Hollywood’s highest-profile producers showered gratitude on stars like Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey and Brad Pitt at the annual Producers Guild of America breakfast panel on January 18 at the Landmark Theatre in West LA.
Moderated by Gary Lucchesi and occurring a day before the PGA Awards at the Beverly Hilton, the panel of 10 producers — one from each film nominated for the PGA’s Darryl F. Zanuck Award — offered insight as to why his or her film succeeded.
“You can’t get more apple pie and white picket fence than Tom Hanks,” Alison Owens said of the decision to cast Hanks as Walt Disney in “Saving Mr. Banks.”
Michael De Luca credited Hanks for pulling off the memorable scene in “Captain Phillips” where his character is writing a letter to his spouse, adding, “I’m choking up right now.”
Emma Koskoff said McConaughey’s early scene with Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Wolf of Wall Street” ranked as her favorite, adding that “it’s going to go down as one of all-time Martin Scorsese scenes.”
“12 Years a Slave” producer Dede Gardner credited longtime producing partner Pitt with providing the essential support to get the drama to the finish line — including taking a small part in the film.
“Brad said ‘whatever it takes,'” she recalled. “He had not done a cameo in 25 years.”
“Dallas Buyers Club” producer Robbie Brenner received the loudest applause at the event when she explained that McConaughey and the entire cast and crew had pushed through a challenging 25-day shoot.
“It was all hand held cameras, no lights, no grips, no rehearsal … no craft service,” she said.
“Blue Jasmine’s” Letty Aronson singled out Andrew Dice Clay for delivering a “perfect” performance, despite not having feature film experience.
“Nebraska” producer Albert Berger said local actors provided exceptional work, adding, that “the actor who was Bernie Bowen had to skip dialysis.”
In response to a question about test screenings, Gardner said that”12 Years a Slave” delivered strong results at a trio of showings, adding, “it was an indication that people were ready for this film.
But “Gravity” producer David Heyman admitted that the single test screening of the film when it was far from completion had gone poorly, so “we didn’t do another.”
Owen elicited laughs when she said she should receive a prize for “stupidest” development for not having Disney on board when she started work on “Saving Mr. Banks.” “It’s like showing up to rob Fort Knox with a nail file and a toothbrush,” she added.
“Her” producer Spike Jonze also evoked laughter when asked about his favorite scene in his film. “I like the quaalude scene in ‘Wolf of Wall Street,'” he responded.