Actress Eva Green has won a legal case in the High Court over her $1m (£810,000) fee for a sci-fi film that was never produced.
The star of Casino Royale took legal action against White Lantern Film, stating that she was owed the amount after the project collapsed amid a dispute with producers. The film company claimed that Ms Green’s “unreasonable demands” had led to the collapse of the film, titled A Patriot.
White Lantern has expressed disappointment with the judgment and is considering an appeal. During the trial in January, text messages were revealed in which Ms Green called one producer a “moron” and another “evil”. The court rejected White Lantern’s counterclaim and ruled that the actress was entitled to her fee.
He said Ms Green “did not renounce her obligations” under her contract, as White Lantern had claimed, “nor did she commit any repudiatory breaches of it”.
Mr Justice Green added: “There is no doubt that Ms Green did not make any conclusive decision or statement that she would not comply with her obligations under the artist agreement.
“Nor could anyone have reasonably understood her to have made such a decision.”
However, the judge also described Ms Green as “in some senses a frustrating and unsatisfactory witness”.
Giving evidence in January, the actress was asked about messages she wrote about the film-makers, including one in which she described two of them as “weak and stupid”.
She explained that comment by telling the court: “It’s my Frenchness coming out sometimes. Sometimes you say things you don’t actually mean. Of course they are not weak and stupid.”
In his judgement, Mr Justice Green continued: “For such a perfectionist in her art, she was surprisingly under-prepared for her evidence.”
He said he understood “the torment it must have been for her to have all her private texts and WhatsApp messages revealed in open court”.
“She said it was ‘humiliating’ but some of her explanations for the language she used and the feelings she expressed – such as they were down to her ‘Frenchness’ – were not credible or adequate,” he said.
“However, I do think allowances need to be made for the heightened emotions that were clearly present when some of the messages were written and for the fact that these were assumed to be personal correspondence between friends that would never have been imagined to be seen by anyone else and certainly not analysed to the extent they were.”
In court, Eva Green expressed her dissatisfaction with the producers, citing disorganized preparations and budget cuts that resulted in filming being relocated from Ireland. She also raised concerns about safety due to cuts to her stunt training and low pay for the crew. In addition, she was found to have referred to crew members as “peasants… from Hampshire” in a text message.
She explained to the court: “I have nothing against peasants. I didn’t want to work with a sub-standard crew. I wanted to work with a high-quality crew who just wanted to be paid standard industry rates.”
Mr Justice Green decided that, while Ms Green “may have said some extremely unpleasant things” about the producers and crew, “this was born from a genuine feeling of concern that any film… would be of very low quality”.
The actress released a statement following the judgement, saying her “professional reputation has been upheld”.
During the trial, the media coverage of her messages and actions “felt like being set upon by hounds”, she said.
“I found myself misrepresented, quoted out of context and my desire to make the best possible film was made to look like female hysteria. It was cruel and it was untrue,” she said.
“As a result of this case, the cat’s well and truly out of the bag that I am mildly terrified of public speaking, that I don’t understand technical financial structures, that I am fragile in the face of aggression, that I’m passionate about my work and that my heart breaks when people are unkind.”
She added: “I fought tooth and nail to defend the beautiful film that I loved and had signed on for.”
White Lantern Film argued during the trial that Eva Green’s expectations for the film were not realistic given the budget, and that she had made unreasonable demands regarding the crew, locations, and equipment.