David A. Rosemont
Q: What do you think was the draw for Shelly to continue to work with Bill?
A:When Shelly first started working with Bill, I think she was in a place in her life where she wanted to help someone. She is able to take care of her family -- her husband and her kids -- while going on speaking engagements for Bill. She knows how to take care of others. She's done that very successfully and the fact she had the patience and the fortitude to stay with him, I think, is very much her character. That's what's so interesting and wonderful to see portrayed in this film.
Q: What did Macy and Schachter bring to the script?
A: They were both able to bring more to their other roles in the movie because they spent more time with the project. I asked Macy one day while looking at dailies if he saw himself or Bill Porter. He got to a point where he saw Bill Porter, and I thought that was great. Schachter is very much about detail, and I support that. He was very sure of what he wanted, and I was confident of his instincts.
Q: What do Bill Macy and Helen Mirren bring to their roles?
A: By nature, Macy is a very unpretentious man. He has a wonderful innocence about him and is a very bright guy. His unassuming nature, yet sharp wit, brought a lot of depth to his portrayal. And I consider Mirren to be one the of best international stars in the film business. I think it was her agent who said that this was one of the most beautiful scripts Mirren's read in a long time. The role of Porter's mother was not a big part, but it's the anchor. She is the reason that Bill Porter went on.
Were there any challenges in making this film?
A: When we all first read the script, we though it was such a beautiful story and screenplay. It was so fluid because the story really in itself is very basic. The challenge was that we had to tell a story that spanned almost 50 years in a small amount of time. I wanted to make sure that the size, scale and truth of the period were kept intact. We had a tremendous amount of make-up and costume changes. The whole crew understood their mark. I'm really pleased to say we had a first-rate crew. While the script and direction is important, the movie would not have worked if the audience was just concentrating on what they were seeing. We did pretty intensive hair and make-up tests prior to shooting. It was a worthwhile investment.
Q: What did TNT bring to this project?
A: TNT brought the opportunity. This is my sixth movie with them, and I have been fortunate to venture into territories that a lot of broadcast networks wouldn't do. TNT prides itself on the quality movies that they make.
Why is this story so compelling?
A: There's a line in the 20/20 piece where the reporter says, "There's a little bit of Bill Porter in all of us." In our day-to-day lives, we tend to blow our problems out of proportion, and I think it's sometimes heartwarming to sit down and watch something like this to put your own problems in perspective. You realize that, if he can do it, so can you. While working on the film, everyone involved understood that we had to bring the same truth and integrity that Porter brought to his life.
Was there a concern that people would feel sorry for Bill Porter and not look beyond his affliction?
A: I think the way you make these kind of movies resonate is to not point out their affliction or handicap. If you build a strong enough character, along with a compelling story, you can make the story larger than life. Take the film Shine as an example. If the movie was just about the condition the main character had, I think it would have been over in three minutes, but it wasn't. It was about a lot if things. So I didn't just think the story was about a man with cerebral palsy. It's about a man and his relationship with his community. In this movie, he is suddenly this normal man who forces everyone around him to look inside themselves and see that maybe they need to look a little bit more in the mirror.