|Set in Los
Angeles in 1962, A Single Man is the story of George Falconer, a
British college professor (Colin Firth) who is struggling to find
meaning in his life after the death of his long-time partner, Jim
(Matthew Goode). We follow George through a single day, where a series
of encounters, ultimately leads him to decide if there is a meaning to
life after Jim. George is consoled by his closest friend, Charley
(Julianne Moore), a 48-year-old beauty, and is stalked by one of his
students, Kenny (Nicholas Hoult).
|Complexity of character excites Firth
Man' role draws actor to Ford debut
(Variety, Dec 7, 2009,
by David Mermelstein)
Colin Firth has often
played the flummoxed leading man, but he's as composed as one could be
in Tom Ford's "A Single Man." Firth plays George, an outwardly
constrained gay English professor who's recently lost his partner and
is contemplating suicide.
The attraction for
Firth lay in George's buried complexity.
"I was faced with a
character who has a fastidious exterior but within that experiences
despair, frivolity, laughter, lust, regret, terror, melancholy,
serenity -- all in the same day he's experiencing hysterical grief,"
says the actor. "I don't know how many roles I've had that offer that
range of emotion and experience."
But there was more to
this performance than most of his others that gave the Brit a chance to
really let go.
"I felt at liberty," he
says. "In roles where the writing's not very good, you have to suppress
things. It's frustrating playing someone stupider than you, but I had
the measure of George: He was smart, and the way he masks his massive
despair is poignant. That obsession with external perfection is a sign
of panic. He has to control his exterior world because his interior one
is chaos. His precision is all desperate measures."
Firth conveys all that
without making George an uptight cliche. Nor does his portrayal blare
his character's sexuality.
"It didn't matter very
much," he says. "It's a love story, and love is love. George misses the
love of his life, and that's that. It could be a woman, it could be a
man. His being gay is not the salient feature of what Tom wanted.
George is struggling with an awful lot but not with his homosexuality.
There's a lot of dignity in that."
(W magazine, Dec 2009,
by Bridget Foley)
Ford’s exquisite film
debut, A Single Man, adapted from Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 novel of
the same name, opens on December 11 after making the worldwide rounds
of film festivals: Venice, Toronto, Tokyo, London and, in November, Los
Angeles, where it closed the American Film Institute Festival.
[...] A Single Man is a
pleasure to behold. Gorgeously rendered interiors capture the
characters’ personalities and torment—George’s glass house is appointed
with anal precision; Charley’s living room challenges her daily to keep
up with its midcentury glam (the film is set in the early Sixties). A
mournful beauty permeates even the dreadful scene depicting Jim’s fatal
car crash. Yet most surprising about the film is its subtlety and
poignant, introspective emotional tenor. “There is a good deal of my
soul, if one has a soul, in that film,” Ford says. “I’ve never shown
that side of myself.”
In adapting the book,
Ford cowrote the screenplay with David Scearce. The film presents a day
in the life of college professor George, played brilliantly by Colin
Firth, who struggles to hold his life together after the sudden
death months before of his lover of 16 years, Jim (Matthew Goode).
Julianne Moore portrays George’s friend Charley, a gorgeously turned
out, hard-drinking matron on the precipice of decline, who longs to
rekindle the brief romance the two shared many years before. The film
premiered in September at the Venice Film Festival, where it garnered a
10-minute standing ovation, the best actor prize for Firth (now the
subject of major Oscar buzz) and lavish praise for its neophyte
director. “Tom Ford gets it spectacularly right,” wrote Screen
International. “An impressive helming debut,” offered Variety. And from
the Times Online: “A thing of heart-stopping beauty…. Tom Ford is the
Ford claims to have been unaware of his
before-the-fact naysayers. And though he admits to nervousness prior to
his first day on the set, particularly about saying “Cut!” (“You have
to sound commanding”), he otherwise felt typically confident. “I loved
every minute, every phase,” he boasts of the directorial process,
noting, “I’m best when I’m in complete control.” Yet he understands why
major actors might have had reservations about enlisting. Long
comfortable with new directors, Moore was unfazed by Ford’s rookie
status—neither, however, was she influenced by their previously
existing friendship. “The funny thing was, I’d run into Tom and Richard
[Buckley, Ford’s longtime partner] at the Met ball, of all things,”
Moore recalls. “I was like, ‘Hey, Tom, how’s it going with your movie?
Are you getting it going?’ Because he had always talked about making
movies. And he said, ‘Oh, funny you should mention it.’” Soon after, he
sent Moore the script along with a note saying he had written Charley’s
part for her. They got together and talked, and she signed on.
“The script is what I typically respond
to, and this was really quite beautifully actualized,” she says. “I’ve
had a lot of luck with first-time directors when their material is
strong and their vision is strong, and that’s something that Tom has in
Ford approached Firth
in a similarly personal, if more direct, manner. The two had met
briefly at a party thrown by Madonna and reconnected at the London
premiere of Mamma Mia!, where they were introduced by Tom Hanks and
Rita Wilson. They had a lengthy conversation after which Ford, with the
role of George already cast, vented to Buckley, “Goddamn it, goddamn
it, goddamn it. I need Colin Firth.” In the things-happen-for-a-reason
category, the actor who had signed on dropped out (he was the second
George to flee), and Ford immediately e-mailed Firth at an address
supplied by “the Hankses,” which spiked the actor’s curiosity. “Nobody
who represents me knew he had written to me,” Firth says, noting that
the e-mail was “compelling. It was articulate. It was considered.” And
he was impressed with the material, which he deemed significant and
“not just something that was a study in chic or irony or cynicism or
any of those things that we associate with fashion.” After Ford flew
from L.A. to London to make his case in person, Firth was convinced.
“If I had any doubts about this fashion designer’s vanity project, they
were pretty much gone then…. I thought, This just can’t possibly be a
His and Moore’s
instincts proved spot-on. Ford’s direction, according to Firth,
communicated economically with ample room left for Firth to “flourish
in what I do best,” and elicited stellar performances. The Weinstein
Company bought the U.S. and German distribution rights. “I’ve made
seven movies with Colin Firth, and I think this is his finest moment
onscreen,” says Harvey Weinstein. “Tom has such a great eye, but the
beauty of this movie is every performance is so calibrated and so
nuanced. I thought Tom would get there, but I didn’t know he would get
there so soon.”
Like others involved in
the project, Weinstein notes the film’s universality “Everyone has had
the kind of day that George has, an incredible adventure, and at the
end of it finding peace.” Says Firth, “Anyone who’s ever felt alienated
or anyone who’s ever felt they’ve got to make an effort to face the day
or anyone who’s ever lost anybody will find something in this guy, I
think.” And from Ford: “That’s the thing about my film—it’s the
isolation we all feel and the universal need to connect with others.”
Translation: This is
not a gay movie. While one may assume the sophisticate Ford to be above
so mundane a pronouncement, the marketer Ford seizes that crucial
moment of consumer connection, and if he has to spell it out, so be it.
“I like chocolate cake. Do I define my life by the fact that I like
chocolate cake?” he queries. “For me, that’s what sexuality is. I
didn’t think of making a movie with gay characters.” Yet he wants to
make clear to those who don’t dine at the chocolate-cake table that
there’s plenty of red velvet, too. For the article’s photo shoot, W had
hoped to photograph the director surrounded by his leading cast
members. With all but Moore assembled in London a day or two before the
festival there, suggestion B was a picture of Ford with the featured
male actors. He declined, saying it would send the wrong message, and
subsequently agreed to the photo with only Firth. “I want to make sure
that people don’t think this is a gay film, because it is a universal
film,” he says. “We all go through the same things in life—romance,
grief, isolation, trying to come to an understanding of what life is
about. I wouldn’t want someone not to see it, thinking, Oh, that’s a
gay love story. That’s not the core of the film.”
As George’s tale
unfolds in flashbacks, he plots out his suicide, including his burial
look: suit, shirt, shoes and tie, along with the written instructions
for a Windsor knot. His interest in postmortem sartorial panache goes
beyond even Ford’s own obsession with exacting style. “George, who is
very much my own character grafted onto the character, obsessively puts
himself together because that is the way he holds himself together,”
the director explains. “His inner world and his outer world are
connected, and the only thing holding them together is the polishing of
his shoes, the scrubbing of his fingernails, the perfect white shirt.
If he let go of that, he would collapse. There is an enormous part of
myself that is like that.”...
|ETonline news briefs
(Nov 6, 2009)
The British Academy of
Film and Television swam to the other side of the pond to honor some of
Hollywood's leading talents at the BAFTFA/LA Britannia Awards on
Thursday night......Actor Colin Firth, who was honored for his
humanitarian efforts, had such a busy night, rushing from a screening
of his film 'A Single Man' to the awards, "I forgot my pants. We had to
go back across town," he revealed to ET. He was happy to report that
the film was "warmly received." It was his "first time ever at an event
at the Chinese Theater, which is quite something. I've never been there
for any other reason than…when I was a kid I went and put my hand in
John Wayne's handprint."
* * *
* * * *
Single Man' was screened Thursday night during the Closing Night
Gala of the American Film Institute Festival. The movie, based on
Christopher Isherwood's novel, marks fashion designer Tom Ford's
Tom told ET, "It's the
kind of thing that you dream about. You're not
sure if it'll ever really happen and then when it does, it's absolutely
surreal." New to the process of movie-making, he admitted, "Editing
surprised me. It wasn't hard, I loved it, but I really...didn't
understand what could happen in an editing room."
Colin Firth, who plays
the lead character George, received a BAFTA
Award for Humanitarianism directly after the screening. Tom praised the
star, saying, "Colin as an actor, he is so subtle and nuanced and he
can communicate without moving a thing on his face. He can really
telegraph what his character is feeling and I think he inhabited this
'He's Just Not that
Into You' actress Ginnifer Goodwin plays a small
role in 'A Single Man,' but she enjoyed her three days on set,
remembering, "I got to follow Colin Firth around like a puppy dog." Of
Tom's leap from fashion to calling the shots, she said, "We knew that
Tom knew how to tell a story visually and we found out that he knows
how to tell a story narratively as well. He aesthetically and tonally
knows exactly what he wants."
|Five to Watch from the Toronto Film
(Time, Sept 19, 2009,
by Richard Corliss)
For close to three
decades, Colin Firth has been a reliable, gently charismatic leading
man in the theater (Another Country),
in movies (Bridget Jones's Diary)
and on TV (as the dreamboat Mr. Darcy in the BBC's 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice). But until
now, at 49, he never got that Role of a Lifetime that actors pray for.
George, in Tom Ford's adaptation of the Christopher Isherwood novel, is
it. The movie brought Firth the Best Actor prize at the Venice Film
Festival and was bought for U.S. distribution by the Weinstein Company.
Firth plays an English
novelist, teaching literature at a Los Angeles college in 1962 and
grieving—delicately, obsessively, heroically—for his lover of 16 years,
dead in a car crash. Seeing no reason for his life to go on, George
meticulously rehearses his own suicide, by gunshot, but has trouble
finding a practical or aesthetically elegant way to carry it off. So
over the course of a long day, he listens idly to his colleagues'
worries over the Cuban missile crisis; has dinner with his oldest
friend, a London socialite (Julianne Moore, never more glamorous); and
indulges some erotic flattery from one of his students (Nicholas
Hoult). All these are distractions as George prepares for death in the
manner of a samurai or Roman Senator, and bathes in memories of his
precious Jim (Matthew Goode—Ozymandias in Watchmen).
Ford, the Austin,
Texas, fashion designer who for a decade was the creative director at
Gucci, financed his first feature himself. The director turned out to
be a good investment for the producer. Nuance, not flash, is his forte.
Playing to Firth's subtleties, he photographs the actor's handsome,
mourning face in caressing close-up. (In his professor glasses, Firth
looks like a young, more studious Michael Caine.) Ford is also
attentive to the varieties of Southern California sunlight, which lends
A Single Man an
orangey warmth that should touch all who see the picture. But it's
Firth's performance, as a man bereft, for whom solitude is a life
sentence, that will win audience's hearts. Don't be surprised if he
earns an Oscar nomination to match his victory in Venice.
|“Single Man” Sells Overnight
15, 2009, by Eugene Hernandez)
In a deal reminiscient
of last year’s swift Toronto sale of “The Wrestler,” CAA staged an all
night negotiation, selling U.S. and German rights for Tom Ford’s “A
Single Man” to The Weinstein Company after the film’s first fest
screening here. TWC will release the film this year, making it an
immediate awards season contender, particularly in the best actor race.
Tom Ford’s “A Single Man” came to the
festival last night with significant buzz after a rousing welcome at
the Venice fest last week where it was an unexpected hit. The fact that
the film wasn’t in Telluride, and won’t be at the New York Film
Festival, made it a rare, high profile Toronto fest exclusive with
heat. Based on a Christopher Isherwood novel of the same name, it stars
Colin Firth as a fifty-something man at a turning moment in his life
after the death of his longtime lover. Writing about the film over the
weekend for indieWIRE, Shane Danielsen praised the movie, Firth won the
best actor prize in Venice on Saturday and buzz intensified leading to
Last night, at Ford’s
intimate and beautifully crafted party for this stylish and striking
movie, groups of buyers worked the room and, despite a distinctly gay
storyline, there was little doubt that this universal story of
middle-aged lonliness and isolation in the 1960s would quickly find a
Harvey and Bob
Weinstein were at one end of Jamie Kennedy’s restaurant at the Gardiner
Museum, while Daniel Battsek and a team from Miramax were in another,
Howard Cohen and Eric D’Arbeloff from Roadside Attractions and Eamonn
Bowles from Magnolia Pictures rounded out the roster of industry folks
who casually mingled with celebrities including Firth, Julianne Moore,
Clive Owen and others. CAA sold the film quickly for a U.S. release; IM
Global is handling international.
“We sold it last night
and I made back my money,” Ford told indieWIRE today. “We’ve sold it in
America and we’ve also sold it in most of the rest of the world. It
will be out this year.”
engage 'Single Man': TWC to release pic for 2009 awards season
(Variety, Sept 15, 209, by Michael Fleming and Sharon Swart)
In the first seven-figure pick-up of the Toronto film fest, the
Weinstein Co. has picked up U.S. and German rights to “A Single Man.”
The Tom Ford-directed adaptation of the Christopher Isherwood novel is
fresh in from Venice, where Colin Firth won actor kudos.
Deal was made after an all-night negotiating session between
distributors and Ford’s CAA agents, following a Monday evening premiere
here that was heavily attended by indie distribs.
Those buyers massed at a post-premiere party at the Gardiner Museum,
where Clive Owen was among the guests, and the film’s suitors included
Bob and Harvey Weinstein, Miramax’s Daniel Battsek and Summit’s Rob
“A Single Man,” which takes place in the 1960s and stars Firth as a gay
British college professor attempting to cope with the death of his
partner, seemed like the kind of film that could give a distributor a
chance to enter the upcoming Oscar race, as critically acclaimed
performances by Firth and co-star Julianne Moore are being called Oscar
bait. The Weinsteins, of course, are famous for their awards
maneuvering, so “Single” could be a good match. TWC plans to release
the pic in a limited run to qualify it for the Academy Awards. Pic will
then go out wider in early 2010.
If the fashion designer-turned-director Ford was feeling the pressure
as dealmakers swirled around him, he did a good job of not showing it.
Of course, he is accustomed to unveiling his creations on a runway and
getting an instant reaction from the marketplace.
“Though I’ve gone through this with my collections in the past, this is
so much more personal, and much more a reflection of my soul,” said
Ford, who optioned the novel three years ago, and shot the film in just
21 days. “I felt more relaxed than I did at Venice. It was the first
time I really could sit there and watch the film play to the audience.
They reacted the way I’d hoped, in all the right places.”
While Ford was in mid-sentence, Suzanne Somers, trailed by a
photographer, gruffly barged between director and interviewer, grabbing
Ford, and signaling the shutterbug to snap away, capturing a surreal
moment for posterity.
By the end of the evening, it was the Weinstein brothers who would grab
hold of Ford and his debut film.
Said Ford, “I have always admired Harvey’s great passion for film.
Harvey and I have talked about a collaboration for years, in fact,
since our first meeting more than 10 years ago. I am ecstatic that we
will finally be working together.”
Gives Tom Ford Film Thumb's Up
Sept 14, 2009, by Bridget Foley)
Ford gets it spectacularly right.” — Screen International
No, that’s not a
reprint from a fashion review of yore, but an early accolade for Ford’s
directorial debut, “A Single Man,” which premiered at the Venice Film
Festival on Friday night. Nor was the opinion singular. “A thing of
heartstopping beauty…Tom Ford is the real deal,” proclaimed The Times
Online. “An impressive helming debut….Ford’s largely delicate touch
reps a pleasant surprise,” offered Variety.
A surprise, no doubt,
to many, including more than a few fashion industry skeptics who
doubted Ford’s words, if not his confidence, when, during the media
madness surrounding his infamous departure from Gucci Group in 2004, he
first floated the notion that he planned to direct films.
Ford himself has never
acknowledged such naysayers. “When I set out to do something I have a
very clear picture of it in my head,” he said on Sunday evening. He
spoke from his hotel in Toronto, where the film will be shown at that
city’s film festival tonight at the Isabel Bader Theatre before a
distributor-heavy audience. In his ever-controlled way, Ford admits to
being thrilled with those early reviews. “Well of course, I felt
great,” he said. “I mean, who doesn’t want to read something like
Even before the formal
reviews, the impromptu audience reaction proved impressive. “I was
incredibly nervous, and, well, I could feel the room,” Ford said. “I
could feel that people were breathing and living and laughing and
crying at the right moments, so that was a great feeling. But the
reaction at the end [a lengthy standing ovation] was something I hadn’t
anticipated, although we had had a precursor of it.”
Earlier that day, when
Ford and the cast arrived at a press conference for journalists who had
seen the film, they received their first standing ovation. “I didn’t
know whether that was a normal thing or not a normal thing,” he said.
“I’ve been told it’s not at all a normal thing.”
Conversely, a little
anxiety about securing a distributor is perfectly normal. Ford said
that “the point of Toronto is the real premiere for distributors and
buyers.” Is he excited about that next major step in the process?
Absolutely—but not to the exclusion of other interests. “I’m more
excited,” he deadpanned, “that I just got off the plane with Julie
Christie. Colin knew her and introduced us, and I’m still reeling from
Julie Christie on the plane.”
|Colin Firth wins best actor at Venice
(Observer, Sept 12,
2009, by Jason Solomon)
Colin Firth, the
British actor best-known for appearing as a soaked Mr Darcy in the TV
adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, claimed the most prestigious prize
of his career tonight when he was named best actor at the Venice Film
Firth earned the prize
for his performance as gay literature academic George Falconer in the
film A Single Man, based on a novel by Christopher Isherwood and
directed, in his film debut, by fashion designer Tom Ford. Firth is
married to an Italian and spends much of his time there. Speaking after
his triumph, Firth told the Observer: "I rarely seem to come home from
Italy empty-handed—wine, balsamic vinegar, wife, two
children, and now a nice piece of silverware."
He had earlier given
his acceptance speech in Italian saying the win was "possibly the
greatest honour of my life". The 49-year-old actor, who celebrated his
birthday at the 66th festival two days before the awards, has never won
a major award before, despite Bafta nominations for his parts in Pride
and Prejudice and Bridget Jones's Diary. But his sensitive and touching
portrayal of a gay man plunged into a mid-life crisis after the
accidental death of his lover could see him secure an Oscar nomination.
Set in Los Angeles in
1962, and marked by tasteful costumes, music and production design as
well as fine performances, the film impressed critics and audiences at
the festival. It also stars Julianne Moore and young British actors
Matthew Goode and Nicholas Hoult.
Ford has called A
Single Man the "most personal and artistically satisfying project" of a
glittering career which previously saw him turn around the fortunes of
fashion label Gucci and its parent company LVMH, before setting up a
successful menswear label. He recently designed the suits for Daniel
Craig's James Bond in Quantum of Solace.
Firth's win was an
extremely popular choice by the jury, whose president this year was the
Oscar-winning director Ang Lee. Firth is the latest in a line of
British performers to win at Venice, including Imelda Staunton, Helen
Mirren and Jim Broadbent, and stretching back to Tom Courtenay, Albert
Finney and John Mills.
|From catwalk to silver screen
(BBC News, Sept 11,
2009, by Emma Jones)
Former Gucci designer
Tom Ford has presented his first feature film, A Single Man, at the
Venice Film Festival. The movie stars Colin Firth and Julianne Moore. Until now, Ford's only contact with the
film world has been making the suits that James Bond wears. He's one of
the world's leading designers in men's fashion, accessories and
cosmetics. But what makes Tom Ford think he can direct?
Not only has Ford made
A Single Man but he's co-written and produced it too, adapted from the
book by Christopher Isherwood. He got two Hollywood stars to take the
leading roles and secured a premiere at one of the world's most
prestigious film festivals.
Colin Firth plays
George, a 50-something professor who lost his long-term partner, Jim, a
few months before in a car accident. "I really didn't know much about Tom,"
says Firth, "although I'd met him a couple of times....The way it happened was totally
leftfield, there was no chat with my agent—an email just popped up in my inbox from
Tom Ford....After talking to
him, I realised this wasn't just a vanity project for a fashion
Nevertheless, the film
looks exactly as you'd expect from an artist used to putting on
extravagant shows. From the
moment he walks on screen, George lives in a spotless world of pressed
Italian designer suits, fresh linen and minimalist Scandinvian
furniture. It could be a
Tom Ford commercial for the perfect lifestyle—except George is quietly devastated by
"Lots of people say:
'Oh a Tom Ford film—that must look great,'" says Firth. "But the truth is that the suits I was
wearing are like body armour for my character....You just have the impression that if
George wasn't wearing his tie, his whole world would fall apart."
Julianne Moore co-stars as his best
friend Charley, an aristocratic English housewife. "Tom was very particular about how
things looked," she says. "Sometimes
I've walked on set and the whole production looks wrong, but you felt
that he had considered every last little detail about our characters'
The actress says her
director beat both her and Firth in terms of looking smart on the job. "He always looks great. He wears a black
suit, a white shirt, he's always handsome, never sloppy and he looks
The camera follows a
day in the life of George as he wrestles with his loss, and makes some
momentous decisions about the future.
"It was a very short
shoot, about five weeks," Firth says. "Mainly night shoots. It ended up
that there's a lot of Tom in this movie, but there's a lot of me too."
A Single Man has so far
had positive reviews, with critics commenting the film has substance as
well as style.
"He has put his heart
and soul into this," Firth says. "He's told a tale with courage and
honesty....Yes, people are
fascinated because it's Tom Ford, and some people are sceptical because
it's Tom Ford, so he's going to have to brave some knives which are out
to scalp him—but this film deserves to be judged
solely on its merits."
Firth shares an
on-screen kiss with his partner Jim, played by Matthew Goode, which
will probably garner the same amount of column inches as Heath Ledger
and Jake Gyllenhaal when they made Brokeback Mountain. "They should just grow up a bit," says
Firth of the potential headlines. "I feel the fact my character is gay
has little relevance to the movie....Tom wasn't remotely interested in the
gay theme. Anyway I daresay we aren't the first men to have kissed on
screen—and Matthew was good at it."
|Exclusive! Grazia Talks to
Julianne Moore and Colin Firth
(Grazia, Sept 11, 2009, by Emma Pritchard Jones)
did you end up being cast as Charlie?
Julianne: Tom sent me
the script, and I thought Charlie was a really fun party girl, a faded
look of the film is amazing—how much of that was
J: From the clothes to
the soft furnishings, Tom was very passionate about how things looked
and how things should be. That’s exactly what you want from a director.
Sometimes the production sets I turn up to look wrong, but you feel
like Tom has considered everything down to the last detail. George’s
life was reflected in the modern but conservative furniture in his
house, and my room was exactly how I imagined Charlie’s would be. Tom’s
a guy who looks at the whole picture.
is Tom as a director?
Colin: In the hands of
different director I think the part would have worked out differently
but Tom gave me total freedom to create the character of George. It was
a very short shoot, only five weeks long, and we worked lots of really
long nights. It ended up with a lot of Tom in the character of George,
and a lot of me in him, I feel like we’re created a great person
J: Tom just put his
whole heart and soul into making this movie. It’s not just a fashion
C: People are
fascinated because it’s Tom Ford and people are also skeptical because
it’s Tom Ford, but [the film] deserves to be judged on its own merits,
not because of who Tom is.
but what it like going to work when you’ve got Tom Ford as your
director? Is he always as smart as when we see him?
J: He always looks
great. Tom always wore a black suit and a white shirt, he is never
sloppy. He is always handsome and he always looks like perfection.
|Tom Ford: The man behind 'Man'
brings beloved novel to screen
(Variety, Sept 9, 2009, by Andrew Barker)
There are perhaps few feats more fraught with peril for a first-time
filmmaker than to attempt to adapt a beloved novel: the vicissitudes of
classic literature are often deceptively difficult to translate to the
screen, and if one fails, the effort will likely not be shrugged off as
a learning experience for a novice, but rather as an act of sacrilege.
Yet that is exactly the risk being run by Tom Ford, debutante director,
screenwriter (with fellow first-timer David Scearce) and producer of "A
Single Man," adapted from Christopher Isherwood's 1964 novel, starring
Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Lee Pace and Ginnifer Goodwin. Screening
at Venice in competition, the film is the first completed project from
Ford's newly minted production company, Fade to Black...
Often considered a landmark in gay identity literature, Isherwood's
novel is a masterpiece of empathy and observation, delineating a
single, generally average day in the life of a Southern California
English professor as he deals with the recent death of his longtime
partner. Deliberately paced and filled with interior monologue, the
novel is heavy on detail and subtly revealing turns of conversation,
though it is light on obvious plot, something which could prove
difficult for the first time director.
Ford has been playing the pic close to the vest in advance of its
Venice premiere, forgoing interviews, press screenings and, perhaps
most notable of all, advance sales.
"Interest is huge for the film," says Stuart Ford, CEO of IM Global,
which is handling sales for "A Single Man." "We made a decision not to
do pre-sales, the principal reason being that we want the film's
eventual distributor to make a decision based on the film itself, after
seeing it," rather than gambling on the curiosity factor inherent with
"Even though Tom is an unproven quantity as a director, the film will
play for itself—it's a high-class piece of filmmaking,"
Stuart Ford insists.
|A singular sensation - David
Scearce; Screenplay for A Single Man leads to the Lido
(National Post, Sept 8, 2009, by Katherine Monk)
He runs an animal rescue shelter and practises law, but for all his
experience with beasts and hustlers, David Scearce will find himself in
a completely different kind of zoo when he lands in Venice for the 66th
annual film festival...
So how did a lawyer from Vancouver manage to ink such a huge deal
without a single screen credit? As Scearce tells it, the story revolves
around friendships, trust and having the right connections at the right
"This is my first film and my first script," said Scearce from his
Vancouver office, where he works on aboriginal legal issues. "I wrote
it all on spec, and when it was done, I sent it off to Don Bachardy,
who was Isherwood's life partner and owns all the rights to his books."
Though Scearce says he knew Bachardy, he knew it was a gamble to send
off unsolicited material. "But [Bachardy] was impressed with it because
out of all the adaptations he'd seen, it was the only one that didn't
use a voice-over. ... I used flashbacks instead." ...
With Bachardy's blessing and encouragement, the script made it all the
way to Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles. There, it enlisted the
support of an agent who decided to package the script with the rights
to the novel, and that's when Ford got involved....Ford was looking for
the perfect first project, and A Single Man turned out to be the right
Ford formula. By the time the Hollywood trades started writing about
the deal, Colin Firth was signed to play the lead alongside Julianne
Moore and Matthew Goode.
The film was shot over four weeks on location in Santa Monica, where
the novel was set, and Scearce says he was lucky enough to visit the
production while the picture was up. "I got to meet Colin. I also spent
time with Ford, who is really a one-man show in so many ways. He
surrounds himself with great people and he's incredibly gentlemanly.
You know he's good-looking, but he's very respectful and professional."
Scearce says it was a total high watching his first script make it into
production, but he's hoping the Venice Film Festival experience will
score higher —if only because the hotel rooms are so
pricey. "When we found out about Venice, I was totally excited because
that was the one festival they were really talking about—and it's there in competition, which I
understand is a big deal."
Once A Single Man screens in Venice, it's off to Hogtown for its North
American premiere during the Toronto International Film Festival.
For a man who splits his time between downtown Vancouver and the home
he shares with his partner—and countless abandoned animals housed
at a sanctuary they run—Scearce seems to be taking his entry
into the world of jet-setters in stride. "I'm hoping I can make this
work and really turn the focus of my work around, and be a lawyer as a
hobby and be a screenwriter full-time. Right now, that isn't the case.
My phone isn't ringing off the hook. Hopefully, when I get back from
Venice and Toronto, that will change."
|Tom Ford Film To Premiere in Venice
(WWD, Aug 3, 2009)
Tom Ford’s movie, “A
Single Man,” starring Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode and
Nicholas Hoult, will have its world premiere at the Venice Film
Festival on Sept. 11. It is slated to be the final film screened in the
main competition. Ford directed the movie, based on the novel of the
same name by Christopher Isherwood, as well as coproduced and cowrote
Set in Los Angeles in
1962 at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, it is the story of a
British college professor struggling after the death of his longtime
partner. “The story is a romantic tale of love interrupted, the
isolation that is an inherent part of the human condition, and
ultimately the importance of the seemingly smaller moments in life,”
said Ford’s production company, Fade to Black. Ford said the selection
by the prestigious festival was “a great honor.”
|Tom Ford Revealed
(Vogue, June 17, 2009,
by Colin McDowell)
"I’ve been editing my
film in LA for the last few months and I had a moment of wow the other
day driving through LA, past the Hollywood sign on a sunny day. I
thought that really this was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I
hope I get to do it again every two or three years but I know that if
it was all I did, I’d lose my mind—it takes so long.
"It’s not about
fashion—it’s a screenplay of Christopher Isherwood’s A Single Man that
I wrote, and then directed and produced it. I changed the book a
lot—But I’ve kept pretty quiet about it because a film really needs to
speak for itself. It’s a tiny movie, filmed on a tiny budget in 21
days—set in LA where the book is set.
"People will be
surprised there’s no sex in it—there are some very chaste kisses but
"If you’re a romantic
person, you’ll cry all the way through—it’s the most truthful to my
character that I have ever been, working on this film.
"It’s amazing to be in
a room full of actors and they move and dress and change according to
what I have written for them to do that morning, sitting in my
underwear in bed. It puts you in an incredible position of control to
be directing the life, death, even the clothing of all these people.
And it will last forever. I have a few more ideas in the pipeline but
I’ve only just finished this one so I need to get some distance on it
and decide what to do next."
"I’ve been working with
Arianne Phillips, who was nominated for an Oscar for Walk The Line, on
the costumes. She is a genius—dressing all the cast as well as 150
extras dressed for a certain period on any one day."
"It stars Julianne
Moore, Colin Firth and Nicholas Hoult. Was it hard to get them to do
it? No—a script speaks for itself—at least, that’s what they told me so
I hope it’s true. I guess we sent it to them, they read it, and then
they rang their agents and asked is he safe to work with?
It helps that I know
everyone because I’ve been dressing them so long. I wouldn’t have been
able to do it without all my contacts."
"They are similar in
some ways—both are smoke and mirror worlds."
|What Tom Ford did next
(Times, June 15, 2009,
by Lisa Armstrong)
He’s also just finished
editing his first feature film, A Single Man, with Colin Firth,
Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode and Nicholas Hoult, late of Skins,
performing a screenplay that Ford himself adapted from Christopher
Isherwood’s 1964 novel.
Plus he’s done what few
dare—trespassed from fashion into film. That’s brave. Or insane, as he
knows. He told Moore, whom he’s dressed for years, that she was sweet
do his film. “And she said, ‘I’m not doing it to be sweet. I like the
script’. I’m sure she called her agent though to check it wouldn’t be
There is precious
little overt sex in A Single Man, the film of which we must not talk,
but do anyway. Ford would like to make a film every three years. It’s
very compatible with designing, as he sees it, because it’s so slow.
“And a lot of the processes are the same.” Years of directing ad
campaigns and styling shows meant that he knew how to frame a picture.
And his years as an actor (“a terrible one. I got about as far as TV
commercials”) helped him to understand characterisation. How he
resisted interfering with the costumes—it’s set in 1962, for God’s
sake—I’ll never know, but he promises that he left Arianne Phillips,
the Oscar-nominated costume designer of Walk the Line, to get on with
it. Colin Firth is wearing Tom Ford menswear, however. At a minimum of
£3,000 for a suit, Firth presumably enjoyed every moment.
|Tom Ford: Soon-to-be director
(Marie Claire, May 20,
2009, by Rosamund Witcher)
Marieclaire.co.uk spoke to a source at
IM Global, the sales company looking after the film here at Cannes, and
it seems that Ford is as much of a perfectionist as a director as he
was as a designer. He has kept the entire film under wraps, and won’t
even show footage to international distributors—who are snapping it up anyway. If ever a
man had an eye for beauty, it’s Tom Ford, so one thing we can guarantee
is that it will look amazing.
Like a fashion
collection, he wants to unveil the film in its entirety and intends to
do so at the Venice Film Festival in September. Put the date in your
|Billy Crudup and Matthew Goode reveal
their 'Watchmen' mystery men
(Examiner, Mar 3, 2009,
by Carla Hay)
what can you say about your movie "A Single Man"?
Goode: I hadn’t done anything since
"Watchmen," and Tom [Ford, the director of "A Single Man"] came along
asked me to do it … It’s with Colin Firth and Julianne Moore. My
character plays Colin Firth’s lover. What’s great about it,
particularly as it was being made when Prop 8 was f**king up, it’s a
really sweet love story.
Tom Ford is such an
extraordinary individual. We did our first scene, Colin and I were
sitting in the desert, sort of arm and arm, and it was like three
minutes of dialogue. And Tom came up and was like, "OK, guys, what I
want you to do is keep your chins up, because you’re getting a bit
older than you used to be and there’s a bit of fat that hangs down."
And you’re like, "All right, Tom, thanks for that. Anything about the
scene?" He’s such a smart man and it was a real pleasure.
Ford is known mainly for being a fashion designer. Did you have any
concerns about working with him as a first-time director?
Goode: He’s got a real flair for it.
We had a lady [on "A Single Man"] who was a script supervisor who
worked on John Ford Westerns, and she’d done all you could possibly do
under anybody and she said, "I’ve never worked with a first-time
director who was more prepared." When you think about it, what he does
[as a fashion designer] is so visual anyway. He wants to be involved in
every single part of it … And obviously we look great in it,
apparently. It was a great experience.
|From Watchmen villain to 'sucking face'
with Colin Firth
(Plymouth The Herald,
Mar 3, 2009, by Conor Nolan)
Next up for him
[Matthew Goode] is A Single Man directed by fashion guru Tom Ford
and starring Julianne Moore and Colin Firth with whom Matthew gets "to
suck face with" as he plays his long-term lover. He did admit to
feeling very comfortable in Tom Ford's hands when the love scene was
being filmed between the two men.
|No Hair Off His Back
(Toronto Sun, Nov 19,
2008, by Michael Rechtshaffen)
Colin Firth isn't
anxious to display his entire, uh, range for his new movie, a drama
called A Single Man.
Over the weekend a
request went out looking for a second man, namely a nude photo double
for the British actor, whose job description entailed running to the
ocean, jumping into the waves and then running back to the sand.
casting call specified "NO LOVE HANDLES," stipulating that the
successful candidate "must be willing to shave certain areas if they
don't match the actor (that is, back and buttocks.)"
Given her previous
work, it's unlikely Firth's co-star, Julianne Moore, would be quite so
Firth On Ford
(Vogue, Nov 6,
2008, by Leisa Barnett)
Colin Firth has
revealed exclusively to VOGUE.COM that he has supreme confidence in Tom
Ford's move from the design studio to the director's chair.
Firth will take the
lead role in A Single Man, an adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's
novel of the same name, which will mark Ford's first foray into film
"If he turns his hand
to this with the brilliance that he's turned his hand to everything
else that he's ever done in his life, it'll be a masterpiece," Firth
Following on from his
latest box office hit, feel-good musical Mamma Mia, Firth is certainly
ready to get his teeth into the complexities of his character, a
bereaved gay professor.
"It's the world seen
though the eyes of a man who is seeing things for the last time and it
has a particular resonance for that reason," he explains.
Filming starts this
week in LA, with stars Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode, Nicholas Hoult
and Ginnifer Goodwin also on board.
|Fashion maven Ford adds actors to directing
(THR, Nov 4, 2008, by Gregg Goldstein and Borys Kit)
Ginnifer Goodwin and Nicholas Hoult are about to make fashion designer
Tom Ford less of "A Single Man."
The pair join Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and Matthew Goode in Ford's
directorial debut, an adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's 1964 novel.
Goodwin is Mrs. Strunk, a suburban mom who doesn't share her husband's
dislike of their neighbor, a gay professor (Firth). Hoult will play
Kenny, a sexually ambiguous grad student who shows an unusual interest
in the professor.
Principal photography begins this week in Los Angeles.
Best known as Hugh Grant's young co-star in "About a Boy," Hoult
re-emerged as a star overseas on BBC America's hit UK series "Skins."
"Big Love" star Goodwin next appears in the ensemble romantic comedy
"He's Just Not That Into You."
|Designer Tom Ford shapes cast for his movie
(THR, Oct 29, 2008, by
Fashion designer Tom Ford is getting the cast in place for his
long-awaited move into movies. Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and Matthew
Goode are set to star in "A Single Man," Ford's adaptation of a
Christopher Isherwood novel.
Published in 1964, the novel centers on a gay man who, after the sudden
death of his partner, is determined to persist in his usual routine,
which is seen in the span of a single, ordinary day in southern
Firth is the gay man, an Englishman and professor who feels like an
outsider in Los Angeles. Goode is the boyfriend who dies in a car
accident and appears in flashbacks. Moore plays a friend of the
Ford, who was recently ranked 12th in a list of the 49 men who most
influenced the way other men thought, behaved and shopped, adapted the
screenplay for the independently financed project with David Scearce.
After leaving Gucci, Ford also signed on with Creative Artists Agency
with the aim to slide into the director's chair.
|Firth, Moore, Goode join 'Single Man'
Ford to co-write, direct Isherwood adaptation
(Variety, Oct 28, 2008, by Dave McNary)
Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and Matthew Goode will topline indie drama
"A Single Man," Tom Ford's directorial debut.
Project's produced by Ford's Fade to Black shingle with Chris Weitz and
Andrew Miano of the Depth of Field banner and Robert Salerno of Artina
Films. Film's scheduled to begin shooting in Los Angeles next week.
"A Single Man," penned by Ford and David Scearce, centers on a British
college professor who loses his partner of 16 years. The script's
adapted from Christopher Isherwood's 1964 novel, which follows a single
day in a professor's life in Los Angeles.
Ford spent a decade as creative director at Gucci, where sales
increased more than 10-fold before he departed in 2004. In 2005, he
formed Fade to Black and his eponymous fashion company, creating the
Tom Ford brand.
Foreign sales for "A Single Man" are being handled by IM Global.
|Tom Ford's A Single Man with Moore and Firth
(E! Online, Oct 28, 2008, by Marc Malkin)
Tom Ford is finally going public with his movie plans.
As I was the first to tell you last month, the fashion prince will make
his directorial debut with a movie adaptation of Christopher
Isherwood’s 1964 novel, A Single Man.
I’m now told that Ford will release an official announcement tomorrow.
Colin Firth will star as a gay college professor who is dealing with
the death of his longtime lover. Julianne Moore costars as a lifelong
friend of the professor’s.
While early talk was Jamie Bell would play one of his students, it
turns that role has gone to Matthew Goode.
The story takes place in 1962 in Los Angeles. Filming will begin in
L.A. on Nov. 3.
Ford spoke publicly about wanting to get behind the camera when he left
Gucci in 2004. He acquired movie right’s to A Single Man about a year
|Tom Ford Hooks Up with Firth, Moore and
(E! Online, Sept 22, 2008, by Marc Malkin)
The former Gucci designer is putting the final touches on his
directorial debut of the movie adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s
1964 novel, A Single Man.
Sources reveal exclusively to me that it looks like Colin Firth will
star as a gay college professor who deals with the sudden death of his
lover. The character is helped in his efforts by a lifelong female
friend and one of his students.
Firth’s rep tells me “he’s in discussions” but it’s not a done deal.
Julianne Moore will play the friend while Jamie Bell has signed for the
student role, my sources say. The story takes place in 1962 in Los
No studio is attached to the project, but Ford plans to begin filming
in L.A. in November.
Ford announced in November that he acquired the movie rights to the
The look will be pure Ford. One source says, “It should be very cool
with all those ’60s cars and great midcentury homes.”
After leaving Gucci in 2004, Ford spoke publicly about wanting to get
|New York City