Martin Campbell on Why He Directed Edge of Darkness
01.25.10 by Ryan
Not many directors get to make a TV mini-series and then create a movie based on the same material 25 years later, but that's exactly what Martin Campbell has done with Edge of Darkness. The director spoke with ComingSoon about why he returned to the story so many years later.
What happened was that someone suggested making it into a movie way back in 2000, and I was kind of lukewarm about it. I thought, "Oh, well ... maybe they can get some money to develop the thing," and over the next five or six years, a writer called Andrew Bovell, a very good writer from Australia, sort of whittled it down from six hours to where it is now, a two-hour movie. I was doing other projects, Casino" [Royale] amongst them, and this was being developed as it were behind me, and then at about the sixth draft, it was shaping up pretty well, and I read it, and I had just met Graham King and had suggested it to him, and he said, "Look, I'll finance it, because I love the series," so he did. I sent it to Mel [Gibson], and Mel was kind of interested. We then got Bill Monahan to do the final two drafts of the movie, and Mel was on board, so it all came together basically.
Campbell admits he treated Edge of Darkness as a "completely separate" movie from the TV series, though besides moving from England to Boston and losing some of the political backstory of "Thatcher's England," Campbell says the two iterations of the story are still similar.
Clearly you have to lose a lot of stuff when you reduce six hours down. The
characters that remain are the leads, which is Jedburgh (Ray Winstone) and Craven (Gibson), and all the emotional stakes in the movie are identical to the series, i.e. a police detective whose daughter is murdered and he sets out to
discover who was responsible. The kind of emotional spine of the story is identical to the series.
Gibson's role of Detective Thomas Craven is his first since 2002's Signs, having been busying himself by directing movies like Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto. Campbell says Gibson approached the process simply as an actor.
He simply said at the beginning of the movie: "Look, I'm just an actor. I'm not a director, I'm not a producer, I'm none of that. I simply want to act in this and that's what we're doing." He made it very clear up front that that's what his role was.