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"August: Osage County" Starts Filming Today

Just thought you'd like to know...

Playwright Tracy Letts, told the Daily News he was "minimally involved" beyond adapting his own play for the screen, was at the first table read last week (they're only rehearsing for a week? Yikes) and said...

Upham. McGregor. Breslin. Roberts. Streep. Lewis. Martindale. Cooper. Cumberbatch

It is the only day in the entire process I'm able to be there. They asked lots of smart questions."

Was one of the smart questions: "Why did they hand something this complex / acclaimed to a filmmaker with only one so-so film (Company Man) under his belt?" because that's what I would have asked. We can only wait and pray and hope John Wells is one of those 0 to 60 filmmakers (they exist) who was just learning on the job the first time 'round and is now ready to really show surgical precision when it comes to dramatic sparks and dark comic beats, and (most especially given the source material's staginess) heretofore completely invisible skill with visual style so this isn't one of those flat movies that everybody thinks should've stayed on the stage where it crackled and slurred and shouted and whispered and lashed out with bony arms reaching for and sometimes grabbing hold handfuls of greatness.

Was one of the other smart questions "Why is anyone (no disrespect to Sam Shepard) playing Beverly? because wouldn't his part have been the easiest to adapt right out if you didn't want a 3 hour movie?"

I'm sorry to start Monday off on such an ornery note but a week without moviegoing is really NOT doing my spirits any good (today I am seeing a movie. I'm on the mend!) On the bright side, even if this is only a hopelessly mediocre film version of a great stage show (think Doubt & Proof) chances are strong that audiences / critics / Oscar voters will like the performances. If it's much better than mediocre I shall apologize retroactively for all my doubts. 'I have such doubts!'


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Reader Comments (27)

Who's playing the third sister? Did I miss something? Weird for us not to have heard about it if they started shooting.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWill h

When you're right, your so right.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

At least they started. I mean, finally! I don't have high expectations but I'm really curious to see what it's going to be. There some things I would gladly not see being part of the script (but I'm afraid they're too explosive to be left out). Hope Meryl and Julia have bad chemistry. In the good sense.
And I hope it will be a hit so that other plays I might never see on stage will become movies.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

Ive has been cast.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

This project has my full confidence. For now the casting has been very smart, not an all stars casting what could have been disastrous. And they have retained the prodigious Tracy Letts for the script (smart again). And for John Wells, I think he is absolutely brilliant with actors and he has directed some of the best episodes of ER and he has been running for many years. The Company Men was his first on screen and I don´t think it´s a so-so movie, I think it´s a good movie, very american way of life for me... good anyway.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHelena

Oh, sorry! The article Nathaniel limks to reports the same thing as mine.
And it's Ivy, of course.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

As many people have said, it is a pitty that it is not being directed by Mike Nichols. It could have been the perfect culmination of his career. And he would have directed his two favourite actresses (Streep and Roberts) in the same film. In any case, I will give a vote of confidence to John Wells.
On the other hand, the cast is really promising and interesting. I think that Julia Roberts can give a great performance as Barbara. Curiously, I am not sure about Meryl Streep (despite how great actress she is), but we will see. What is true is that the film will be a cultivation of Oscar acting nominations...

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbonobo

Ah, thanks for the link, James T. She seems like a decent choice.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWill h

Can we maybe see footage first before we have such doubts? starts already and we are still a year away from release..... I believe there are far more positives than negatives to this endeavor

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJamie


Sorry, this response to anything A:OC-related is now completely involuntary. Especially now that they've started shooting.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Given what John Wells does with the dark, snarky comedic tone of SHAMELESS, I'd say he's up to the task. Let's see if he can pull it off.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

I'd love to be on that set, even if it was just bringing coffees and being yelled at.
I also have my doubts about the results, I fear so much a new The House of Spirits.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

I just read the play over the weekend, and I agree about the role of Beverly. Including him likely means that the prologue stays in, which won't help with the stage-to-film transfer at all.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulian Stark

I wonder if Billy Friedkin would have been a good choice for this material?

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Am I the only one who's hoping that this movie still clocks in at 3 hours...?

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

In terms of the cast, it's all fantastic, especially with that of Margo Matindale. I remember reading the play, and thinking of her! She's been working FOREVER (and the type of career I would like to have actually).

However, the two choices I really can't get over right now is Julia Roberts for one. I mean I like me some JR from time to time, but she all of sudden has two amazing up coming roles that are legendary status in terms of well written theatre characters. One in August, and in the upcoming The Normal Heart. Why her? No matter how you splice it, she's not a strong actress, and she won't give these characters something other people will learn from. Roberts is just not that type of performer. Laura Linney?! YES! Julianne Moore!? YES! Joan Allen?! YES! Those are the type of actresses who DO something and truly create fully realized human beings. When I watch a film, with material at this type of caliber, I want to learn from EVERYTHING, and the actors have a HUGE responsibility in expressing difficult material. JR shouldn't have that type of responsibility.

And sadly, I'm going with Meryl Streep as my other choice. She's OBVIOUSLY one of the greats, but that role had JUDY DAVIS written ALL OVER IT!!!

Meryl is great and probably will act the shit out of the role to a fantastic degree because she is so damn versatile and one of the most interesting actors ever, but this role is not her in my opinion. Judy Davis would have killed this destructive mother role.

That is all.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTory Smith

Totally agree, Nathaniel. A complex play with an unproven director, casting that seemed more intent on getting big names than finding fit, and a playwright who shows up for one day to discuss the play and that's it?

This has very high potential to go the Cold Mountain Oscar route: adaptation of famous work, highly predicted pre-season, disappointment upon release, scrapes by with some noms, and maligned for years.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Well... Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

I am actually more worried about Les Mis and that casting... Maybe that would be a better comparison to Cold Mountain than A:OC

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

I'm totally pumped for this movie. I see Meryl Streep and Margo Martindale as saving this film. This is a huge opportunity for John Wells. I'm hoping for magic.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrandz

Couldn't they have found a part for Patricia Clarkson? I would LOVE to see Patty and Meryl on screen together

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChrisD

The cast is stellar and I suspect the movie will be stellar as well. I know that Streep will knock the ball out of the park with Lett's brillant screenplay. Count on Oscar nominations/wins galore (nate - you can eat crow for days on this project).

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterme

me -- i don't plan on eating crow. I have never claimed it's going one way or another. just that i'm worried. and besides. even if its mediocre people will think it's great (see also: DOUBT)

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

I think Nat's just concerned about the film. He isn't dismissing it.

And Nat, I think they've expanded Beverly's role (just my conjecture) There are some scenes in the film which are outside the house. At least, that's what the Tweets say.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRiemann

You're right Nate. I thought Doubt was great as was Streep.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterme

The play is so great but I just can't get excited about this movie. I'm so tired of Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep and I don't think they have anything new to show us. Every one of their films is just the same rehashing of the same smiles and manners from the film before. They're so boring I almost fell asleep writing this post.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Streep... Rehashing... Wow.... I cannot think of Streep in that terms...

@Frank.... Think you are probably talking about some other actress and probably not the most versatile actress of all time with 17 and counting Academy Award nominations...

September 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Nat, John Wells is a TV veteran. He wrote and directed some of the best episodes of ER, including Such Sweet Sorrow (Carol Hathaway's exit) and On the Beach (Dr. Greene's Death episode in Hawaii). He also worked on The West Wing and Third Watch, and he's currently on Shameless (another show about a dysfunctional family, though a very different one, with a drunkard at its center). I think John Wells can do this justice since he has worked on some of the best television shows in the past, and I know film is a bigger medium, but August:Osage County is a somewhat more intimate story and Wells has experience with intimate stories, both very moving and bitingly funny (again, watch Shameless and see the tone of the show, Wells is one of the developers). This is why I'm a little more optimistic than you are.

September 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale
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