The actor is suing for her £830,000 fee for a film that was never made. And her honest, haughty imperiousness deserves a standing ovation
Tangible contempt … Eva Green at 2022’s Sitges film festival . Photograph: Carlos Dafonte/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock
A lot of Eva Green’s success is down to her sense of unknowable mystique. This is a woman who steers clear of the celebrity circuit, who isn’t given to blurting her every waking thought on social media. Interviewers perennially struggle to get to her core. Since her breakthrough in Bertolucci’s The Dreamers almost two decades ago, Green has preferred to let her work speak on behalf of her. She is an enigma, an image on a screen upon which we can project our own feelings.
Or at least she was, because loads of Eva Green’s WhatsApp messages have been read out in court, and hoo boy!
Let’s deal with the court case briefly. In 2019, Green signed up for A Patriot, a science fiction movie that would also star Charles Dance and Helen Hunt. The film – about a Border Corps captain in an authoritarian futuristic state – was never made. When the production hit the skids, Green sued producers for her £830,000 fee (almost a quarter of the film’s total budget). And this caused the producers to countersue, claiming that the reason the film was never made was because Eva Green tried to sabotage it. She argues that she did everything that she could to fulfil the terms of her contract and denies “in its entirety” the allegation that she did not want the project to succeed.
But the ins and outs of a low-budget British movie production isn’t why anyone cares about this story. No, the thing that has grabbed everyone’s attention is how Eva Green texts. Because it turns out that she isn’t an enigma so much as the world’s most hysterically gobby diva.
According to court papers, WhatsApp exchanges revealed in advance of the trial, which starts on Tuesday, show Green calling Jake Seal, one of the film’s executive producers, “evil”, a “madman”, a “devious sociopath” and, my favourite, “pure vomit”. Less strong, but equally hilarious, words were reserved for another executive producer, Terry Bird, whom she called “a fucking moron”. Together, she said, they were “arseholes”.
The texts seem to stem from Green’s frustrations with the film’s budget, which was apparently half the figure she had been told. Allegedly, she had also initially been granted “rights of approval” regarding the hiring of production staff, to ensure “the film would be as good as it could be”. The producers, however, claim that she simply demanded to handpick certain members of the crew – an assistant and driver, a makeup artist, a dialect coach and script supervisor – and that, when her request was denied, she wrote to her agent stating that she would be “obliged to take [the producer’s] shitty peasant crew members from Hampshire”.
Now, there are two ways to look at this. The first is to be sad that it is even happening at all. For a film to be cancelled so near to production is heartbreaking, and for it to end up like this – in court, with all manner of private correspondence leaked to the world – is ugly and demeaning for everybody involved. As recent trials (such as the ones involving Johnny Depp and Rebekah Vardy) have shown, very little in life is as humiliating as seeing your private messages amplified and distributed for entertainment. However this court case ends, nobody is going to win.
Luckily, there is a second way to look at it. And that is to read Eva Green’s texts – the messages she wrote in confidence during what sounds like a truly painful time in her life – and just give the woman a massive standing ovation. Because while we live in an age where every celebrity on Earth is straining at the bit to make little YouTube videos where they answer Google questions or eat snacks go viral, it is clear that Eva Green will do whatever she can to separate herself from the rest of us.
Seriously. It is 2023. When was the last time you heard anyone at all unironically refer to other people as “peasants”? It doesn’t happen. Even the people who might think of other people as peasants are wise enough not to actually say it out loud, because they know how colossally out of touch they’ll sound.
Not Eva Green, though. She’s haughty and imperious. She knows exactly where she stands in the world, and she would rather die than hang around with the likes of us. Her contempt is tangible and, really, isn’t that exactly what we want in a movie star? Don’t we all, deep down, aspire to be so insulated and untouchable that we can call people arseholes and morons and vomit in text messages? Don’t we want our children to be so well paid that they can toss around the word “peasant” with abandon, and somehow have it reinforce their personal brand?
Honestly, the only thing better than Eva Green’s texts would be learning that she dictates them to a quivering assistant from a velvet chaise longue, because she simply cannot summon the effort to manually type them out herself. Because that would be true star behaviour.