On April 22nd, 2016, The Knockturnal had the chance to attend the Red Carpet for the Tribeca premiere of Mr. Church.
Making it’s premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, Mr. Church, starring Eddie Murphy and Britt Robertson, tells the story of a dying mother and her daughter who hire the services of a cook. What’s supposed to be a six month job for Henry Joseph Church (played by Eddie Murphy) turns into a family bond that lasts forever. The Knockturnal got the chance to attend the red carpet for the premiere and speak with screenwriter Susan McMartin, director Bruce Beresford, and co-star Britt Robertson.
Susan McMartin (Screenwriter)
Q: Can you talk a bit about the inspiration behind Mr. Church?
McMartin: He’s based on a real person in my life, the name I changed but he’s a real person. He is the reason that I became a writer, he was the most important person in my life so when I became a mom, he had passed away. I was always sad that she would never meet him. So I thought I could write a movie where they would meet in the movie and so the story is, as far as the friendship, completely autobiographical.
Q: Can you talk about collaborating with Bruce Beresford, the director, on the project?
McMartin: Bruce was amazing because he loved my script and he was not…he didn’t make any changes to my script unless he had to. He was so loyal to the actual words which is such a rare thing. I was allowed to be on the set at every moment. I’ve never experienced such a generous director towards a writer in honoring the words.
Bruce Beresford (Director)
Q: Speak about what attracted you to this project.
Beresford: Well I liked the script, it’s like any project, you know? If you don’t like the script, there’s no point in doing them. The script was based on Susan’s own experience and I found it really touching.
Q: Can you speak about collaborating with Britt?
Beresford: Britt’s a wonderful actress. She’s tremondously focused and astute and smart. I don’t think she ever…she never blew a line or a word, neither did Eddie. Never!
Q: Speaking of Eddie, it’s great to see him back on the screen in a dramatic role. Why did he want to be involved?
Beresford: We were looking for someone to play the role and I said at one point to the producers, “Why not send it to Eddie Murphy?” And they said, “Oh, you know. Big star, he wouldn’t do it.” Well you never know, you know! He only had it about three days and he called up and said, “I think it’s really good. I’d like to do it.”
Q: What was it like watching him embody the character?
Beresford: He’s a very, very fine actor. He’s got terrific concentration and terrific insight and good taste. People said to me, “Oh he’s late on the set.” Never! Total professional.
Q: That’s what we like to hear! Also, Mr. Morgan Freeman is being honored Monday night by the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Any thoughts on that?
Beresford: Well, Morgan’s a great actor. And so’s Eddie!
Britt Robertson (Charlotte)
Q: Can you talk about the experience of what it was like working with Eddie Murphy?
Robertson: Working with Eddie was…I had no idea what to expect initially, I just tried to be super respectful of him and whatever his process was. But he was incredibly kind and he’s very hard working. His relationship with Bruce was incredible and he would do anything anyone asked him to. I learned a lot from him just how to be professional and also to be considerate of someone’s process.
Q: Do you have a funny story of working with Eddie?
Robertson: Oh my gosh, well, funny stories? I don’t know. I followed him around, I feel like just trying to observe and figure out what’s going on inside his head. He’s a really sweet, kind, smart guy. He’s constantly thinking, constantly coming up with ideas. But this was very much a more dramatic role for him. Not too much goofing around on the sidelines. But he was very, very sweet and very welcoming to me and my process as well.
Q: It’s an extremely emotional story. What was key for you getting into this character?
Robertson: I think just being familiar with Susan’s story, the writer, she wrote such a beautiful script and for me it’s not about emulating anyone’s specific journey in life, it’s just about how hard it may be to tell these kinds of stories. It’s a life story, it’s a very simple, family driven kind of character dynamic and so I think it was just important to be truthful in every moment, to be honest as much as possible.
Q: What would we be surprised to learn about Eddie Murphy?
Robertson: He’s really shy. He’s super shy, like he’ll open up to people once he’s really comfortable, but he’s really shy once you first get to know him. He’s not going to just be open to everyone.
Mr. Church is directed by Bruce Beresford, written by Susan McMartin, and stars Eddie Murphy and Britt Robertson. Mr. Church does not have a release date at this time.