Actress Eva Green showed a “vitriolic aversion” to production plans for a failed sci-fi film and should not receive her million-dollar fee, the High Court was told.
The Casino Royale star, 42, is accused of making “excessive creative and financial demands” and having expectations that were “incompatible” with the budget of the £4 million project, that was shut down in October 2019.
She is suing production company White Lantern Films, claiming she is entitled to her fee for the abandoned film A Patriot, despite its cancellation.
White Lantern Films is defending the case and bringing a counterclaim against the French actress, alleging she undermined the independent film’s production.
Lawyers for the company and its lender SMC Speciality Finance claim she expressed “sheer hostility” in messages referring to members of the production, and conspired with the director and producer to secure the film rights and make a different film.
On the first day of a trial in London on Thursday, Max Mallin KC, for White Lantern Films, accepted Ms Green had a commitment to making a film but one “she wanted to make”.
“We have got a critical split between the expectation of Eva Green and the film she wanted to make and what the budget could afford,” the barrister said.
Mr Mallin said that Ms Green, who was not present at court on Thursday, had “animosity” towards a vision for the film held by one of the film’s executive producers, Jake Seal.
In written arguments, the lawyer said the “adequately resourced” film “could and would have been produced had the lead actor and essential element not pulled out”.
“Ms Green’s expectations for the film were incompatible with its budget: it was an independent film in contrast to the large-budget studio films to which Ms Green was then accustomed,” Mr Mallin said.
He added: “The clash between Ms Green’s expectations and reality was demonstrated continually by Ms Green’s failure to engage responsibly in pre-production and her repeatedly making unreasonable demands of White Lantern.”
He claimed a “scheme” was devised between the actress, writer and director Dan Pringle and producer Adam Merrifield – allegedly described by the latter as “Operation Fake It!” – to secure her fee and make a separate film without SMC involved.
In a message to Mr Pringle, Ms Green claimed her “soul will die” if she was to make the film with Mr Seal at the Black Hangar production facility in Hampshire, Mr Mallin said.
The barrister said that in other exchanges with her agent and Mr Pringle, Ms Green claimed Mr Seal was planning to make a “cheap B movie”, describing him as “the devil” and “evil”, production manager Terry Bird as a “f****** moron”, and local crew members as “s***** peasants… from Hampshire”.
Earlier on Thursday, barrister Edmund Cullen KC, representing Ms Green, told the court she wanted to make the film but “the financial plan was never going to work”.
He added: “This was, for her, a passion project. The theme of the film concerns an issue of great concern to her, namely the climate catastrophe.
“She loved the script and wanted the film to be made, she bent over backwards to get this done.”
Mr Cullen added: “This case is designed to paint my client as a diva to win headlines and damage her reputation.”
In written submissions, Mr Cullen denied Ms Green had breached her contract and said White Lantern’s defence to her case was “designed to blacken the name of an actor who has not breached a contract or missed a day’s shooting in a career spanning 20 years”.
Mr Cullen later said that Ms Green’s text messages “must be seen in context” of negotiations over buying out SMC in return for rights to the script.
The barrister said White Lantern has “sought to lay every failure of the production at Ms Green’s door”.
He later told the court that the production was in a “state of complete dysfunction” and that the “reality” was “this was a production which could never have actually been made and the defendant knew it”.
The nine-day trial continues, with Mr Justice Michael Green expected to give his decision at a later date.
Ms Green is due to give evidence on Monday.