One of Sundance’s 2003 highlights, "The Cooler" stars William H.Macy and Alec Baldwin in the story of one man, whose luck drastically changes after a Casino visit. CLINT MORRIS talks to the film’s Ex.producer, Brett Morrison of Gryphon Films about this, and the forthcoming – and much talked about -"Thunderhead".
Can you tell me a bit about THE COOLER?
"The Cooler" is a unique story about how a person’s luck can change under extreme circumstances. It’s got all the adult elements (violence, language, nudity, sex, drugs, gambling, prostitution) that you’d expect in a Vegas movie and a few new ones you haven’t seen in a while. It’s fun and I think it’s the kind of movie that you think about long after watching it.
It’s premiering at Sundance – do you feel confident it will find its audience?
I am very proud of this film. I think word of mouth will be strong for this one. The actor performances are exceptional and the story has a real sweet, genuine, heart to it.
What a superb cast – how did they become attached?
Everyone wants to work with Bill Macy. Bill loved the story and was impressed Wayne’s passion for telling it. Ed managed to convince him to do it. Bill was our first choice. Once we got him involved, and got Alec to play the character of Shelly everyone else came on board.
I imagine you’d all have spent a lot of time in Casinos by the end of this?
It was interesting to sit down and gamble in an open, operating casino in the middle of the night after shooting all day in a closed one. I think by the end of the shoot we were all happy to get away from casinos for a while. Lose, lose, lose is the mantra of the casino. If you win, you’re bad for business.
Brett, hearing a lot about "Thunderhead" could you tell me about that – any dream casting for it?
Thunderhead is an "archeological thriller" about an exploration to find the ruins of an ancient lost city in Utah. It’s a thriller that has some deep, complex characters that will engage you throughout. There’s a role for a strong female lead to play Nora Kelly, who’s been part of several books the authors have written. We’re currently writing the script and I think once we’re finished that we’ll have a good sense of our ideal cast.
How do two computer-worldy businessmen end up in film?
I think it’s important to constantly re-invent yourself during your life. There’s no rule that you have to do the same thing for your entire career. Entertainment is interesting and challenging. Like all businesses, it has risks, but there’s also reward if you make some smart decisions and have a little luck. The technical aspects of filmmaking have come very easy to me because of my tech background. The business side is something you learn with experience.
What do you say to audiences to allure them to The Cooler?
If you want to see a unique story, sharp direction, mesmerizing music, and fantastic acting, this film is for you.
What’s next for both of you? (Robert Gryphon & Brett)
We’ve got a few movies on the front burner in addition to "Thunderhead". "Steele’s Island" is a sci-fi thriller set in the future, where nanotechnology changes the world around you. "Driver’s Ed" is a hilarious comedy about a driving school for all ages.
THE COOLER Commences January 2003 at the Sundance Film Festival