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Writer Simon Kinberg Discusses "Mr and Mrs Smith" and "X-Men 3"

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Updated February 24, 2014
Simon Kinberg on the History of “Mr and Mrs Smith:” Kinberg wrote the script while in college and pitched it to acclaimed writer/producer, Akiva Goldsman. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? According to Kinberg the process was, at times, almost painful.

“I was in film school at the time. I had an idea for a movie. I knew Akiva Goldsman the producer of the film. I pitched him the idea and he liked it. Then we went around pitching it to every studio in town, every one of which passed on the movie. Nobody wanted to buy it. We retooled it, we tweaked it. We tried to make it, we thought, better and more saleable. We went out again, they passed again. They just kept saying no and no and no. We were trying to count it up the other day. I think 32 passes we got. And it was pretty disheartening because I was a kid in film school and when 32 grown-ups in suits tell you that you’re wrong, you believe them that you’re wrong.

Then I went back to film school and I started writing it as my thesis project and, you know, I sent it out here and Akiva liked it. We got really lucky in that the first person we sent it to outside of our little circle was Nicole Kidman. And Nicole really liked the movie and championed it. And actually she was the first actor who was attached. She sent it to Brad [Pitt]. That’s how Brad got involved. And because ‘Stepford Wives’ kept going and going and going, Nicole had to drop out of the movie and then we recast with Angelina [Jolie],” explained Kinberg. “At that point, once Nicole said she liked the script then the studios got involved and that’s when Fox and Regency became involved in the film.”

"Mr and Mrs Smith" = A Metaphor for Marriage: “You know, that was one of the hardest things to pitch to studios is that you could write an action movie that was ultimately a metaphor for marriage and was more about the marriage. One of the ways that you write it is that all of the action sequences in the film have to be, in some form, expressions of where these characters are in their marriage. They have to be expressions of emotion. Instead of two people having a fight over the dinner table about the salt, they’re actually doing it with assault rifles. So all of the action is emotional.”

Simon Kinberg on the Origin of “Mr and Mrs Smith:” “Where it came from is I’ve always been a huge action film fan and a couple of friends of mine were in marriage therapy and they started talking to me about marriage therapy. And the way they were talking about it sounded kind of aggressive and mercenary. And I just thought it would make an interesting template for a relationship inside of an action film.”

Settling the Debate: Is “Mr and Mrs Smith” a Romantic Comedy or an Action Movie? “Romantic comedy. For me, our movie is a romantic comedy pretending to be an action film.”

The Status of “X-Men 3: Simon Kinberg is currently at work writing the script for the heavily anticipated third film of the “X-Men” franchise. Commenting on the status, Kinberg said, “It’s going really well actually. We have a new director. Matthew Vaughn just left this week and Brett Ratner came on.”

Kinberg on Changing “X-Men 3” Directors: “It’s a strange thing obviously because usually you’re more used to it with writers than with directors. But Brett’s fantastic. He really understands the tone of the movie and he understands the franchise and he’s really committed to the film. And his energy is really, really inspiring and really infectious and we need that because we’re on a tight schedule.” How tight of a schedule? Kinberg said, “Try seven weeks – six weeks.”

The Return of Our Favorite “X-Men” Characters: Kinberg confirmed that the same familiar faces will be in place when “X-Men 3” starts shooting. “Everybody is back with some new characters, too,” confirmed Kinberg. As for Halle Berry, there was a lot of talk early on that she wasn’t interested in returning as Storm. Kinberg said she’s definitely back. “She has much more to do, actually,” offered Kinberg.

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