×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Toronto: Paul Haggis On Why the Reception to ‘Third Person’ Might Echo ‘Crash’

Romancer premiered Monday night at the Elgin

Oscar winner Paul Haggis isn’t pulling his punches about the anticipated reaction to his romancer “Third Person,” which premiered Monday night at the Toronto Film Festival.

“People are going to either love it or hate it, like ‘Crash,'” Haggis told Variety. “A lot of people want their movies to be easily understood, underlined and in bold. I want people to talk about this movie afterwards. As an industry, we need to respect the audience more.”

The premiere at the Elgin evoked sustained applause for the complex drama of three intertwined relationships:  James Franco and Mila Kunis in New York; Liam Neeson and Olivia Wilde in Paris; and Adrien Brody and Moran Atias in Rome.

Haggis began writing the film after completing work on “The Next Three Days,” drawing largely from his own life with an emphasis on the themes of denial, loss and love. He began shooting in January with a 45-day shoot, adding, “It was a healthy budget for an indie but a little uncomfortable.”

He said that keeping the storyline complex was spurred partly by the ambiguity in such films as Michaelangelo Antonioni’s “Blow-Up” — particularly the ending, in which David Hemmings realizes that he may not have actually witnessed a murder.

Popular on Variety

“I like films that make you think,” Haggis adds.

Haggis directed from his own script and produced “Third Person” with Paul Bruels of the Belgian financier Corsan, which is selling the film at Toronto. “I’m not under the gun because we’re not dealing with paying back a bank,” he noted. “We’re just looking for who will handle the film best.”

It’s the third time that Haggis has premiered a film at Toronto. “Crash” screened at the Elgin in 2004 and “In the Valley of Elah” opened there in 2007.

Haggis was nominated for screenwriting Oscars for three straight years for “Million Dollar Baby,” “Crash,” and “Letters From Iwo Jima.” He won screenplay and picture Oscars for “Crash.”

Haggis approached the challenge of writing three stories by doing them one at a time and then mixing and matching the components — with much of that work done in the editing process and in small screenings earlier this year.

He was fullsome in his praise for the actors noting that Israel-born Atias learned to speak Albanian for the part of a gypsy and that Franco had offered to do whichever part Haggis wanted. “He told me, ‘I don’t care, you choose,” Haggis recalled.

Bruels came on board in May 2012 when Neeson and Wilde were attached.

“I think that Paul Haggis is such a great writer that good cast is automatically attracted. And who does not like shooting in Rome?” he said. “When you have Paul, you are the master of your own destiny.”

Corsan got 50% of the funding through the Belgian tax credits, which require spending money on Belgian elements like development, crew and post-production. “Having that is a formidable cornerstone for the rest of your financing,’ Breuls added.

Haggis noted that “Third Person” was not as difficult to complete as “Crash.”

“Nobody knew who I was so I couldn’t get anyone to do it until Don Cheadle came on. I only had 35 days and I pretty much had to use what I had shot.”

More Film

  • ‘Gravedigger,’ ‘Zanka Contact,’ ‘Sweet Annoyance’ Win

    ‘The Gravedigger,’ ‘Zanka Contact’ and ‘Sweet Annoyance’ Win Top Prizes at 2nd Atlas Workshops

    Djibouti’s “The Gravedigger,” Morocco’s “Zanka Contact” and Ethiopia’s “Sweet Annoyance” were among the major winners in the post-production and development categories of the second edition of the Marrakech Film Festival’s Atlas Workshops. “The Gravedigger,” by Khadar Ahmed, and “Zanka Contact,” by Ismaël el Iraki, won the top awards – €20,000 ($22,000) and $11,000 respectively – [...]

  • Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and

    Film News Roundup: Leonardo DiCaprio Presenting Robert De Niro SAG Life Achievement Award

    In today’s film news roundup, Leonardo DiCaprio will present Robert De Niro with his SAG Life Achievement Award, the Oliver Sacks documentary finds a home and UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television gets a new dean. AWARD PRESENTATION Leonardo DiCaprio has been selected to present Robert De Niro the SAG Life Achievement Award  at [...]

  • KARNAWAL

    ‘Karnawal,’ ‘Restless,’ ‘Summer White,’ ‘Firsts’ Win Big at Ventana Sur

    BUENOS AIRES  — With Ventana Sur now firing on multiple cylinders, featuring pix-in post or project competitions for not only art films but also genre pics and animation – two sectors embraced by young creators in Latin America – “Karnawal,” “Restless,” “Summer White” and  “Firsts” proved big winners among Ventana Sur’s arthouse and animation competitions, [...]

  • (center) George MacKay as Schofield in

    From "1917" to "Jojo Rabbit," Composers of Some of the Year's Top Scores Talk Shop

    “1917,” Thomas Newman The 20-year collaboration of director Sam Mendes and composer Thomas Newman has encompassed midlife crisis (“American Beauty”), crime in the Depression (“Road to Perdition”), the Gulf War (“Jarhead”), marriage in the 1950s (“Revolutionary Road”) and two James Bond adventures (“Skyfall,” “Spectre”). Now they’ve tackled World War I, with “1917,” but Mendes’ much-talked-about [...]

  • Billy Magnussen Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Spinoff With Billy Magnussen's Character in the Works for Disney Plus

    Disney is developing a spinoff of its live-action “Aladdin” with Billy Magnussen reprising his Prince Anders character. The unnamed project is in early development for the studio’s recently launched Disney Plus streaming service. Disney has hired Jordan Dunn and Michael Kvamme to write a script centered on the haughty Prince Anders, one of Princess Jasmine’s [...]

  • ROAD TRIP – In Disney and

    Disney Boasts a Bevy of Hopefuls for Oscar's Original Song Race

    When the Academy announces its shortlist for song nominations on Dec. 16, you can be certain that at least one Disney song will be on it and probably more. Disney songs have been nominated 33 times in the past 30 years, winning 12 of the gold statuettes. This year, the studio has at least four [...]

  • Innovative Scores Elevated the Year's Documentaries

    Innovative Scores Elevated the Year's Documentaries

    It’s next to impossible for a documentary score to be Oscar-nominated alongside the dozens of fictional narratives entered each year. But it did happen, just once: In 1975, composer Gerald Fried was nominated for his music for “Birds Do It, Bees Do It,” a documentary on the mating habits of animals. Fried, now 91, perhaps [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content