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Douglas, Schumacher support tsunami victims

Category: Phantom of the Opera News
Article Date: January 24, 2005 | Publication: The Philippine Star | Author: Maridol RaŮoa-Bismark

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Bangkok Ė This time, heís doing it for charity. Writer-producer-director Joel Schumacher traveled halfway around the world not only to promote his film, The Phantom of the Opera, and receive his Career Achievement Award at the ongoing Bangkok Film Festival. More importantly, the New York-based director wanted to show his full support for the tsunami victims in Thailand.

With him are two of his stars, Gerard Butler and Miranda Richardson.

Schumacher agreed to donate 100 percent of the earnings from the Asian premiere of the movie at Siam to the tsunami fund. This is on top of the $250,000 donation from the Hollywood Foreign Press which handles the Golden Globe awards.

"I hope the Thais feel the outpouring of heartbreak and emotion that come from our country. I want you to know that we are with you. Itís wonderful that we can work together as part of a creative community. Itís another moment to see the world coming together (for a cause)," he said.

Richardson echoed her directorís views.

"I was excited about coming to Thailand when I learned about the Bangkok International Filmfest," she revealed. "This was planned before the tsunami. When it struck, I was shocked and saddened, thinking that everything would be cancelled."

But when she arrived at the filmfest, Miranda was happy at what she saw.

"We are joining everybody in celebrating the courage to go ahead and to reinforce our connection with each other. It makes you want to connect and to reach out," Miranda continued.

Schumacher has other reasons to be proud of his movie version of Phantom.

Since itís an independent film produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Eli Richbourg, Schumacher is proud of the fact that he did not have to compromise as a director.

"We were the bosses. Andrew made the music and I made the film. They let me cast the film the way I want it," he said.

Butler didnít expect the project would turn out to be huge and grandiose.

"The surprise for me when I arrived at the studio was seeing the scope, the scale and spectacle of the production. I realized there is something special," he said.

Schumacher will be the first to agree his films must touch on something special enough to make the audience react.

"If the film affects you for two hours, then youíve done something," he stated. "A film must work on all levels."

A director unafraid to make emotionally-disturbing films (A Time to Kill) and an actor willing to play equally-turbulent characters (One Flew Over the Cuckooís Nest, Fatal Attraction, etc.) are a good combination.

This, Schumacher and Michael Douglas found out for themselves and are still rediscovering to this day. The air at the Shangri-La Hotel function room turned electric when Michael Douglas entered the room and hugged Schumacher, his friend.

Douglas came as a Unicef ambassador, donating a check from the Bangkok International Film Festival to the tsunami victims, and giving it to the Thai government.

Face to face again with Schumacher, his friend of more than two decades, Douglas waxed nostalgic.

"We met in the early í70s when I was a struggling actor and he a struggling costume designer. We used to go to Hollywood parties and we couldnít find our name in any of the tables. So we sat in the table always reserved for extras and which didnít have any names," recalled Douglas. "We developed this sense of humor about the industry and the hierarchy around which it evolves."

Schumacher and Douglas worked together in Flatliners and Falling Down.

"Joel has a great eye. Actors love to work with him and admire him as a human being. Joel loves actors. Youíll be surprised how many directors do not love actors or wish they were actors themselves," observed Douglas.

"Joel makes me feel like Iím embraced and in a safe place," he added.

The admiration and affection is mutual.

Schumacher remarked, "Michael gave me the final cut. This means movie studios canít force you to edit the film the way they want you to. Itís the most cherished gift a director can receive."

Douglas stood as presenter of Schumacherís award at the Sirikit Convention Center where awards were given in different categories to participating entries in the filmfest.

Aside from Schumacher, this yearís honorees are Annette Bening (Being Julia) for Best International Actress (an award Jeremy Irons received on her behalf) and cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (Alexander).

More than 150 films are entered in the event, now on its third year. The film festival ends today.


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