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.
"Craven is very pedestrian," observes Gibson, "just a guy who's getting by, day-to-day. He hasn't been the greatest father but he provided. His journey now is a war of attrition; everything that happens wears away at who he is. The stress, the traumatic experience of losing a child like that, has him just a little unhinged and walking around most of the time in a state of near breakdown. He is close--right at the edge--but he can't let it crack too much because he's got a job to do."
"Mel gave a terrific performance in a very demanding role that had him in front of the camera every day," admires Campbell. "He didn't get a day off from filming; his character is in almost every scene. He worked very hard and it shows in his performance."
King appreciated the actor's take on the complex role. "A cop is going to have a lot of enemies, so most people are going to think the bullet was meant for him and that she just got in the way," offers King. "On top of that, one can only imagine what it would be like dealing with that whole guilt and that emotion in a situation such as Craven's, where he's got no family left. He's really done. He's finished. He wants to find out who did it and then move on, but people are getting in his way."
Gibson says he found the biggest challenge to playing Craven was "the stillness. Stillness has always been a stranger to me, and he's very still. I tried to really rein myself in--not pull too many faces or make too many movements--because he's a very introverted man."
Craven has cause to tread carefully, especially when the imposing figure of Darius Jedburgh shows up unannounced in his backyard. English actor Ray Winstone plays the only Brit in an otherwise all-American cast of characters. In a sort of role-reversal, Jedburgh was the only American character in the all-British miniseries.
Says Campbell, who first worked with the actor early in their careers, some 30 years ago, "Ray brings a very powerful, underlyingly threatening quality to the character of Darius Jedburgh, who at the same time is a total enigma."
"Those are the parts you want to play. I think Jedburgh is a clever man who is capable of being a cold-blooded killer," reveals Winstone. "He knows how to maneuver, how to work people. I felt he would have to have a certain amount of charm for Mel's character, in his state of grief and anger, to stand there and talk to him."
Working for an unnamed employer, Jedburgh connects with Craven in order to find out what Craven's daughter was involved in and what information she might have had. What some might call a "cleaner," he is given license by those who employ him to do whatever he thinks is necessary to resolve a situation. He is, in effect, judge, jury and, when necessary, executioner.
"Jedburgh is a very powerful man who clearly has been involved with government work for many years," offers Campbell. "You don't really know what agency, if any, he works for, or why he is endowed with the power he has. He is brought in to assess situations and clean up the mess--in this case, a potential catastrophe for the company Northmoor if the evidence gets out as to precisely what they're manufacturing at their facility."
Northmoor, Emma's employer at the time of her murder, is a top -security, private research compound with government contracts--though it appears the government turns a blind eye to what they are doing. It is run by a man named JohnJack Bennett.
"Bennett is your ultimate villain for today's climate," King describes, "a charismatic businessman with a slick façade, a real sleazy 'suit' put in a very high-powered position."
Danny Huston portrays the corrupt character. "I love playing characters that are evil but find a way to justify their actions," says the actor. "I don't think Bennett is political, he just knows how to use that world to his advantage. He figures that yes, people sometimes die, but there's a reason--they're meddling, they could cause greater danger. He feels he doesn't have to answer to anyone. To him, it's not a political game, it's a money game."
"Danny is a terrific actor," says Campbell. "There aren't many like him. I wanted him in this role because he doesn't initially appear as an obvious villain. There's a glint of humor behind what he's saying, which ultimately makes him more menacing."
One character with reason to fear Bennett is Emma's boyfriend and fellow Northmoor employee, Daniel Burnham. Burnham holds a key for Thomas Craven to his daughter's hidden past. Their first meeting is an explosive one and a pivotal moment in the film. Cast in the role was actor Shawn Roberts.
"The script really pulled me in," declares Roberts. "There's the sense that at any point in time there will be a knock on the door and somebody's going to die. That tension keeps the story going and really motivates the characters. When you first meet Burnham, he's been holed up in his apartment for days, just waiting for that knock at the door…and a barrel of a gun on the other side."
Burnham is perhaps the only other character in the film that can even begin to empathize with Craven's sense of loss because he, too, loved Emma. Serbian-born actress Bojana Novakovic plays the role of Emma, whose murder is the catalyst of the story.
"I found it to be a very interesting mix, this emotionally driven story that exists because of an action that this young woman took," says Novakovic. "She acted on her instinct--what she believed was good and moral judgment--and took on a group of people who are much bigger than her and have more money and more power."
"Emma loves her father but also takes him to task, questions him and stands up to him if necessary, even though, up until now, she's never given him a clue as to the other side of her life," notes Campbell.
In the opening of the film, Emma returns home to Boston to see her father, and there is a sense that it is more than a casual visit. The actress offers, "Emma needs her father to advise her on a personal level, but also because he's a policeman and he has a lot of experience. But mostly I think a daughter just needs her dad."
Unfortunately, Thomas Craven loses his daughter before she has a chance to tell him what's going on; nonetheless, he continues to see her, both as a child and a grown woman, even if it's only in his imagination. "He needs her in order to be able to do what she wanted him to do," Novakovic continues. "He needs to be able to talk to her, because he has nothing left. She comes to him as he remembers her, and helps him that way. The only way for him to save her now is to keep talking to her, to keep that relationship going by remembering it, or recreating it, in the best way that he possibly can."
Says Gibson, "Emma wouldn't say anything that couldn't have been conceived in Craven's own mind, of course, but he feels like he gets to know a little bit more about her in death than he did in life."
Novakovic met Gibson during the rehearsal period, before shooting began, and the chemistry between the two was immediate, making the father-daughter relationship a very real and believable one.
"There's a sense of gravity about Bojana," adds Gibson, "something intrinsic to her. She's a presence. You remember her."
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 colors."
"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."
One mandate that director Martin Campbell laid down to his creative team was to keep the look of the film as realistic as possible. "Realism in the film was absolutely important," the director states, pointing out that "when Emma died, we had real forensic people, real cops, all of that. The action in this film is really grounded in a relationship story, so making it all appear very real was essential. So stylistically, we shot it very simply, in a very uncomplicated manner; there are no pretentious or slick shots."
Collaborating with Campbell were his longtime director of photography Phil Meheux and production designer Tom Sanders, who was working with Campbell for the first time.
"One task as a DP is to underscore what's emotionally interesting in every scene, and one way we did that was with light," says Meheux, who provides the example of Craven's kitchen and Emma's apartment, sets that were revisited throughout the entire film. "Craven's taken leave from the police station, so his kitchen and her apartment really become his areas of operation. In the beginning of the film there's more light there, but as the story progresses and what we learn about Emma's life and death gets darker and darker, there's less and less light in those sets. Now, I don't think the average filmgoer notices these subtle changes consciously, but I think they do feel it, emotionally."
Sanders and his team also made the most out of the sets and locations. "We picked Sugarloaf because the whole schedule of the film was around getting the fall leaves, which you don't always have the opportunity to do," he says. "Sugarloaf overlooks this beautiful, historic valley where famous battles took place. We put Bennett's office at Northmoor on top of the mountain so the whole scene would take place looking out at that valley."
For the rest of Northmoor, Sanders also utilized an historic site. "At Amherst, we built onto the exterior of a strategic air command center, which was the actual center where they would have pushed the button for the bombs during the `60s. We modernized it to make it into the lobby of the corporation, on top of this big mountain."
Sanders' team also kept tight control on their color palette. "We tried to keep everything muted and subdued so that the actors and the costumes stand out first," he says, "so that you're taking in more of the emotions in the scene than looking around the room."
Most of Craven's more emotional scenes occurred in his home and at Emma's place; both sets were built. "For Craven, we matched a house that we found on the outskirts of Boston," Sanders relates, "and we built the full interior and exterior on stage and in a warehouse. We also built Emma's attic apartment."
The behind-the-scenes teams weren't the only ones recreating that uniquely Boston tone. Gibson, a New York native who spent most of his upbringing in Australia, had to sound like a born-and-bred Bostonian.
"All my cousins were from Queens and Brooklyn. My mom was Brooklyn Irish, so it wasn't that far off; it does go back to a Gaelic root," says the actor, who enjoyed doing the research. "I hung out with detectives like Tommy Duffy. He's great, he sounds like a tough-talkin' dog in a cartoon," he grins. "The accent really has its own character. That diphthong can kind of slip you into a different place, a different level of being."
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.
"Martin is great because he really talks to you about the characters, what he thinks they're like, and then also about the actors, and then he lets you get on with it," she says.
One somewhat iconic image from the 1985 miniseries was carried over into the current feature: Craven's raincoat. "Martin really wanted to keep the raincoat, which is something Craven puts on after Emma's been shot and the coat he was wearing, standing right next to her, is ruined. And he keeps the raincoat on throughout most of the movie. It sort of isolates him in a film where so many men are wearing suits or a police uniform. He's often the only one who's drab and down in this wrinkly mac." In order to show the character wearing the coat throughout his ordeal, Hemming says she had "about 25 really ordinary, soft identical raincoats made so that they could get more and more broken down as he goes along, getting more and more broken down himself."
Hemming began determining her color palette for the film by a process of elimination. "I tried to eliminate white wherever I could so that you would see more of people's faces and expressions, because I knew that Phil was going to light it in a way that would focus on that." Hemming also tried to avoid one particular color when it game to Gibson--blue. "I tried to squash all his vibrancy. I just used a tiny bit of blue on him for a scene where he'd be walking on the beach, which I thought would be good. Of course, as soon as he had on that blue, it made his eyes vibrant and he looked incredibly handsome and I thought, 'I shouldn't have allowed that blue!'"
The beach scene wasn't the only time Hemming had to fight Gibson's movie star looks. "His wardrobe for the funeral was a $99 suit, the cheapest I could find so it would look like it belonged to somebody who didn't have a huge amount of money and who was just not interested in clothes. Mel put it on and I thought, 'Oh no, he looks too handsome again.'"
The costume designer took an opposite approach to clothing Danny Huston's character, Jack Bennett. The only person I was really allowed to go to town with was Danny," Hemming smiles. "Beautiful suits, a little color. He had to look 'expensive.' I've worked with the company Brioni before, and they provided all the clothes for Bennett, and some for Jedburgh. "I was very lucky to have them send such lovely pieces," she says.
Hemming made sure not to go over the top with Jedburgh, however. "His clothes had to look like they cost a lot, but be very subtle and sophisticated, not showing anything about who he was, not really giving any information about his life because everything's a secret with him. We used fabrics like cashmere, which don't reflect light, keeping him very soft, which is really the opposite of how Ray Winstone is. He's very vital and gregarious."
Another character Hemming kept very soft was Emma Craven. "I wanted to make her somebody you'd see among people in Boston or Northampton; I really wanted her to wear the clothes they wear." Because Emma appears to her father in several scenes after her death, Hemming and Campbell discussed whether or not to change her wardrobe. "In the end we decided it would be too confusing, so she always wears the same thing. There's a little bit of almost fuzziness to the fabric, because in Craven's memory she would be a bit softened."
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.
He later directed, co-wrote and produced 2004's "The Passion of the Christ," which became a worldwide box office phenomenon, exceeding all industry expectations. Earning more than $600 million globally, it remains the highest-grossing independent film in history. More recently, Gibson directed, co-wrote and produced the drama "Apocalypto," which received Golden Globe, BAFTA Award and London Film Critics Circle Award nominations for Best Foreign Language Film.
Gibson made his first impact as an actor, starring in such critical and commercial successes as the "Mad Max" trilogy, "Gallipoli," and the "Lethal Weapon" actioners. Born in upstate New York, Gibson moved to Australia with his family at the age of 12. He attended the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) at the University of New South Wales, where he appeared in several stage productions, including the role of Biff in Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman." On the strength of his stage work, Gibson came to the attention of film director George Miller, who cast him in the title role in 1979's "Mad Max." The low-budget, post-apocalyptic thriller became a surprise worldwide box office smash and put Gibson on the film industry map. The same year, he also played the almost diametrically opposite role of a gentle mentally handicapped man in "Tim," for which he won the Australian Film Institute's (AFI) Best Actor Award.
In 1981, Gibson starred in two films that further established him as an internationally acclaimed leading man. He won a second AFI Best Actor prize for his performance in Peter Weir's true-life World War I drama "Gallipoli," and then starred in Miller's "Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior." The following year, Gibson reunited with Weir to star in "The Year of Living Dangerously," for which he received another AFI Award nomination in the category of Best Actor. In 1984, Gibson starred in three very different films: Roger Donaldson's "The Bounty," portraying mutineer Fletcher Christian; Mark Rydell's "The River," opposite Sissy Spacek; and Gillian Armstrong's "Mrs. Soffel," with Diane Keaton. He went on to star in George Miller's 1985 hit "Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome," reprising his role for the last time.
Gibson then starred in Richard Donner's 1987 blockbuster "Lethal Weapon," playing the role of Detective Sergeant Martin Riggs in the initial instalment of what would become one of the film industry's most successful action franchises. Over the next 12 years, Gibson starred in three more "Lethal Weapon" films, all directed by Donner.
In 1990, Gibson formed Icon Productions with partner Bruce Davey. The first film produced under the Icon banner was "Hamlet," directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring Gibson, who won the William Shakespeare Award from the Folger Library in Washington, DC, for his performance. He has since starred in such Icon projects as "Forever Young," "Maverick," "Payback," "What Women Want" and "We Were Soldiers." Gibson also made his directorial debut in 1993 with Icon's drama "The Man Without a Face."
In 2000, Gibson became the first actor to star in three films released in the same year that each earned more than $100 million at the domestic box office: Roland Emmerich's historical epic "The Patriot"; the animated adventure comedy "Chicken Run," in which he voiced the lead role; and Nancy Meyers' romantic comedy "What Women Want," opposite Helen Hunt, for which Gibson received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor - Musical or Comedy.
Gibson previously received a Golden Globe nomination, for Best Actor - Drama, for his performance in Ron Howard's thriller "Ransom." His long list of film acting credits also includes Robert Towne's "Tequila Sunrise"; John Badham's "Bird on a Wire," opposite Goldie Hawn; "Air America," with Robert Downey Jr.; Richard Donner's "Conspiracy Theory," opposite Julia Roberts; and M. Night Shyamalan's "Signs."