Douglas Team Gets It Right

Last Update: 03 April 2001

Source: Toronto Sun

29 March 2001

Actor, producer Kopelson on track with new thriller


Intensity becomes Michael Douglas. And it's a good thing, because he has to express it over and over again.

He's doing multiple takes of a confrontational scene in Don't Say A Word, shooting at a Scarborough factory.

In the Gary Fleder-directed action-thriller, Douglas plays a New York psychiatrist racing against the clock to
track down his kidnapped daughter before she gets killed.

For this particular sequence, Douglas' character is required to confront the kidnapper (Sean Bean) at a Bronx cemetery.

Through the magic of moviemaking, the sequence is neither in the Bronx nor outside, but at the corner of the huge industrial shed magically transformed into a dank and dark graveyard.

To get that outdoor effect, production workers constructed a virtual park from 4,000 tons of topsoil held in
place by cement blocks. More than 30 trees -- including four huge oaks -- were installed. They contain 12,000 brownish green silk leaves, which took the designers almost two weeks to wire onto the branches. Completing the dreary mood are mammoth vapour machines.

Even the 'been-there-done-that' producer Arnold Kopelson is impressed by the fake environment that surrounds Douglas as he huffs and puffs out vapour, resiliently tackling yet another go-through.

"I'm really amazed by what they accomplished," says Kopelson on a break away from the action.

As for Douglas and his single-minded focus, the producer isn't surprised at all.

"Michael is so versatile," agrees Kopelson. "But it's wonderful working with an actor who is also a producer and really knows what's going on and what's required."

Timing is on Kopelson's side, as well. Douglas comes to his role as a new dad.

"Certainly, to have a young baby," says Kopelson, "helps him in the reconstructing of the man out to save his daughter.

"But the part was always really right for him. It's his. He has that warmth and sensitivity, and vulnerability that makes you really root for him."

By fate or coincidence, Kopelson was pitching Don't Say A Word to Douglas when they shot Falling Down together eight years ago. Wisely, Kopelson had bought the rights -- for $250,000 of his own money -- to the Andrew Klavan novel of the same name a few years before.

"He looked at Don't Say A Word then," says Kopelson of Douglas, "and decided it was good, but the script
needed work."

So Kopelson refined it, but not before Douglas and Kopelson got together for A Perfect Murder in '99.

"Somehow, we navigated our way through it all and got it made," proudly reports Kopelson of the Don't Say A Word production as the feature nears its wrap.

Staying power, you see, is one of Arnold Kopelson's trademarks. It has been since he gave up his
entertainment lawyer business to go full-time into producing pictures nearly 30 years ago.

Since then, Kopelson-produced films -- more than 20 -- have earned over $2 billion. They include Eraser, Seven, Outbreak, The Fugitive and the Oscar-winning Platoon.

"It's all about passion and determination, getting the right material and making it right," he says, heading back toward the filming.

On set, the vigilant Kopelson watches a determined Douglas trying to get it just right -- over and over again.

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