New Delhi, Oct 10 (PTI) Ridley Scott's fast pace filmmaking style and eye for detail made the four-time Oscar nominated director the right person to helm the upcoming historical drama "The Last Duel", say the film's stars Jodie Comer, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.
A 20th Century Studios film, "The Last Duel" is a gripping tale of betrayal and vengeance set against the brutality of 14th century France. Based on actual events, the historical epic unravels long-held assumptions about France's last sanctioned duel between Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris, two friends turned bitter rivals.
In 1386, Marguerite de Carrouges (Comer) claims she has been raped by her husband's best friend. Her husband, knight Jean de Carrouges (Damon), challenges his friend and squire Jacques Le Gris, played by Adam Driver, to trial by combat.
Comer, star of the BBC series "Killing Eve", said her co-star Damon gave her a "little heads-up" about the director's style of filmmaking ahead of the shoot as they had previously collaborated on the 2015 sci-fi drama "The Martian".
"I remember when I met Matt early on and he was like 'you should know that Ridley works at a pace. He has four-five cameras rolling, it's fast.' Then I got to set, I was like no kidding! "It was really fascinating to see how he makes his decisions, his attention to detail whether it's through the characters in the story or the locations and the set design. The film has a lot of heart but it's also a spectacle. It has the fighting, he's so great at that," Comer said at a global press conference, also attended by PTI, on Saturday night.
"The Last Duel" is based on the book of the same name by Eric Jager, with a screenplay by Nicole Holofcener, Affleck, and Damon.
While Affleck and Damon, who previously co-wrote the Oscar winning film "Good Will Hunting" (1997), penned the first two acts from the perspective of the two duelling knights, Holofcener handled Marguerite's point of view on the events.
"I was so fascinated by the structural bit and this idea that we have three perspectives but ultimately there's one truth," Comer further said.
The moment Damon saw the cover of the book, the actor said he thought of Scott, who made his directorial debut with the 1977 historical drama "The Duellists".
The "Bourne" film series star said he was looking for something after "The Martian" to collaborate with the filmmaker known for iconic movies like "Gladiator" and "Blade Runner".
"With four-five cameras at a time... the amount of momentum you get... all of the energy you get right on the floor... you can have your agent negotiate for a trailer except that you're never going to go there except to put your clothes in the morning. It's really exciting. I originally gave him the book and he said right away he wanted to do it." During their search for a writer to adapt the book, Damon told co-star and close friend Affleck about the idea.
"And he was like 'Why don't we write it?' I was like 'You want to write that?' So it kind of happened organically and quickly. We started writing and Ridley had another movie he was going to do. He went 'I'm not doing that movie anymore, I want to do this!' We begged Nicole to join us and she did, and then we were off to the races. He (Scott) was the perfect guy to do it," he said.
Affleck said Scott's filmmaking was "so impressive, energising and makes you feel so alive".
"As a director I thought, I'm gonna steal this," the actor, who has directed films like "Argo" and "Gone Baby Gone", quipped.
Damon further said they were "scared" to write the film, which comes 25 years after "Good Will Hunting" "We were concerned that we are going to muff it up," he said.
The screenwriters started the work on the film before the coronavirus pandemic hit and brought in Holofcener to pen the third act which depicts "the truth", the perspective of Marguerite.
Holofcener, who received an Oscar nod for adapted screenplay for 2018's "Can You Ever Forgive Me?", said writing the third act was a "collaborative" process.
"Matt and Ben also had a hand in it because it had to be part of a whole movie. And when smart writers have ideas one should take them. Between Jodie, the other actors and them, it was really collaborative," she said.
The writer said she was initially unsure about taking up the project.
"Matt and Ben had already started writing and decided to write it in this three part point of view kind of way. They asked me to come and write the last part. I was thrilled, they didn't have to beg me. I wasn't sure if I could do it but I did." Since there were not many historical records about Marguerite, Holofcener had to "create the world" of the character almost from scratch, said Damon.
"The construct was that the world of women was totally ignored and was invisible for the first two acts. Then it's revealed in the third act. Ben and I were adapting a book, Nicole was really writing an original screenplay. The men of the time took very fastidious notes about what they were all up to but they didn't record what the women were doing." Affleck praised Comer for being "smart and brave enough" to play this role through which they wanted to "exploit the facts that historically people are in many ways accustomed to women being secondary or tertiary characters ." "It (the performance) feels like versions of women we've seen in movies before... Jodie was willing to play that and makes the reveal so much more powerful and elegant to see the difference between essentially a two-dimensional person and a fully realised three dimensional human being," he said.
The actor, who plays the role of Count Pierre d'Alencon, added that they wanted to "indict the abhorrent value system" of the medieval times.
"The Last Duel" is slated to be released on October 22 in theatres across India.