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Bruce Beresford / ‘Daisy’ chain


In 1989, Bruce Beresford received a call from Richard Zanuck to direct the film version of Alfred Uhry’s play “Driving Miss Daisy” – a two-person play that takes place mostly in an automobile. While Morgan Freeman had played the role of Hoke Colburn on stage, it was Zanuck’s idea to cast Jessica Tandy as Daisy Werthan. The film was shot in 34 days outside Atlanta. At the time, Tandy was over 80 years old. “She wasn’t well and we wanted to make the schedule comfortable,” says Beresford, “we made the film fantastically quick and Richard was a brilliant organizer in that.”

Breathing room: “I think Richard is the best producer, once he’s got you to direct. He lets you get on with the job and has a wonderful knack of bringing out the best in you. There are some producers who work behind your back. When they get you to direct, you feel they’d rather do it themselves. I’ve spent all my spare time answering their notes. I used to get 50-70 pages of typed notes and the producer would want answers to everything. Richard is a man of few words, but they’re all worth listing to. He’s very good on crewing… He’s got extremely good taste and backs you… he takes the attitude if you’re there to direct it, then you can direct. Every time I make another film, I say where you are now that I need you.”

Laconic: “Richard’s suggestions are simply put and sensible…when we were watching a cut, he said to me ‘a bit long in the middle.’ I turned to the editor and said ‘You know he’s right. There’s just something wrong.’ It’s amazing how Richard could pinpoint things. He didn’t bore you to death with crappy ideas.”

Hans across the water: “Hans Zimmer was suggested by Lili. She knew of this new composer who came from Germany. When one of the studio executives tried to criticize the score, Richard said ‘the music stays!’ and everyone just backed off.”

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