"Edge of Darkness" is an emotionally charged thriller set at the intersection of politics and big business. Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson) is a veteran homicide detective for the Boston Police Department and a single father. When his only child, 24-year-old Emma (Bojana Novakovic), is murdered on the steps of his home, everyone assumes that he was the target. But he soon suspects otherwise, and embarks on a mission to find out about his daughter's secret life and her killing. His investigation leads him into a dangerous, looking-glass world of corporate cover-ups, government collusion and murder--and to shadowy government operative Darius Jedburgh (Ray Winstone), who has been sent in to clean up the evidence. Craven's solitary search for answers about his daughter's death transforms into an odyssey of emotional discovery and redemption.
"Edge of Darkness" is directed by Martin Campbell ("Casino Royale"). A GK Films Production based on the BAFTA Award-winning BBC miniseries of the same name, it is produced by Academy Award winner Graham King ("The Departed") and his business partner, Tim Headington ("The Young Victoria"), and Michael Wearing, the producer of the original BBC miniseries. The screenplay is by Academy Award-winning screenwriter William Monahan ("The Departed") and Andrew Bovell ("Lantana"), based on the original television series written by Troy Kennedy Martin. .
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
In the thriller "Edge of Darkness," Thomas Craven is a man driven by grief and searching for the truth after his only child, Emma, is gunned down by a bullet the police believe was meant for him. Shattered by his daughter's sudden death, the veteran Boston police officer is looking for answers and will take on--or take down--anything or anyone in who stands in his way.
Mel Gibson, returning to the screen after a highly successful period behind the camera, takes on the part of Craven, his first starring role in seven years. "It was an intriguing story," says Gibson. "That's the main thing--if I think it'll be compelling and entertaining to an audience, I'm on board."
"Mel was our first and only choice for Craven. The part called for someone of his calibre; there aren't a lot of actors who have the kind of gravitas that he has," says the film's director, Martin Campbell.
Producer Graham King states, "We really wanted Mel, and so I said to Bill Monahan, 'Think of Mel Gibson and write for Mel Gibson.' This was the first time I'd ever asked a writer to write with an actor in mind. We were so lucky to get him back in front of the camera and in a role he's just perfect for."
"What really grabbed me was how the story sneaks up on you," offers Gibson. The actor met with King and Campbell and felt they were "two clever guys who had a clear and smart vision of the movie, and I knew it would be great working with them."
In a rather unusual turn of events, Campbell has now directed "Edge of Darkness" not once but twice, taking on the feature film after first directing the award-winning BBC television miniseries more than 20 years ago. Based on the success of the series, BBC Films had begun developing a feature version of the story; it was Campbell who brought the project to the attention of King who, along with Tim Headington, produced the film under the GK Films banner. "Someone suggested the possibility of making it into a film about five years ago," recalls the director. "I thought it was a great idea. I've always felt it was a very powerful story: a father loses his daughter and goes on a journey of discovery not only to find out who killed her and why, but also who she really was. He's someone who loved his daughter, and thought he understood her, but what he discovers is that she was involved in a whole way of life that he knew nothing about."
"I responded emotionally to the father/daughter storyline," Oscar-winning screenwriter William Monahan offers. "I have a young daughter so I basically put myself in the shoes of the protagonist, and asked what I would do if this happened to me."
In 1985, the six-part British miniseries captivated a country in the throes of intense domestic and international tensions. It was a time in Britain of an ongoing Cold War and the still-looming nuclear threat of the then Soviet Union. International terrorism also took shape in figures such as Libya's Colonel Muammar Qadaffi, and public concerns over nuclear war were higher than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis. And there was trepidation over the aura of secrecy surrounding the nuclear industry.
In this atmosphere, "Edge of Darkness" struck a nerve with the public's concerns and fears, resulting in the show becoming a popular and critical sensation. Accolades soon followed in the form of six British Academy of Film & Television Awards (BAFTA), including Best Drama/Series. The series placed 15th on the British Film Institute's Top 100 Television list, and is regarded as one of the best and most influential pieces of British television drama ever made.
Gibson remembers, "It was a mystery, a crime thriller, and a political thriller, and it was set in a time in the UK when there was a lot of political unrest. The series reflected its time very well."
"The series in the '80s had very much to do with the government's nuclear policy," says Campbell. "Plutonium and the manufacturing of plutonium were big issues, as well as the body that monitored them. It was a hot potato. And 'Edge of Darkness' was a series very relevant to those important issues. But at its center, it also was a story about a father who loses his daughter and needs to find out why this happened to her, and to him."
For the feature film, the political aspects of the story would have to be updated, but the heart of the picture would stay the same. Award-winning Australian writer Andrew Bovell initiated the process of transforming the six-hour series, written by Troy Kennedy Martin, into a two-hour motion picture.
"I was a great fan of the miniseries when it first screened," recalls Bovell. "Troy Kennedy Martin was really ahead of his time; his warning about the dangerous nexus between corporate industry and covert government operations is as relevant now as it was in 1985. Martin Campbell's invitation to work on the adaptation was one of the most exciting--and daunting-- offers I had ever had. The greatest challenge was to balance a complex plot with the emotional depth of the father-daughter relationship. The update not only required a crucial shift in length, from six hours to two, but a shift in culture as well, from the 1980s to 2010 and from Cold War Britain to a post-9/11 America."
"Setting the film in Boston was Andrew's idea," says Campbell. "He transposed it from England to Boston, is a city that is very English and Irish in terms of its roots. Originally we had our hero, Thomas Craven, from the north of England near Leeds, so it seemed like a perfect evolution for an American movie to make him Boston Irish."
Perhaps no other screenwriter today has written about the Boston area more successfully than William Monahan, who was brought on board by King. In 2006, the two men had worked together on, and they won Academy Awards for, "The Departed." King especially wanted the native Bostonian to infuse the "Edge of Darkness" screenplay with his own unique flavour.
"In addition to all he did to rework the story politically, "Bill is the essence of Bostonian wit. It's gritty but emanates from the highest place of legendary storytelling," says Gibson.
"Bill is a great dialogue writer," states Campbell, ", and he has a great sense of character."," states Campbell. "He reworked the script from a plot point of view, resulting in the biggest difference between the series and the movie."
"Bill Monahan is Boston," says Gibson. "Everywhere you go in the city you can picture him there, eating a bologna sandwich, drinking a beer and exchanging casual banter with people he doesn't even know," he jokes.
"I'm a little leery of being the Boston guy," Monahan says, having lived as much in Los Angeles, New York and London as he ever did in his hometown. Nonetheless, he felt connected to the material. "Once you've got the character centered in Boston, it sort of assembles itself as he moves through his world, from page one. Craven's one of those Roslindale guys. He's a man of very regular and organized habits, who doesn't permit himself much luxury. He has his life, he has his house, and he has his loneliness. He's a widower with a daughter who means a very great deal to him. Once he loses her, he loses everything."
For director Martin Campbell, revisiting the film's characters and themes after two decades presented an exciting challenge. "Just as it did years ago, I thought that the heartfelt story of a man losing his daughter, and going off after revenge, could just really capture an audience today."
Producer Graham King concurs. "For me, 'Edge of Darkness' is not about politics today. It's about a reckoning, a man out for justice, and it's a great ride on the crest of the unknown, not knowing how things are going to pan out but going along for that ride."
Despite the violent lengths Thomas Craven goes to in seeking retribution for his daughter's murder, the film's star, Mel Gibson, found it to be a very human story. "I was intrigued by the characters and how they reacted to what was happening to them," he says. "At the same time, it's a very compelling mystery involving issues we're all uncertain about, and uncertainty is scary to most people."
The central and most complex character in "Edge of Darkness" is Thomas Craven, an experienced homicide detective for the Boston Police Department and a single father who thought he knew his daughter, but discovers there was a lot about her life that he knew nothing about. Because the story revolves around this character's journey and redemption, the casting had to be perfect.
"I think the part of a bereaved father consumed by grief, who gradually sets out to find and avenge those who killed his daughter, was attractive to Mel," observes Campbell.
Thomas Craven is a man in agony, a father coming to terms with his daughter's death the only way he knows how: by solving the crime. He's a cop, he knows the system, and he's been a straight shooter. He's always played by the rules, but for the first time in his life he's come to the realization that the rules will not help him get justice; he'll have to go after that himself. Read more
Shooting the film
"Edge of Darkness" filmed on location in and around the Boston area, including the historic Back Bay; the Boston Commons and Public Gardens; a stately Tudor mansion in Manchester; Charlestown; Newburyport; Lincoln; Merrimac; and Rockport. The interiors of Craven's house and Emma's apartment were shot on sets built at the Chelsea Stages. The company also filmed in western Massachusetts, in the picturesque towns of Northampton and Amherst and atop Mt. Sugarloaf in Deerfield, during the height of the autumn foliage season, known in New England as "the colours."
"Filming in Boston was terrific, as were the people," says Gibson. "Anywhere you looked, you got a pervasive sense of living history that gave you a true appreciation of our hard-won freedom. You felt you were in the cultural cradle of a young nation with the aged style and charm of Europe." Read more
Another tool Gibson used to embody everyday man Thomas Craven was his wardrobe. Costume designer Lindy Hemming received the same direction from Campbell that his DP and production designer did: keep it real. Read more
MEL GIBSON (Thomas Craven) is an award-winning actor, director, writer and producer. In 1995, he directed and produced the epic box office hit "Braveheart," in which he also starred in the title role. The film earned 10 Academy Award® nominations, winning five, including Best Director and Best Picture. Gibson also won Golden Globe and Critics' Choice Awards for Best Director, and a Special Achievement in Filmmaking Award from the National Board of Review. In addition, Gibson was named the Director of the Year at the 1996 ShoWest Convention and received a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Director, as well as a Directors Guild of America Award nomination. Read more
MARTIN CAMPBELL (Director) most recently directed the James Bond adventure "Casino Royale," a critical tour de force and box-office smash that successfully introduced Daniel Craig in the role of Bond. Prior to that, he re-teamed with Antonio Banderas on "The Legend of Zorro," the sequel to their 1998 hit "The Mask of Zorro," which starred Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones and earned Academy Award® and Golden Globe nominations.
A native of New Zealand, Campbell began his career in London as a cameraman for Lew Grade's ATV company. He went on to produce the controversial British feature "Scum" as well as "Black Joy," which was selected for competition at the Cannes Film Festival. He made his directorial debut on the British police action series "The Professionals," and continued with the popular BBC series "Shoestring" and Thames TV's "Minder." Considered one of the UK's top directors by the mid 1980s, he helmed the highly praised British telefilm "Reilly: Ace of Spies" as well as "Edge of Darkness," a critically acclaimed BBC miniseries that won six BAFTA Awards, including a Best Series win for Campbell, and inspired the feature film.
Campbell's first Hollywood movie was "Criminal Law." He went on to direct "Defenseless" and "No Escape" and, in 1995, directed Pierce Brosnan in his first outing as famed British spy James Bond in "GoldenEye." Campbell was credited with rejuvenating the franchise and the movie grossed more than $350 million worldwide. In 2000, he directed and produced the mountaineering action adventure "Vertical Limit," which was critically well received and earned over $200 million worldwide.
Some of Campbell's additional American credits include HBO's "Cast a Deadly Spell" and two episodes of NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Street." He also directed the epic romance "Beyond Borders," starring Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen.
Campbell's upcoming film projects include the crime drama "36" and the action film "Green Lantern."
WILLIAM MONAHAN (Screenwriter) won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for "The Departed," directed by Martin Scorsese, which earned four Oscars®, including Best Picture. Additionally, Monahan collected a Writers Guild of America Award and earned Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations for his work on the film. His previous screen work includes "Kingdom of Heaven" and "Body of Lies," both directed by Ridley Scott. Monahan recently finished principal photography on his first directorial project, "London Boulevard."
ANDREW BOVELL (Screenwriter) won the best screenplay prize at the 2009 San Sebastian Film Festival for his most recent film, "Blessed." The screenplay also won the Australian Writers' Guild AWGIE Award and was nominated for an Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award.
One of Australia's most celebrated writers, with a body of work encompassing film, theatre, television and radio, Bovell's first feature credit was as co-writer of the original screenplay for Baz Luhrmann's "Strictly Ballroom" in 1992. Following that, he wrote the 1998 drama "Head On," which earned an AWGIE Award and an AFI Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, and the 2006 romantic thriller "The Book of Revelation." But it was his third film, director Ray Lawrence's 2001 "Lantana," which put him into the international spotlight. A box-office hit in Australia, it earned acclaim at film festivals around the world and won seven AFI Awards, including Best Screenplay from an Adapted Source (Bovell's own play, "Speaking in Tongues"), Best Film and Best Director. It garnered additional accolades for Bovell when named Best Adapted Screenplay by the Film Critics Circle of Australia, Best Screenplay at the Durban Film Festival and Best Screenplay at the 2003 London Film Critics' Circle Awards.
His most recent play, "When the Rain Stops Falling," has been performed nationally in Australia and is the winner of an AWGIE for Best Stage Play, as well as the Louis Esson Prize for Drama and the Queensland Premier's Literary Award. A new production of the play opened at the Almeida Theatre in London in 2009, and the American premiere is slated to open at New York's Lincoln Center in March 2010. His other plays include "Holy Day," which won the 2002 AWGIE; "Who's Afraid of the Working Class?," which won the Gold Australian Writers' Guild Award in 1999; and the 1997 AWGIE Award winner "Speaking in Tongues," which went on to be produced in the UK and the USA and throughout Europe.
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