Mélanie Laurent’s latest directorial effort “Galveston,” starring Elle Fanning and Ben Foster, is adapted from the 2010 novel of the same name written by “True Detective” creator Nic Pizzolatto. The writer adapted his own novel for the film’s screenplay, but moviegoers might notice something strange come the end credits: The script is not attributed to Pizzolatto but to a man named Jim Hammet. “Galveston” producer Tyler Davidson confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that Hammet isn’t a real screenwriter but a pseudonym Pizzolatto requested.
“My personal opinion is that Nic did not feel the final script reflected his work as the sole credited writer,” Davidson said, “and his representatives advised us to credit him with his pseudonym.”
Pizzolatto is known for seeking autonomy behind the scenes of his projects, which is one reason he reportedly clashed with director Cary Fukunaga during the making of “True Detective” season one. According to Davidson, Laurent had lots of ideas for the movie when she signed on to direct the film, and not all of them were confined to the script Pizzolatto had written.
“When Mélanie came on board to direct Galveston, she had a strong vision for the film she wanted to make, and the producing team fully supported that vision, which included her significant contributions to the screenplay,” Davidson said. “Mélanie may have deserved a shared screenplay credit.”
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Laurent is not credited as a screenwriter on the film because of a Writers Guild of America rule that states the organization does not pursue credit configuration when shared credit between a production executive like a director and a screenwriter is requested. Laurent told EW she was directly responsible for numerous changes to the script made on the spot during filming. When a moment felt right with her actors to go beyond what Pizzolatto had scripted, Laurent would go for it.
“If [producers] wanted to make an American movie in the spirit of ‘True Detective,’ I think they’d have chosen someone else,” Laurent said. “They had a reason to find a female director from Europe. My way of working involves feeling my instincts. You shoot a scene, go back home, and feel like, ‘OK, I need to change things tomorrow! We need to add another scene because now it’s not working anymore [or the actors] did something strong and so we need to follow it.'”
Laurent said she “added moments of life into the script,” such as a scene of Fanning crying in a bathtub after experiencing something traumatic. Pizzolatto’s original script did not include the scene. The filmmaker said she never met Pizzolatto, nor did she feel the need to have to conform to the atmosphere and style he executed on “True Detective.”
“The idea was to do something very different,” Laurent said. “Production-wise and acting-wise, we didn’t want to make anything that looked like a Nic movie.”
“Galveston” is now playing in select theaters and available on VOD platforms, courts of RLJE.