Crappy script has Brad Pitt walk from 'State of Play'

by Paul William Tenny

This is going to be a little controversial and will undoubtedly lead to somebody somewhere calling me an idiot, but I see this as a good thing. Of the movies that looked as if they had gotten their scripts into a shootable form before the Nov. 5 strike, a few came up just a little short, and we get word every few days now of another flick that just wasn't quite there yet and will have to be put on ice until the differences between the Writers Guild of America, and the Association of Motion Picture & Television Producers, is settled.

State Of Play has apparently fallen apart primarily because Brad Pitt didn't like the script, and now there isn't anybody that can change it. As a result of whatever came of that, he left the project. So why do I see this as a good thing? Potentially, it's at least one script that won't be screwed with because of outside interference that hasn't spent their entire career exploring the simple difference between better, and just plain different.
Let me clarify and expand on that so you understand that I have no ill feelings towards actors, and I appreciate anything that they, or any other party has to contribute positively to the writer in terms of what makes the script better. Most people just want to make it different, and it's the writers job to know the difference, and to be the expert on what is better and what is worse and what is simply different. Writers ought to be the ultimate judge of that as far as I'm concerned and it pisses me off as much as anyone to see people who don't understand these things walk all over what's already there with no concept of the havoc it will cause that will just have to be fixed by the writer who knew better than to do it in the first place.

Pitt may have had good things to suggest and he may have been right to walk away if the script genuinely did stink, but this is something that needs to happen more often. I would be thrilled to see acting talent start walking away from movies in greater numbers because their role has been reduced to advisory when it comes to the script, because that's the natural balance of things. Pitt didn't like what he saw, and he exercised what should be the default reaction when he couldn't get the changes that he personally wanted: he walked away.

It puts more pressure on writers to get it right the first time, and to be open to outside ideas, but it also allows them to share in greater responsibility when things don't work - and I'm doing anything but calling for all outside input to be blocked.

Rather than force changes and stepping all over somebody else's job, he walked. I happen to think that's great. He showed his principle by refusing to perform what he thought wasn't up to snuff, and the script - for better or for worse - didn't get fifty other fingerprints on it turning it into a mishmash of confusion.

Directors don't tolerate writers telling them how to block, actors don't want to be told how to emote, and writers shouldn't be told how to write. If you liked the script enough to buy it, then trust that the person who wrote it really does know what they are doing and let them live and die with it, just like everybody else gets to.
in Feature, Film


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