While Terrence Malick‘s admirers and fans are numerous, his mercurial attitude, intuitive filmmaking style and free rein in the editing suite has also earned him his fair share detractors. Adrien Brody wasn’t exactly pleased to learn his lead role had pretty much been reduced to nothing in “The Thin Red Line“; composer James Horner famously battled Malick during the making of “The New World” and recently, Sean Penn was a bit confused on what his role really meant in “The Tree Of Life” (though he still recommended and supported the film). Well, you can add one more actor to the list who doesn’t exactly sing the praises of Terrence Malick.
“I love some of his movies very much,” Christopher Plummer said at the Newsweek awards season roundtable, “but the problem with Terry is he needs a writer, desperately. He insists on overwriting until it sounds terribly pretentious…and he edits his films in such a way that he cuts everyone out of them.”
“Terry gets terribly involved in poetic shots, which are gorgeous, they are paintings, all of them, but he gets lost in that and the stories get diffused,” Plummer continued. “Particularly in ‘The New World.’ The first half hour of that film is sheer magic to look at…but then the story starts to [wander].”
“I was put in all sorts of different spots and suddenly my character was not in the scene that I thought I was in, in the editing room. It was very strange. It completely unbalances everything. And a very emotional scene that I had suddenly became background noise,” Plummer said about his experience, adding that afterward, he wrote him a letter. “I gave him shit. I’ll never work with him again.”
This is hardly the first time Plummer, who plays Captain Newport in the film, has spoken out about his tough time shooing “The New World.” He’s previously said that Malick was more interested in shooting osprey than any actual scenes for the movie (a comparison he brings up again here). It’s also interesting to see George Clooney, who featured in “The Thin Red Line,” particularly enjoy Plummer’s assessment of Malick.