Eva Green was described as “fragile”, “volatile” and “likely to explode” before the collapse of a multibillion-dollar sci-fi film, a film financier has told the High Court.
Financier and executive producer Alastair Burlingham said he believed Green had become “increasingly difficult, if not impossible to handle” during pre-production on the dystopian thriller A Patriot.
The Casino Royale actress was set to play the lead role in the film, but the production was dropped in October 2019.
The 42-year-old is now suing production company White Lantern Film, claiming she is entitled to her million-dollar (£810,000) fee for the project despite its cancellation.
White Lantern Film filed a countersuit against the French actress, alleging that she undermined the production of the independent film and made “excessive creative and financial demands.”
On Friday, Mr Burlingham, co-owner of the company’s lender, SMC Specialty Finance, began his testimony on the sixth day of the trial in London’s High Court.
In his written evidence in court, Mr Burlingham claimed that Ms Green had been “playing games with the producers”, including producer Adam Merrifield.
He continued: “I had the impression in July 2019, based on my calls with Mr. Merrifield, that Ms. Green was becoming increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to handle, engaged in diva-like and erratic behavior, and based on communications with both producers that she appeared to be emotionally fragile and prone to self-destruction or loss of interest.”
Burlingham later said that in mid-summer 2019 he was “anxious that White Lantern was finding it difficult to handle Ms. Green” and that he was concerned that the actress was “calling all the shots.”
He said: “My impression was that Ms Green’s demands were grandiose and more appropriate for a James Bond film than a five million dollar budget independent film by a first-time British director, and possibly stemmed from a misguided effort to provide ‘executive production services when he simply should have been preparing for his role’.
Burlingham later said that he believed the production delays “had been caused in large part by Ms. Green.”
The actress denies allegations that she was not ready to go ahead with the project, saying in her written evidence: “In the 20 years I’ve been making movies, I’ve never broken a contract or missed a shooting day.”
He added: “I reiterate that if [White Lantern Film] Had you fulfilled your contractual obligations under my contract and asked me to provide my services under my contract, you would have done so.”
During her court testimony, Ms Green said she “fell in love” with the script, but was not called into the studio for rehearsals or stunt training, describing this as “so weird” and then “absurd with a capital A.” “.
Burlingham said that in July 2019, writer-director Dan Pringle “had concerns about Ms. Green’s temper and her acceptance of a location change and a script change at the same time.”
He continued: “Mr Pringle again emphasized how volatile and ‘fragile’ Mrs Green was.”
On Friday afternoon, Burlingham told the court in his oral testimony that “90% of what I heard from these guys was about Eva Green and 10% about the making of the movie.”
Ms Green’s lawyer, Edmund Cullen KC, said parts of Mr Burlingham’s evidence were “exaggerated to dirty his name”.
“I object to the use of the phrase blacken your name,” the financier replied.
Mr. Cullen: “Faming your name… They have no basis in reality.”
Mr Burlingham said: “Are you telling me that I was never told that Mrs Green was temperamental, fragile, likely to combust? That I put that in a witness statement to tarnish her name? Not.
“All these are adjectives, descriptions, that I have been given… He is not trying to tarnish his name, it is what they constantly told me.”
Cullen previously told the court that the case was “designed to paint my client as a diva in order to gain headlines and damage her reputation.”
He added that it was “really extraordinary” that Ms Green was faced with a case where she “was somehow trying to undermine the project all the time by making unreasonable demands.”
Mr. Burlingham is due to continue his testimony on Monday, and the trial is due to conclude next Friday, with a ruling expected at a later date.