Other Man, The: Genesis of the Film

“The Other Man,” written and directed by Richard Eyre and starring Liam Neeson,  is being released September 25, 2009 by Image Entertainment.

When Writer/Director Richard Eyre was commissioned to write the script for THE OTHER MAN, he read Bernhard Schlink’s short story and found that the themes drew him to the material in a number of ways: “It was about so many different things that meant a lot to me.  First of all about love, betrayal and forgiveness, but more than that, learning about someone, and learning unpleasant things about someone you think you knew very well and then realising that it’s possible to love the person you didn’t know as much as the person you did know.  So it’s full of things that resonate in everybody’s lives and apart from that it’s about the relationship between a father and daughter.”

Having written a first draft, he took the script to writer Charles Wood with whom he had previously collaborated on ‘Iris’.  He explains: “The way we work is essentially as two people would work if they were sitting on the opposite sides of a desk; it’s just that his desk is about 100 miles from my desk.  So we communicate by phone and e-mail.  For me it’s a wonderfully liberating form of collaboration, because I have a pass at the script, hand it over to Charles, then he has a pass at the script and then I have another pass and there’s a kind of coming and going between us that produces something that has the character of both of us, but is also an entity on its own.”

Tracey Scoffield and Frank Doelger had recently set up Rainmark Films and in discussing what sort of projects they wished to produce, Scoffield, who had spent several years at the BBC and worked in part on Eyre’s ‘Iris’ and ‘Stage Beauty’ mentioned THE OTHER MAN script which she had been drawn to on reading it.  She explains: “I mentioned this story to Frank and it really caught his imagination, so given the fact that I was dying to work with Richard again and that this was an interesting story for grown ups and one that had very strong potential for raising co-production funding out of Europe, we went back to Richard and said, remember that script you wrote, how about giving us the chance to try and make it?”

Adds Doelger: “I was fascinated for a couple of reasons.  I was very interested in seeing a piece of material that was a love story and a drama that could only work for actors in their 40s or 50s – it could only work if you’ve had 20 years or so of romantic life behind you, it would take on a whole new richness.  I was also intrigued by this question of whether or not it’s possible to love two people simultaneously and if in fact there are some people out there for whom one person is not enough, who have very different sides to their character, which means they have to seek out love in several places.  It wasn’t just about an affair or about sexual attraction; it was about a character who felt that she needed two people to complete her.  Richard and Charles had taken these ideas and made them into a very edgy, dark, psychological and quite mysterious thriller that seemed to have every element that we were looking for in this type of material.”

Richard Eyre explains: “What I’m trying to do in the film is hold up a number of questions for the audience, assuming that they’re engaged in the lives of these characters, but the questions are never answered and I don’t think it’s the jobs of people in films to provide neat conclusions.  There is however a reconciliation and a happy ending.  It asks something of the audience and doesn’t do the job for them.”

THE OTHER MAN went into production in February 2008 and was filmed over eight weeks on location in the UK, Ealing Studios and Italy.