Nicole Kidman And Clive Owen Star In HBO Films’ 'Hemingway & Gellhorn', A Film By Philip Kaufman

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May 9th, 2012

via press release:

 

NICOLE KIDMAN AND CLIVE OWEN STAR IN HBO FILMS’

HEMINGWAY & GELLHORN,

A FILM BY PHILIP KAUFMAN, DEBUTING MAY 28

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DIRECTED BY PHILIP KAUFMAN FROM A SCRIPT BY

JERRY STAHL AND BARBARA TURNER

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DAVID STRATHAIRN, RODRIGO SANTORO, MOLLY PARKER, PARKER POSEY,

SANTIAGO CABRERA, LARS ULRICH, SAVERIO GUERRA, PETER COYOTE,

JOAN CHEN AND TONY SHALHOUB ALSO STAR

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Peter Kaufman, Trish Hofmann, James Gandolfini,

Alexandra Ryan And Barbara Turner Executive Produce

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“We were good in war, and when there was no war, we made our own.”

– Martha Gellhorn

 

Academy Award® nominee andGolden Globe winner Clive Owen and Academy Award® and three-time Golden Globe winner Nicole Kidman star in the title roles of HBO Films’ HEMINGWAY & GELLHORN, under the direction of Academy Award® nominee Philip Kaufman. Kaufman directs from a script by Jerry Stahl and Barbara Turner.

Debuting MONDAY, MAY 28 (9:00-11:40 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO, HEMINGWAY & GELLHORN recounts one of the greatest romances of the last century – the passionate love affair and tumultuous marriage of literary master Ernest Hemingway and trailblazing war correspondent Martha Gellhorn – as it follows the adventurous writers through the Spanish Civil War and beyond. The combined magnetism of Hemingway and Gellhorn ushered them into social circles that included the elite of Hollywood, the aristocracy of the literary world and the First Family of the United States. As witnesses to history, they covered all the great conflicts of their time, but the war they couldn’t survive was the war between themselves.

Other HBO playdates: May 29 (3:15 p.m.) and June 2 (1:15 p.m.), 7 (2:00 p.m., 12:30 a.m.), 10 (4:30 p.m.), 11 (9:00 p.m., 4:20 a.m.), 15 (10:00 a.m.) and 19 (11:30 p.m.)

HBO2 playdates: June 4 (3:30 p.m.), 6 (10:15 a.m., 9:45 p.m.), 12 (3:15 p.m., 2:10 a.m.), 17 (10:35 a.m., 10:00 p.m.), 21 (1:15 p.m., 12:05 a.m.), 25 (11:00 a.m.) and 30 (3:35 p.m., 3:20 a.m.)

HEMINGWAY & GELLHORN also stars Academy Award® nominee David Strathairn (“Goodnight, and Good Luck,” HBO’s “Temple Grandin”), Rodrigo Santoro (“I Love You Philip Morris,” “300”), SAG Award nominee Molly Parker (“The Road,” HBO’s “Deadwood”), Golden Globe nominee Parker Posey (“Superman Returns,” “A Mighty Wind”), Santiago Cabrera (“Che: Part 1”), actor-musician Lars Ulrich (“Get Him to the Greek,” founding member of Metallica), Saverio Guerra (“Lucky You”), Emmy® nominee Peter Coyote (“Erin Brockovich,” “Law & Order: LA”), Joan Chen (“The Last Emperor”) and Emmy®  and Golden Globe winner Tony Shalhoub (“Monk,” HBO’s “Too Big to Fail”).

An HBO Films presentation of a film by Philip Kaufman, HEMINGWAY & GELLHORN is executive produced by Peter Kaufman (“Quills,” “Henry and June”), Trish Hofmann (“Notorious,” “The New World”), Emmy® winner James Gandolfini (HBO’s “Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq” and “Wartorn 1861-2010”), Emmy® nominee Alexandra Ryan (HBO’s “Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq”) and Emmy® nominee Barbara Turner (“Petulia,” “Pollock”).

Nancy Sanders (“Huff”) and Mark Armstrong (“Holla If You Hear Me”) are co-executive producers. The production team includes three-time Academy Award®-winning editor Walter Murch (“The English Patient,” “Apocalypse Now”), director of photography Rogier Stoffers (“Quills,” “John Q”), Academy Award®-nominated production designer Geoffrey Kirkland (“The Right Stuff,” “Angela’s Ashes”) and Academy Award®-nominated costume designer Ruth Myers (“The Painted Veil,” “L.A. Confidential”).

 

SYNOPSIS

1936: Ernest Hemingway [Clive Owen] falls under the spell of the beautiful novelist and assured magazine writer Martha Gellhorn [Nicole Kidman] when he first meets her in Sloppy Joe’s, a bar in Key West, Fla. They meet again in Spain, when she persuades a friend at Collier’s Weekly to give her credentials as a special correspondent, covering the Spanish Civil War and the attempt by Franco and the Fascists, with the aid of Hitler and Mussolini, to overthrow the democratically elected government. Hemingway has left behind his wife, Pauline [Molly Parker], and their two sons in Key West and has come to Spain to help his friends Joris Ivens [Lars Ulrich], John Dos Passos [David Strathairn] and Robert Capa [Santiago Cabrera] shoot the documentary “The Spanish Earth,” about the struggle to defeat Fascism. Gellhorn joins them.

Hemingway watches over and tutors Gellhorn, as the fledgling reporter discovers her voice and learns from him the essence of the Hemingway code of behavior: honor, courage, bravery and endurance in a life of stress, misfortune and pain. In short, grace under pressure. To Hemingway, having these qualities makes a man become a man and proves his worth. Gellhorn comes to embody these principles, perhaps even outdoing Hemingway. In a crucial situation where Gellhorn evidences her heroism, Hemingway is prompted to say, “She is the bravest woman I ever saw.”

Back from the war, Hemingway and Gellhorn settle in Cuba, where she finds the run-down villa Finca Vigia. There they begin a new life together.

Hemingway writes “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” which he dedicates to Gellhorn. When Collier’s offers her a job to cover the Russian invasion of Finland, Hemingway wants her to stay, but Gellhorn feels she must go and bear witness to the world’s upheaval. She later wrote, “I followed the war wherever I could reach it.”

Gellhorn longs to return to Hemingwayand in their passionate correspondences the two of them vow that they will never leave each other again. She arrives home to find her beloved Finca Vigia in total disarray, strewn with Hemingway’s hangers-on. But a surprise awaits her as Hemingway proudly displays signed divorce papers from Pauline. Gellhorn, who never asked to be married, consents to becoming his third wife.

As the Japanese invade China, Gellhorn is offered an assignment to do an interview with the most powerful political couple in the world: Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek [Larry Tse] and the “Empress of China,” Madame Chiang [Joan Chen]. After some cajoling by Gellhorn to look at it as a paid honeymoon, Hemingway reluctantly agrees to accompany her. While there, Hemingway and Gellhorn are taken blindfolded by boat to a secret meeting with Communist leader Chou En-lai [Anthony Brandon Wong], whom they find impressive and believe to be the wave of the future.

They report their findings to Gellhorn’s old friends, President Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, and the State Department swiftly brands Hemingway and Gellhorn “fellow travelers.” Hemingway is deeply stung by the charge of being unpatriotic and becomes increasingly agitated. Back in Cuba, Hemingway arms his boat, the Pilar, to patrol the Caribbean for Nazi U-boats, while carousing with his cronies. Gellhorn is restless, feeling isolated from the world-shaking events she longs to be a part of. They quarrel frequently. Hemingway wants a stay-at-home wife to share his bed, while she realizes that the greatest enemy of marriage is boredom. Gellhorn wants to cover the impending Allied invasion in Europe, but Hemingway selfishly compromises her assignment from Collier’s. Their marriage falls apart.

With no official press credential, the ever-resourceful Gellhorn manages to talk her way onto a hospital ship bound for Omaha Beach, becomes a stowaway and, disguised as a nurse, is among the first reporters on shore during the historic D-Day landing.

Meanwhile, in a London pub, Hemingwaymeets a woman named Mary Welsh [Parker Posey]. A drunken car accident lands him in the hospital and Gellhorn is called back from the front in France. She arrives to find a bandaged Hemingway entertaining his friends, with Welsh cozied up to him on his hospital bed. Hemingway asks Gellhorn sarcastically, “What are you doing here?” She responds, “I guess I just stopped by for a divorce.”

 

“I want to be myself and alone and free to breathe, live, look upon the world and find it however it is...I want my own name back, most violently, as if getting it back would give me some of myself...And do not worry and do not feel badly. We are, basically, two tough people and we were born to survive.”

 

Martha Gellhorn

 

“If two people love each other, there can be no happy end to it.”

 

                – Ernest Hemingway

         

Hemingway’s life rapidly accelerated into paranoia and depression. Prior to his suicide in 1961, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Following Hemingway’s death, history seemed to forget Gellhorn. She was relegated to being “the third Mrs. Hemingway,” a mere footnote in the great writer’s life. Undeterred, Gellhorn continued to cover all the major world conflicts, from the Dachau concentration camp, to the Vietnam War, the Six-Day War in the Middle East, the civil wars in Central America and, finally, at age 81, the U.S. invasion of Panama. She did not listen to “official drivel” and told the truth as she saw it. She was a pioneer. As the London Daily Telegraph wrote, Gellhorn was “one of the great war correspondents of the century; brave, fierce and wholly committed to the truth of the situation.”

 

CODA

Following Gellhorn’s death in 1998, noted writer and editor Bill Buford wrote, “Martha was passionate, glamorous and exciting. She was hugely entertaining. She was motivated by a deep-hearted, deep-seated concern for justice; she was a friend of the dispossessed, the oppressed, the neglected…Gellhorn was blonde and thin and sassy, a starlet of the highest order, a young Lauren Bacall…There was a glamour about Martha Gellhorn, the glamour of black-and-white movies. It was in her manner and her way with the ways of the world. She was a dame…and she was a good writer.”

Gellhorn’s remarkable contributions and pioneering efforts anticipated such reporters as Christiane Amanpour, Lara Logan and the late Marie Colvin, who died recently in war-torn Syria. Colvin, who has been called “the Martha Gellhorn of her time,” narrated the 2003 BBC documentary “Martha Gellhorn: On the Record.”

In addition to her war reporting, Gellhorn wrote numerous books, including “The Face of War” and “Travels with Myself and Another,” an account of her solo travels and her trip to China with Hemingway.

The year after her death, the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism was established to award journalists “whose work has penetrated the established version of events and told an unpalatable truth that exposes establishment propaganda.” In 2008, Gellhorn was honored by the United States Postal Service with a first-class postage stamp.

 

ABOUT THE PRODUCTION

Director Philip Kaufman and executive producer Peter Kaufman became involved with HEMINGWAY & GELLHORN nine years ago. “I’m not really interested in making any film just for the sake of getting something made,” the director explains. “For me, it’s always been about having an adventure, falling in love, committing totally to something, for however many years.”

Executive producers Alex Ryan and Barbara Turner developed Turner’s script with the Kaufmans, ultimately bringing it to James Gandolfini, who became a producer and champion of the film, and brought it to HBO. Writer Jerry Stahl was then enlisted to further develop the screenplay.

Explains Ryan, “I was moved by the inextinguishable spirit of this woman who, despite her success, seemed to be relegated to live in Hemingway’s shadow, and I felt that many people could relate to Martha’s battles on and off the field.”

The passion with which Kaufman approached this story was due, in large part, to the passion within the story itself. “With Hemingway and Gellhorn, we have two strong, bright, sexy people who are filled with vigor and energy and competitiveness,” Kaufman says. “We have moments of heightened passion, of idealism, of beauty, of heroism and tragedy.”

To executive producer Peter Kaufman, the film is about “the passionate and turbulent love story between one of the world’s most famous novelists and one of the greatest war correspondents of the last century. It’s about the battle of the sexes, the battle with their inner demons, and the battle for freedom of the individual against the rise of Fascism all over the world at this time.”

“Martha Gellhorn is really the discovery of our film,” says director Kaufman. “Hemingway is legendary, but few people know of Gellhorn and the successful career she had after their marriage – being considered, by many, the greatest war correspondent of the 20th century.”

Adds executive producer Trish Hofmann, “I think this film is reminiscent of movies from the past with its romance and suspenseful drama, but the elements of the story are still very applicable today. Martha Gellhorn paved the way for modern women, showing that they can hold their own in a male-dominated arena, and are welcomed there, as well.”

Says Nicole Kidman, “Women like Martha Gellhorn were trailblazers who did things that weren’t the norm; who changed what professions women could aspire to; who changed the world. I think I’ll always seek out those women to play them, if given the chance.”

Faced with the challenge of portraying real people, both Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen came to the table prepared.

Kidman’s upbringing seems to have laid the groundwork for her portrayal of Martha Gellhorn. “I came from a strong, feminist mother who wanted her girls to go out into the world and take a bite out of it,” she explains. “I’m drawn to those women who do that, and Martha was definitely one of them. When you do a film that is based on a real person, it’s not a case of mimicking them or emulating them, it’s actually just trying to find their essence, their core and trying to bring some form of them through me to the screen.”

Owen had not read Hemingway extensively when the screenplay was presented to him. Instantly taken by the story and the role, he knew that considerable preparation and research would be necessary to portray such an iconic figure. “You can’t play somebody like Hemingway and treat it like you do every other film,” he says. “I just immersed myself for eight months with everything Hemingway – everything he wrote, everything that was written about him. I visited Madrid, Paris and Cuba. I saw all the places he went and lived.”

Discussing the role of Hemingway, Kaufman refers to one of his earlier films, observing, “ ‘The Right Stuff’ was about heroic men and grace under pressure, a concept originated by Hemingway. Clive Owen seemed to embody that quality.”

Kidman and Owen worked closely with world-renowned dialogue coach Tim Monich, perfecting the distinctive voices of their characters by listening to and watching hours of archival tapes of Hemingway and Gellhorn.

HEMINGWAY & GELLHORN was shot entirely on location in and around San Francisco, where various parts of the city and its surroundings – Oakland, Livermore and Marin County – were used to represent Key West, Spain, China, Cuba, Finland, New York, London and Germany.

Says director Kaufman, “I knew I wanted to make this film in San Francisco because, of all the cities in the world, San Francisco had the most variable kinds of locations that could be molded and transformed into what I was looking for. I know this city. And there’s so much talent here, so many wonderful locations. The crews, the extras, the atmosphere, the food and the city’s cooperation all make it a great place to film.”

In addition, Kaufman tapped San Francisco-based visual effects supervisor Chris Morley and Tippett Studios to help expand on the kinds of visual techniques used years before in his films “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and “The Right Stuff.” Through the magic of Morley, Tippett, editor and sound designer Walter Murch and the entire production team, Kaufman was able to “nest” his characters into actual archival footage, using recently developed enhanced digital effects.

Murch, Kaufman’s long-time collaborator, notes, “This was a film with a huge number of moving parts, like a very complicated machine. It has all the scope and breadth and challenges that a feature film has, but done in less time on a smaller budget. Plus, there’s the artistic and technical challenge of using the archival footage and finding ways to get into that historic world and integrating our actors into it, going in and out of color and grained imagery, wanting those transitions to be both visceral and unnoticeable, to look and feel very natural.”

 
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