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A Simple Plan - Sam Raimi
by Dov Kornits

Sam Raimi is one of the legends of schlock horror cinema. Evil Dead (and its two sequels, Evil Dead 2 and The Army Of Darkness) has become one of the all time classic video nasty cult greats. He jumped through hoops for the studios with Darkman and the The Quick And The Dead, which threw him up against the Hollywood egos of Sharon Stone and Leonardo DiCaprio ("He was bursting with talent. Everybody could see he was going to be a very big star"). Now, A Simple Plan has met with critical raves and scored two Oscar nominations.

How has this producer of Hercules and Xena ("I've never even been to New Zealand"), and renowned trash enthusiast adapted to life as a serious filmmaker? "The script was so good that when I read it I realised that it didn't need any fancy business. It just wanted to be told in a very straightforward fashion. The best thing I could do was just to make myself invisible, work with the actors and put the camera not in the most exciting place necessarily, but the proper place. The driving force in this film was the script and the actors. There were about four different directors on A Simple Plan before I came on board. Mike Nichols was going to direct it at one time, then Ben Stiller, then John Boorman and then John Dahl was going to direct it. And then I finally got to direct it."

Even his cast was already waiting for him. "Billy Bob Thornton and Bill Paxton were already on board. They really worked for me, so I didn't change anything. They were so great in their first pairing, One False Move. I think that's where Boorman got the idea to cast them alongside each other. And in this film they just went off the trust that they'd built together in that film. They were able to be very open with one another and we were able to collaborate very closely. It was a very rich personal experience for me working with these guys."

Just as vital to the balance of the film was the casting of the character of Paxton's wife, the scheming Sarah. "I didn't think anyone was going to be right for her role. Everyone had to audition. Bridget Fonda was the most believable as Sarah Mitchell. She was really convincing with her performance and that's what got her the role."

As well as being Raimi's first heavyweight, serious film, it was also his first shot at directing an adaptation of a bestseller. "The book is much more depressing than the film. The relationship of the brothers is not explored nearly as much, and I think that has a lot to do with the sensitivity that the boys brought to the movie. There are a lot of plot differences. It doesn't end the same way; it doesn't even begin the same way. They're very different. The studio gambled on something that's not necessarily commercial. I think they believed it would just make a good picture."

Raimi's next film is one sure to please the studios: a baseball movie starring Kevin Costner. "I didn't start For Love of the Game. I came on as a director. In fact, Kevin Costner hired me for the picture. I don't think he's seen any of my movies but we had a conversation, I met with the producers, we hit it off very well and I think that got me the job. My love of baseball probably had a lot to do with it too."

But for fans of Sam Raimi's prodigious bloodletting and ghoulish taste for horror, don't worry, he hasn't turned into another soft-boiled studio boy. "I love horror movies and I'd love to make another one. But I was just taken by this particular script and thought it would make a great picture. It was the same with For Love of the Game. It wasn't any desire to get away from horror movies or anything. I actually really like a good horror movie." ---Dov Kornits

link directly to this feature at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=24
originally posted: 05/08/99 19:22:09
last updated: 05/19/99 02:08:52
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