarre to write a script. He
disappeared for a couple of years and came back many months
overdue with a wonderful screenplay." recalls Gordon.
"I’d been sending
Harrison every script I’d had for 20 years, so it was to
my great pleasure and surprise when he said ‘yes’
to this one." producer
"Brad Pitt committed to the story five years ago. But at
that time, no studio thought he was bankable. Harrison had always
been one of Brad’s favourite actors and Brad suggested we
send him the script. I’d been sending Harrison every script
I’d had for 20 years, so it was to my great pleasure and
surprise when he said ‘yes’ to this one. We then set
about to find a director and everyone agreed Alan Pakula was the
Casting Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt, two of the biggest stars
in the film business created challenges. Both actors were willing
to sacrifice ego to serve the story, but each wanted the fullest
possible development of the character he had to portray.
"I say a star is
someone who holds an audience’s attention on the
Alan J. Pakula
"They are two quite remarkable actors, possibly the two
greatest stars of their generations," says Pakula.
"People ask me what a star is, and I say a star is someone
who holds an audience’s attention on the screen, someone who
involves the viewer to such an extent that he or she becomes part
of the story in a way that is beyond acting. It’s a factor
of personality. Each of these actors is capable of keeping an
audience wide-eyed and holding its collective breath as his
character moves the mystery along."
Harrison Ford, who was voted The Star of the Century by
America’s Theatre Owners, had worked previously with Pakula
on Presumed Innocent.
"Harrison Ford has this extraordinary decency in the
characters he plays," explains the director. "He is a
moral man in an immoral time. He has the ability to convey a high
standard of integrity into any part,"
The ‘ordinary’ aspect of the role of O’Meara
appealed to the actor. "I liked this part because it was
different from any I’ve played recently," says Ford.
"He’s a blue collar guy, a responsible family man whose
world completely changes as a result of complications that ensue
from taking this young man into his home. O’Meara is a
character who is fated to play a part in this young man’s
life. His life would probably continued without incident if it
weren’t for the introduction of Rory, who brings with him a
moral conflict that has not yet been a part of his experience.
It’s like a grown son, someone you can go out and have a
beer with, play a game of pool; someone who’s not a
"Tom accepts Rory because of their shared heritage, their
shared faith and also a common wild side." says Margaret
Colin, who plays O’Meara’s wife. " Both have this
Celtic spirit of the warrior pounding inside. Each seems to
instinctively understand and respect that in the other."
"I liked this part
because it was different from any I’ve played
Brad Pitt has now become the biggest box office draw of the
new generation of actors, since starring roles in Legends of the
Fall, Seven, Interview with the Vampire and 12 Monkeys. Native
Midwesterner Pitt knew little of the situation in Northern
Ireland when he signed on for the role of Rory. "I did all
the research I could," he says. "Unfortunately, the
troubles in Ireland have gone on for three hundred years and I
don’t think there’s any way to completely understand
them if you haven’t grown up in them, but I travelled there
several times. I read all the books and met with several people
who had been involved in the struggle first hand." Rory sees
Tom as "the father that Rory lost," says Pitt,
"maybe he’s a best friend. He’s a figure that Rory
looks up to."
"He’s a young man who
could just stick with romantic lead parts and be adored by
Pakula about Brad Pitt
"Brad is very courageous in what he does in this
movie," Pakula relates. "He’s a young man who
could just stick with romantic lead parts and be adored by women
and admired by men for years. Instead he has chosen to play parts
that are not exactly him. He’s spent months practicing a
Belfast accent. He has an intensity and passion for his character
and what the character believes in. That makes one understand, if
not accept, some of the tragic actions he must take in fighting
for what he believes."