Edward James Olmos did not receive the screenplay for his latest directorial project, “The Devil Has a Name,” from his agent or a Hollywood producer.
The veteran actor, known for “Battlestar Galactica” and “Stand and Deliver”, was fortuitously given the document by a man he had never met before in his life.
Olmos, 73, was at an overseas business conference, listening to pitches and offering his advice, when a trio approached him with an offer from them.
“We have a project, and we’d like to know if maybe you’d like to take a look at it?” The actor and director recalled as he told the man. Always polite, Olmos had no choice but to consider the screenplay from a novice screenwriter named Robert McEveety. “I was kind of in a position where I couldn’t say, ‘No, man, talk to my agent. Send it there. Because everyone was sitting there, ”he says.
And then the meeting got even stranger.
“They told me when they gave me this script that they had the money to do it,” Olmos said, adding that such a circumstance is rare in Hollywood. “And then I found out that the money was coming from the people it had happened to.”
These people were an unlikely bunch: Californian farmers, including Fred Starrh who sued Aera Energy in 2001 because the company has let millions of barrels of oil seep into the groundwater of its land. Starrh was awarded $ 7 million, which helped Olmos’ last effort as a director. Starry’s son is executive producer of the film.
“They don’t need to get their money back,” said Olmos, who also stars in the film. “It’s not about making money.”
The comedy-drama, which alongside Olmos stars David Strathairn (as Fred), Alfred Molina, Martin Sheen and Kate Bosworth, takes the real events of this environmental crime and adds humor and a hint of absurdity as Strathairn chasing a nearly naked oil executive and hugging a golf club. Olmos was not looking to make a simple social justice film.
“I didn’t want to do an ‘Erin Brockovich’,” Olmos said of the freedoms he took. “If we were doing one of these movies right now, nobody would want to see it, man. There is enough reality as it is.
For Olmos, both Californian and activist, it was a special story that he felt needed to be told.
“This film will capture the consciousness of people,” he says. “And there is no rush. It’s like ‘Battlestar [Galactica]”. It was understood back then, but now, wow, it’s become another level.
“I think this movie will last a little while.”
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