Neil Jordan and his producer/partner Stephen Woolley are unquestionably the hottest indies in Hollywood today. They have negotiated a deal with Columbia for “The End of the Affair” and are listening to offers for “Jonathan Wild,” in addition to signing with Geffen Films for Anne Rice’s “Interview With the Vampire.”
“With ‘The Crying Game’ doing so well, we’re getting a lot of offers. But I made a rule to myself not be a director for hire,” Jordan told Daily Variety. “That’s what was so attractive about David’s (Geffen) offer; to shape the script and then make the film. To get a complete vision.”
“It’s one of the few situations where I could work comfortably in Hollywood,” Jordan said.
The vampire film, to be distributed by Warner Bros., will be the eighth feature Jordan and Woolley have worked on together in various capacities, and both agree it will most resemble what Jordan calls “the imaginative gothic genre ,” their own dark fantasy film “In the Company of Wolves.”
The sought-after writer/director said he has given himself four to six weeks to rewrite Anne Rice’s “novelist draft.”
“I’m going to go back to the book and add things that I think will be beneficial to the movie,” Jordan said. “I want to make Anne Rice’s book with all its complexity and sense of unease, romanticism and passion. It’s not (only) a homoerotic thing but does merge the darkness of vampire tales with the sensuality.”
Pic will be budgeted around $ 26 million. “If it was a $ 40 million budget, I wouldn’t be interested,” Jordan said, adding they hope to be shooting by July in Paris, followed by soundstage work in London.
“Brad Pitt wants to play Lewis,” David Geffen said in a separate interview, and “Neil is going to meet Daniel Day-Lewis in Ireland, and hopefully he will be Lestat. We’ll probably go with an unknown for (9-year-old) Claudia.”
Jordan and Woolley were planning to fly back to London yesterday, but have stayed over to finish negotiations on the two pre-vampire projects.
At press time, Woolley said negotiations hadn’t been inked with Columbia on “The End of the Affair.” However, Jordan added: “For two or three years I’ve been asking them to get my hands on (Graham Greene’s novel) and I think they’ve finally said yes.”
What fascinates him is that “it’s the most extreme example of male jealousy ever,” but it’s not violent.
“It will be a big-budget production shot in Europe. It will be done through a negative pick-up deal in London,” with Columbia distributing, per Woolley.
And finally, there’s “Jonathan Wild,” which Jordan calls “an 18th-century British gangster film about two historical gangsters. John is the modern criminal mastermind and Jack Shepard” is Wild’s sidekick. Jordan notes that in “The Beggar’s Opera,” the character MacHeath was based on the infamous Wild.
Writer Don McPherson has been working on a script for three years. “I’ve been working on it with Don for the past year or so, and Don is going to do the final rewrite over the next year.”
Asked how they felt being the toast of the town and whether they could lose their accustomed control by working with studios, Woolley focused on their teamwork.
“Neil and I have worked well together. Neil is coming from literature and theater as well as film, so I’ve been able to produce films of his (six) that I’m proud of.”