The making of a collapsed sci-fi movie set to star Bond girl Eva Green turned into a “Shakespearean farce”, the film’s producer has told the High Court in London.
Casino Royale actress Ms Green was due to play the lead role in dystopian thriller A Patriot, but the production was abandoned in October 2019.
The 42-year-old is now suing production company White Lantern Film, claiming she is entitled to her $1 million (£810,000) fee for the project despite its cancellation.
White Lantern Film is bringing a counterclaim against the French actress, alleging she undermined the independent film’s production, made “excessive creative and financial demands” and had expectations “incompatible” with the movie’s budget.
Max Mallin KC, for the production company, has claimed a “scheme” was devised between the actress, writer and director Dan Pringle and producer Adam Merrifield – allegedly described by the latter as “Operation Fake It!” – to secure her fee and make a separate film without the project’s lender involved.
However, on Thursday, the High Court in London heard from Mr Merrifield, who denied any scheme to undermine the production, saying his comment was a joke.
He said: “We had weeks and weeks of going to Black Hangar [the studios] and trying to make this film work.”
The producer said there was a plan to move to a new production structure, with Mr Merrifield leaving the film, but that it was unclear whether it had been put in place.
“At this point it had turned into some sort of Shakespearean farce,” he said, later adding: “There was nothing really to undermine.”
The court previously heard that while the film was originally due to be shot in Ireland, filming was later relocated to Black Hangar Studios outside London.
On Thursday, Harry Boyd – a first assistant director on the project who later resigned – said he visited the Hampshire studios around six weeks before the start of filming.
He told the court: “It was like a morgue. It should have been busier than this courtroom, with lots of people running around.”
In his written evidence, Mr Boyd – who has worked on projects including the Oscar-winning 2021 film Dune – said that he had only seen three or four crew members, who were working on another project.
“It was an aircraft hangar with leaks and no soundproofing,” he said, adding in his written evidence that he was “shocked” by the facilities.
Mr Boyd continued: “I was in no doubt that Black Hangar was not fit for the purpose of making a major motion picture. The facilities – costume, makeup, dressing rooms etc – were not at a suitable level or size for any team to work out of.”
Mr Mallin said to Mr Boyd that he did not visit the studio again and so did not know whether soundproofing had been done.
Mr Boyd replied: “It would be a hard thing to do in four weeks and very, very costly.”
The assistant director said the amount of work required to prepare for the production would have taken “eight weeks, at a push”, adding: “You can build a house in four weeks but it might fall down after two.”
Giving evidence on Tuesday, Ms Green said she did not want to work with executive producer Jake Seal and his team, but would not have broken her contract.
In texts used in White Lantern Film’s claim, Ms Green referred to Mr Seal as “evil” a “devious sociopath”, “pure vomit” and “a liar and a mad man”.
Mr Boyd, who has worked in film and television since 1990, told the court: “Having dealt with Mr Seal… I found him quite devious. I’ve been doing this a long time and you can smell the rats, as it were.
“I felt he wasn’t doing his job the way you would expect it to be done.”
The trial is expected to hear evidence from Ms Green’s agent on Friday, with a ruling in the case expected at a later date.