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Walsh: Finds his ‘Way’ into a new career

10 Producers to Watch 2011: Kevin Walsh

Getting thrown out of a car by Scott Rudin on a London highway has its benefits.

“I don’t know what you’ve heard about Scott, but every story is true,” jokes one-time Rudin assistant Kevin Walsh, who characterizes his time spent with the mercurial producer as a tremendous learning opportunity. “But for every story you read about how bad he is, how tough he is, it’s never printed how witty he is. He does have a sense of humor. I love him for what he taught me and what he opened up for me.”

Walsh launched his showbiz career as an assistant to music mogul Tommy Mottola before seguing to the Rudin post.

“Four assistants got fired ahead of me,” recalls the Lafayette College grad of his first days on the job, which included Rudin ripping a fax out of the wall and hurling it across a room. “I went from fifth assistant to first assistant within six or seven weeks.”

The Boston native parlayed his stint working with Rudin on seven films including “The Hours” and “The Royal Tenenbaums” into a writing career, setting up a number of projects around town including “The Leaves,” based on his original comicbook, at Summit.

But he soon came to the conclusion that the scribe life wasn’t for him.

“I felt like I was putting a square peg in a round hole trying to be a writer,” says Walsh. “I’ve discovered in the past three years that I’m a natural producer. The two intersect because I love to sit down with writers and figure out a story.”

But it took more false starts before Walsh fully committed to producing. He dabbled with the idea of helming, and landed a series of assistant director gigs working directly behind Steven Spielberg on “War of the Worlds,” “Munich” and the upcoming “The Adventures of Tintin.” Walsh even inadvertently nabbed a plum acting role when he attended a wedding in which helmer Paul Thomas Anderson officiated as minister. Anderson liked Walsh’s retro looks and cast him in his upcoming period drama “The Master.”

When Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s hot screenplay “The Way, Way Back” came due a year ago, Walsh pounced. The coming-of-age dramedy, which was set up at Mandate Pictures with Principato-Young and Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps producing, attracted a number of big-name actors and directors including Levy, Tom Bezucha and Alexander Payne. Walsh persuaded Groundlings alums Faxon and Rash, who also penned Payne’s “The Descendants,” to direct. The producer is now in talks with Jake Gyllenhaal to star.

Walsh also is producing the political action-thriller “Patriot Down” at New Regency. CAA is out to Tom Hanks to star in the pic that kicks off when Air Force One gets shot down over Pakistan and the president finds himself on the run.

Walsh rounds out his upcoming producing slate with the revenge thriller “The Gringo,” with James McTeigue directing, and “King Dom,” penned by “The Break-Up” scribe Jay Lavender.

“All of the other career incarnations helps make me a better producer,” Walsh says.

Jason Michael Berman | Borderline Films | Tyler Davidson & Sophia Lin | James Gay-Rees | Lawrence Inglee |

Red Granite Pictures | Laura Rister | Jonathan Schwartz | Diarmid Scrimshaw | Kevin Walsh

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