Serendipity strikes: How THE TOURIST found its winning chemistry

Assembling a winning team, as any coach can tell you, requires a bit of magic that cannot be predicted nor defined; it requires chemistry. In the current issue of Entertainment Weekly, Chris Nashawaty explains how The Tourist went from a possibility to a completed film in less than a year because of that winning chemistry. In Nashawaty’s account, each key player recruited the next to The Tourist‘s team: Angelina Jolie brought director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck aboard because she so admired his film, The Lives of Others; she presented The Tourist as “a suave cat-and-mouse thriller, like a modern-day To Catch a Thief or Charade.” But the script still had weaknesses: “I found myself apologizing that it wasn’t The Lives of Others [. . . .] It doesn’t have that importance or depth. And he talked about how something that’s a pleasure to watch can be just as important.” According to Nashawaty, Henckel von Donnersmarck left the meeting “knowing he would not only direct the film but rewrite it, too.”

The pair then persuaded producer Graham King of GK Films to join the project, but they were still missing an A-list leading man. “As luck would have it, King mentioned to them he had a dinner date with Johnny Depp the following week,” writes Nashawaty. What seredipity! During that dinner, King asked Johnny, “Before you do Pirates 4, are you interested in going to work?” Johnny was intrigued by the possibilities: “When I read the script, I thought, ‘Hmmm, there’s quite a bit missing here [. . .]. We need to dissect this [. . .] and see what we can throw in there.” According to EW, “Depp liked the idea of inhabiting an Everyman character like the Midwestern math teacher he plays in the film — a regular Joe who goes to Europe for an adventure and finds one on a train after meeting a stunning mystery woman who’s being tailed by the police and a gang of Russian goons.”

There was just one problem: “The Tourist would have to be rewritten, shot, and wrapped in the next five months so Depp could jet off to Hawaii and slather on Captain Jack’s mascara,” says EW. “If they’d stopped and thought about it, King says they probably would’ve talked themselves out of making the movie. But he also knew that sometimes it’s best not to think.” Fortunately for us, they didn’t let the logistics deter them.

The Tourist opens December 10th.

The Zone thanks Emma for sharing the Entertainment Weekly article; you can read much more on the Zone’s News & Views forum.