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Exclusive Interview with "Mr and Mrs Smith" Producer, Akiva Goldsman

Goldsman on Casting Angelina Jolie, Onscreen Chemistry, and Producing Duties

By

Akiva Goldsman Mr and Mrs Smith

Producer Akiva Goldsman on the set of "Mr and Mrs Smith"

© 20th Century Fox
On Casting Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as Husband and Wife in "Mr and Mrs Smith:" Producer Akiva Goldsman admits he had absolutely no idea if Jolie and Pitt would generate sparks onscreen. “No, we didn’t. The movie originally was Brad and Nicole Kidman. Then ‘Stepford Wives’ promised to shoot well into the next century and so Nicole jumped ship. And so we cast Angie pretty quickly thereafter. But I don’t think they’d met until our first sort of sit down and look at the scenes together. It was a dice roll,” said Goldsman.

Taking the Chance the Two Sexy Stars Would Create Some Heat: “Like so many things in moviemaking, it doesn’t seem perilous at the time. You’re sort of proceeding as wisely as you can in a sort of poppy field of unknowns. So all those moves now of course seem intensely hazardous but didn’t then.”

On Angelina Jolie Replacing Nicole Kidman: Goldsman said getting Angelina Jolie to take on the project wasn’t exactly a hard sell. “Look, here’s where we were at that moment. We had Doug Liman, who was at that point 3 for 3. In my opinion he’s now 4 for 4. And his movies are undeniably both commercial and interesting. So we had Doug Liman. We had this really good script and we had Brad Pitt in the lead. Suffice it to say there was no shortage of women who were available for the part,” recalled Goldsman.

Akiva Goldsman on how the Rumors of an Offscreen Romance Between Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt Might Affect “Mr and Mrs Smith” at the Box Office: “I think it’s irrelevant. I think it’s not fun for the human beings involved but I don’t think it has anything to do with the movie. Movies are movies. People like them or don’t like them. I think it’s based entirely on what the experience of seeing the movie is. And everything else is just deckchairs on the Titanic or the Queen Elizabeth. None of it matters.”

Akiva Goldsman’s Role as a Producer: The Academy Award-winning screenwriter (“A Beautiful Mind”) says that whether he’s on a movie as the screenwriter or as a producer doesn’t make much of a difference as far as his day-to-day commitment to the project. He’s on the set each and every day. Goldsman loves that part of the process, even though at times it’s been a bit of a struggle.

“I’ve been really lucky because as a writer I’ve been on set almost every day of every film I’ve written, which is how I ended up becoming a producer. I discovered that I found the process congenial and I was not useless at it. So it was sort of interesting that I evolved to producer, or stepped to producer, when a lot of my friends stepped to director. And I like it. I really enjoy it. I mean, this got a little complicated because respective pushes of two movies had ‘Cinderella Man’ and ‘Mr and Mrs Smith’ shooting at the same time. So I was commuting almost at some points every three days between Los Angeles and Toronto, which is not an experience I’d like to replicate. But I really enjoy being on set. I love movie sets,” explained Goldsman, adding that traveling between the two films did take its toll. “I wouldn’t do it again and it was not for the whole movie. It was basically a month of overlap where it was grim. There was a lot of napping on couches.”

The “Mr and Mrs Smith” Pitch from Then College Student Simon Kinberg:
“He’s a lovely kid. We have a little company here at Warner Bros – Weed Road – and Simon was in grad school and he came and pitched this idea. We loved it and we took it to every studio and they all passed. Nobody cared at all. And we got Summit Entertainment to pay for one draft of the script and then we sent the script out and everybody passed. The collective skyrocketing intelligence that is our studio system… And finally Regency, which is a company that has its output deal at Fox, bought it. And then we were suddenly a Doug Liman/Nicole Kidman/Brad Pitt movie. We all looked like geniuses. But only seconds before, literally, no one could have been less interested.”

Seeing Something in “Mr and Mrs Smith” the Studios Didn’t: “Well, at first they were saying that it’s ‘execution dependent’, which is just like saying we should have food for dinner. I mean, literally it’s a non-sentence which means that they don’t want to buy something speculatively. Then when they had the script, I think what they were scared of was that it was really, really, really - as you said and you’ve seen – it’s tonally very delicate. We’re walking this tightrope. We’re trying this tightrope of comedy and melodrama, which in the wrong hands could have been bad. So they weren’t exactly crazy nor were they exactly inspired.”

PAGE 2: Akiva Goldsman on Choosing Doug Liman to Direct "Mr and Mrs Smith," Adapting Screenplays, and Working with "Cinderella Man" Director Ron Howard

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