Ed Harris has struck a deal to co-produce and star in a motion picture based on the life of artist Jackson Pollock.
Harris will co-produce the venture with James Trezza of Trezza Entertainment. The duo are looking to sign a writer for the project within the next month or two, basing the script on the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography “Jackson Pollock: An American Saga,” written by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith.
“My dad worked at the ChicagoArt Institute and he was the first one to get me interested in Pollock,” Harris said.
Harris originally read a galley of the Naifeh/Smith book, and then contacted Trezza after learning he had bought the film rights.
The actor said he was attracted to Pollock’s life because he “was a great artist, a tormented soul.”
“He fought very hard to find a way to express himself that was unique and his own,” Harris said. “He was unsuccessful for a long time and he suffered from a severe drinking problem.”
Part of what is unique in this Pollock biography is its exploration of the artist’s marriage to Lee Krasner, an artist in her own right.
“I believe their relationship will be a big part of the movie,” he said.
Harris has started to take the reins as a producing entity — he’s set to co-produce the Murray Mednick play “Scar” when it makes it to the big screen under the Laurel Entertainment banner. Plans are for Harris — who starred in the play when it ran in an Equity waiver house in Los Angeles — and his wife, Amy Madigan, to star.
Harris also has an option with Neil Koenigsberg on Carl Hiaasen’s comic novel “Native Tongue,” and is currently writing a screenplay based on the book.
He and Madigan are also involved in other projects: They recently had a daughter, Lily Dolores, now 6 weeks old.
“Sometimes I wish I had been more aggressive earlier in my career, but for the past 10 years I’ve been doing what’s available,” he said. “I finally figured out that in order to do what I want, I’d have to do it on my own.”
While Harris had nothing to do with the recent “Boxing Helena” trial, pitting actress Kim Basinger against Main Line Pictures, he had initially been in a pay-or-play deal with Main Line to star in the film. “I admire Jennifer (Lynch, the film’s writer and director) and Carl (Mazzocone, prexy of Main Line) for their stick-to-it-tiveness,” Harris said. “In terms of the situation for Kim, I thought there was some justification for how it (the trial) turned out although I’m not sure about the award.”
Main Line won an $ 8.92 million judgment against Basinger, which was later lowered to $ 7.4 million. The actress has since declared bankruptcy.
“I stayed with the project through Madonna and Kim, and then finally I had to move on,” he said. “But I like Jennifer, I liked the script a lot. I kind of wish the producers hadn’t gone in so much for the star name and had just picked a good actress.”