The making of ‘Edge of Darkness’ – new Mel Gibson movie after 7 year screen absence

Edge of Darkness is an upcoming action film adaptation of the 1985 BBC television series, Edge of Darkness. The film stars Mel Gibson and marks the first time Gibson has played the lead role in a film since Signs in 2002. Edge of Darkness follows a detective (Mel Gibson) investigating the murder of his activist daughter (Bojana Novakovic), uncovering political conspiracies and cover-ups in the process.

Ray Winstone co-stars, and the movie is directed by Martin Campbell and produced by Michael Wearing, who also directed and produced the series respectively. Based on the hugely popular and multi-award-winning British TV miniseries "Edge of Darkness" (1985) written by Troy Kennedy-Martin and directed by Martin Campbell. In the original, Craven was played by Bob Peck and Darius Jedburgh was played by Joe Don Baker.

In 2002, Martin Campbell announced that he was planning to adapt Edge of Darkness for the cinema. Active development began in early 2007 when Campbell met with producer Graham King, who first enlisted Australian playwright Andrew Bovell to write, and then William Monahan (fresh from winning an Academy Award for King's The Departed) to re-write the screenplay. “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.”

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 the role of Thomas Craven. The part called for someone of his caliber; 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 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.”

Filming began on August 18, 2008 in Boston, Massachusetts and shot through September in the surrounding 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.”

“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.”

Incidentally, Robert De Niro had originally been cast in the role of CIA crime-scene operative Darius Jedburgh, but dropped out due to 'creative differences' after spending a few days on the set. No word if scenes of his scrapped character will end up on the DVD. Winstone immediately stepped in to take over the role.

John Corigliano was the first composer on the project and wrote a full complete score to the original cut of the film with the National Philharmonic Orchestra in London with the legendary conductor Leonard Slatkin conducting the music. When the film underwent re-shoots and the tone was changed to a more action driven film, Corgliano's score was then rejected as it did not fit the new version of the film. Howard Shore was then brought in by producer Graham King, who previously worked with Shore on The Departed (2006).

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.”

Edge of Darkness will be released in US theaters on January 29, 2010.

Filmmaking, New Movies

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