Eva Green: ‘corners were cut’ on film at centre of legal battle

<span>Photograph: Mark Thomas/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: Mark Thomas/Rex/Shutterstock

The Hollywood actor Eva Green has alleged “corners were cut” during attempts to make a failed multimillion-pound film at the centre of a legal battle, claiming the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of an Alec Baldwin film showed what could happen.

Green, who is suing a film company over the collapse of A Patriot – in which she was to star as a soldier – told the high court in London that the film’s executive producer, Jake Seal, and his team had cut down her stunt training from four weeks to five days, which she claimed was “extremely dangerous”.

“You look at what happened to Alec Baldwin on the movie Rust – producers were cutting corners on safety measures which were in place and a young woman got killed,” she said, referring to the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in 2021 in the US.

Green, who is suing White Lantern Films and SMC Speciality finance for her $1m (£807,000) fee she says is owed over the collapse of the planned independent film, was giving evidence on Monday after the start of the case last week.

The two companies are countersuing, alleging that she pulled out of and breached her contract in relation to the dystopian thriller. Their evidence includes vituperative WhatsApp messages in which she referred to Seal and his colleague Terry Bird as, respectively, “pure vomit” and “a fucking moron”. Green is accused of effectively wrecking the film when it became clear the budget was lower than expected and production values could be compromised.

Asked about other messages to her agent, in which she had lamented that she could be “obliged to take [the producer’s] shitty peasant crew members from Hampshire”, Green insisted that she was referring to a desire to work with a “quality crew” who were paid standard rates.

“I have nothing against peasants,” joked Green, laughing nervously, before she added: “I meant I did not want to work with locals who were not experienced. I did not want to work with a substandard crew.”

When it was put to her that there was no obligation to pay standard rates, Green replied: “In order to make a quality movie you need to hire a quality crew who are paid standard industry rates. It’s not over the top, it’s how it works.”

She told the court on Monday that the script for the film had been one of the best she had ever read and she “really fell in love with this story”.

“It was one of the best scripts I have ever read,” she said. “As an actor it was very exciting, as a role of a soldier … was a role I have never played before and it is about climate change and it’s very dear to my heart and important.”

But under cross-examination by Max Mallin KC, a barrister for the production company, she also admitted to expressing fears that the film would become a “B Shitty” movie under Seal, telling the court: “When you appear in a B movie you are labelled as a B movie actress. It could kill my career.”

The star said that she did not care about fees and lived to make good films, describing them as “my religion”.

Green – who agreed that she was best known for her role in the James Bond film Casino Royale – said her description of Seal in messages as a “fucking inexperienced, pretentious moron” was an “emotional response” after she had been “lied” to about plans to shift production from Ireland to Hampshire in the UK. She said that her description of others involved in the film as “weak and stupid”, was “my Frenchness coming out sometimes”.

In her witness statement, Green said she had felt “hurt and shocked” when she learned she was being accused of withdrawing from her contract.

She added: “I fell deeply in love with this project, not only the role, but also the message of the film. I couldn’t imagine abandoning the film, as it would have been like abandoning my baby. It still feels that way.”

The counterclaim alleges that Green was “not in any event ready, willing and able to perform her obligation” while conspiring to give the impression that she was, despite having no intention of participating in the version of the film proposed.

Green had entered into negotiations to exchange her fee for the script rights and Mallin told the court her “ultimate aim” was to “produce a different iteration of the film at a later date in a different location and with a different team, and without the involvement of SMC”.

The case continues on Tuesday.