Eye on the Oscars: Best Picture - 'The Help'
Chris Columbus, Brunson Green
Writer-director Tate Taylor has known “The Help” novelist Kathryn Stockett since they were 5, Green says, “And she hoped if a movie was made from her novel, Tate would direct. I optioned it for Tate, and he spent 14 months writing his first draft.” Columbus adds, “I had been following Tate’s career. I asked him what he’d like to do as his first big Hollywood movie and he handed me the manuscript. It was a challenging adaptation, but when he showed me the screenplay, he had turned a difficult cinematic task into a really wonderful movie.”
“I first gave the manuscript to Participant Media because it seemed like a good fit for their company. They met Tate and told us, ‘No matter where it lands, we want to be a part of it,’” Green says. Columbus: “We took it to a lot of people. Some passed. John Williams had given Steven Spielberg the book. Steven told me, ‘If you actively produce the film on set every day, we’ll make the movie.’”
“Tate was an unknown director making a period film about civil rights, full of women,” Green says. “People understandably wanted to make it for a certain price. But we didn’t want to limit ourselves.”
“Tate and I have been friends with Octavia Spencer and Allison Janney for 18 years,” Green says. “Tate wrote the parts of Minnie and Charlotte for them and it was non-negotiable. Every time we’d have a meeting, he’d say, ‘Just so you know, the parts of Minnie and Charlotte are already taken.’”