Scott Rudin has benefited from his reputation as a producer of high-toned literary properties and for allowing certain quirky filmmakers to go out on a creative limb. Since 2000, though, the year of “The Wonder Boys,” his career has been consistently marked by smart, complex dramas like “Iris,” “The Hours,” “Closer” and “The Queen” as well as challenging, highly personal statements by the likes of David O. Russell (“I Heart Huckabees”), Paul Thomas Anderson (“There Will Be Blood”) and all of Wes Anderson’s films dating back to “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001).
In “No Country for Old Men,” a property he sent to the Coen brothers the day he bought the rights to the Cormac McCarthy novel, the producer has hit unprecedented critical and commercial pay dirt. The film has received best picture accolades from more than a dozen critics organizations, including the New York Film Critics Circle, as well as a DGA award for the Coens, SAG awards for the cast and supporting player Javier Bardem, and a tie with “There Will Be Blood” for most Oscar noms (eight).
“One of the great things about playing into Academy season is that you’ve got a lot of other undecideds you hope to have the ability to convert,” says Rudin about all the kudos. “So the aggregate ends up being extremely meaningful.”
Auteur types like the Coens and the Andersons gravitate toward Rudin because of his mantra to create “the safest possible environment” for them to realize their visions. That’s not to say that they’re allowed so much rope that they hang themselves. “Since they ultimately are the final arbiter of what’s in the film, why would they possibly not be willing to engage in a conversation about what the movie is?” Rudin asks rhetorically. “The smartest ones are liberated enough by the controls to be collaborative, because in the end they know it’s their call.”
Among Rudin’s potential highlights for 2008: “Revolutionary Road,” an adaptation of the acclaimed Richard Yates novel starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Sam Mendes; “Doubt,” which writer-director John Patrick Shanley adopted from his own Tony- and Pulitzer-winning play with Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams in the leads; and “The Reader,” also with Winslet and Ralph Fiennes with a screenplay by David Hare and direction by Stephen Daldry (“The Hours”).