TOKYO ROSE – Writer Christopher Hampton talks about one of Frank Darabont’s Next Projects

     January 1, 2008


I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m a big Frank Darabont fan. Loved “Shawshank Redemption.” Enjoyed “Green Mile.” Thought “The Mist” was a lot better than it should’ve been… especially with Thomas Jane in it. And I remember liking “The Majestic,” but it’s so long ago that my thoughts might not be clear…



So where am I going with this? It seems that Frank is very busy prepping a few new movies, and while all of us knew he was doing “Fahrenheit 451,” did you know he was making a film called “Tokyo Rose?” Me neither.



At the “Atonement” junket a few weeks back, I was able to participate in a roundtable interview with screenwriter Christopher Hampton and he talked about “Tokyo Rose” and his other project… a movie about Coco Channel. If you’re a woman, she’s a very big deal.



Anyway, it looks like “Tokyo Rose”will be the project after “Fahrenheit” and the movie is about “a Japanese American woman who was arrested in Tokyo right after the War, brought back to San Francisco, put on trial for radio propaganda and sentenced to eight years imprisonment and she was completely innocent. It was all a witch hunt. She was absolutely innocent and eventually – in the 70’s – she was given a Presidential Pardon by President Ford.” During the interview he talks a lot more about the project.



And regarding the Coco Channel movie… it seems that Audrey Tautou will be playing the fashion icon and the film will cover two very important years of her life… “just before she became Coco Channel and when she named her first boutique in Paris.”



While a movie about one of the most important fashion designers of the 20th Century might not appeal to all you guys out there… any movie that has Audrey Tautou will get my money, and I know a good date movie when I hear it.



As always, you can either read thetranscript or download the entire interview as an MP3 by clicking here. And if you haven’t seen “Atonement” yet… try and see it in a theater…it’s quite good.




Collider: Can you give us an update on the Coco Channel project?



Christopher Hampton: The Coco Channel project is something I’ve never done before, I’m a consultant. A French friend of mine, Anne Fontaine, who is a very good director and usually writes her own screenplays, is making this film about Coco Channel and working with a young, French writer. He’s never done a period picture before and she asked me if I would go at the beginning – which I did – in the middle – which I’m about to – and then just before they start shooting, to spend a week brainstorming with them and going through the whole script.



Collider: They have a pretty big actress playing Coco in the film. (Audrey Tautou)



Christopher Hampton: They do.



Collider: So are they tailoring it for her?



Christopher Hampton: No, I don’t think so. She happens to look like Coco Channel. I haven’t met her, but apparently she’s very smart as well. I know Stephen Frears has worked with her and has nothing but good to say of her. So no doubt she’ll have her input as well. But this is something I haven’t done before which is kind of being a Godfather to a project.




After we discussed some other things, someone asked about adapting projects… which led to….




Christopher Hampton: I’m doing a film at the moment with Frank Darabont based on the story of Tokyo Rose, who was a Japanese American woman who was arrested in Tokyo right after the War, brought back to San Francisco, put on trial for radio propaganda and sentenced to eight years imprisonment and she was completely innocent. It was all a witch hunt. She was absolutely innocent and eventually – in the 70’s – she was given a Presidential Pardon by President Ford. I started off with a two hundred and something page screenplay because there was so much material and her trial happened to be the longest and most expensive in American legal history at the time – in the late 40’s. There were 54 volumes of trail transcripts, six thousand pages. So it’s all been…I’m slowly… the contours of the story are beginning to emerge and I’m starting to know what I can throw away and what I have to keep and what I don’t need. But that’s with a biographical project. With the Coco Channel project, they very wisely concentrated on two years of her life…just before she became Coco Channel and when she named her first boutique in Paris. So that contains the subject and makes it a little bit easier. But if you’re doing someone’s whole life or several years of someone’s life, it’s always selection and shaping that needs to be done.



Collider: This project you’re doing with Frank, so you’re writing this for Frank?



Christopher Hampton: Yeah.



Collider: What’s he like…because he’s famous for being a writer/director…so what’s it like writing for a writer?



Christopher Hampton: It’s great, actually. He’s very sympathetic. I said to him when we first met, ‘why aren’t you writing this yourself?’ and he said, ‘well you will have noticed that I am whatever age I am and I’ve made three movies. I would like to make some more movies and maybe I have to get someone to write them because it takes me so long.’ So we are…I think he was wrong thinking it would be quicker working with me…cause we’ve been on it for a couple of years already.



Collider: So where is the project in his arsenal of…



Christopher Hampton: Well we’ve had to suspend everything because of the strike. But what we had intended to do was get together once The Mist opened, which it just did… but we can’t do that now until the strike’s over.



Q: He also has Fahrenheit 451 coming up and another Stephen King adaptation. So where might Tokyo Rose be?



Christopher Hampton: Well hopefully between Fahrenheit 451 and… well Fahrenheit is his passion project that he’s had waiting to go for years and years and years. So he’s very excited about that. But we’ll see as you can never predict what will happen.




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