MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Sog.: dal racconto omonimo della raccolta Rope Burns: Stories from the Corner (2000) di F.X. Toole. Scen.: Paul Haggis. F.: Tom Stern. M.: Joel Cox. Scgf.: Henry Bumstead, Jack G. Taylor Jr. Mus.: Clint Eastwood. Int.: Clint Eastwood (Frankie Dunn), Hilary Swank (Maggie Fitzgerald), Morgan Freeman (Eddie ‘Scrap-Iron’ Dupris), Jay Baruchel (Danger Barch), Mike Colter (Big Willie Little), Lucia Rijker (Billie ‘The Blue Bear’), Brían O’Byrne (padre Horvak), Anthony Mackie (Shawrelle Berry), Margo Martindale (Earline Fitzgerald). Prod.: Clint Eastwood, Albert S. Ruddy, Tom Rosenberg, Paul Haggis per Lakeshore Entertainment Group, The Malpaso Company. DCP.
I was driving in my car when I heard F.X. Toole being interviewed on the radio. I pulled over to write down his name and the title of the book, which had just been published, Rope Burns. Around six months later, I acquired the rights of one of the stories and I wrote a screenplay just for my own pleasure, without any remuneration, as I’d done with Crash. After a year, my friend Bobby Moresco came to my rescue. I’d tried to cram five stories into one. He helped me to edit all that and to combine just two stories. It wasn’t straightforward – there’s a mistaken belief that it’s easier to adapt existing material than to write an original story. But I was able to use parts of my own life, taking inspiration from the difficult relationship I’d had with my daughter at one time. After finishing the screenplay, we managed to get interest from Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman, and I started shooting Crash. Then I sent Million Dollar Baby to Clint Eastwood, because I could see him in the role of Frankie. He said yes, then he asked innocently, “Could I also direct the film?” He was unaware that from the start I’d planned to direct it … But I said to myself, “This is Clint Eastwood! When will you get another chance to work with him? Besides, he’ll do a much better job than you!” So I replied that I’d be honoured if he would direct the film and if we shared the role of producer. At this stage, I hadn’t met him yet. After the conversation when he told me about Flags of Our Fathers, I said to him, “By the way, you’ve got my first draft of Million Dollar Baby. We should meet up to discuss your ideas so I can incorporate them.” He replied, “No, the script is good.” So he filmed my first draft. I was blown away. And impressed by that level of trust. That’s why writers and actors love him so much. He expects a lot of you. He trusts you completely, and if you don’t make it on your own, he’ll help you out. That kind of trust is very rare in Hollywood.
Paul Haggis, in Michael Henry, Entretien avec Paul Haggis, “Positif ”, n. 552, February 2007