Sharon Knolle Freelance Writer

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Published in Variety, Jan. 15, 2002

Director short takes
Helmers elaborate on myriad approaches


Since directing the 1999 film "The Green Mile," Frank Darabont has become associated with films that deal with humanity and redemption, not to mention being the perennial subject of Oscar buzz.

"I read the script and it just rang this bell with me," he says about his latest, "The Majestic," a tale of mistaken identity that deals with the Hollywood blacklist starring Jim Carrey. "It spoke to my love of Frank Capra movies. It was the love letter to Frank Capra that I've always wanted to write. Capra was a huge influence on me as a filmmaker. 'It's a Wonderful Life' is my all-time favorite movie."

The film was shot in a small California town called Ferndale near the Oregon border amid "radically changeable" weather conditions, says the director.

"Filming the scene in which Jim Carrey's car plunges off a bridge was challenging," he says. "I'd never flirted with physical effects before to that degree. We built a part of the bridge up at Falls Lake at Universal Studios at a tank. We digitally filled in the landscape and extended the bridge and added the water.

"It's really amazing how physical and digital effects can be so challenging. I don't know how Steven Spielberg does it with all the dinosaurs."

As for how the movie reflects his ethos as a filmmaker, Darabont says he tends "to like stories where you're kind of drawn into a world and really get to know the characters. I'm not cutting edge, I'm kind of a throwback, those are the kind of movies I love the most. Like Mr. Capra, I do tend to wear my heart on my sleeve a bit. Audiences tend to like it and critics tend to hate it. It's not for me to judge. Time and the audience will really judge what we do."— Sharon Knolle