Director of Gosnell movie prepares for filming

Q&A | Nick Searcy talks about what drew him to help make this film and what he hopes audiences will learn from it
by Kent Covington
Posted 9/15/15, 02:32 pm

Actor and director Nick Searcy has played a wide variety roles throughout his 30-year career. He appeared in blockbuster hits like Castaway with Tom Hanks and Moneyball with Brad Pitt. Most recently, he played the part of lawman Art Mullen in the hit cable series Justified on the FX network. But he’s never played a role quitelike this one—directing the upcoming feature film Gosnell, about Philadelphia abortionist and convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell. I interviewed Searcy via cellphone while he was in Oklahoma, near the spot where filming will soon begin.

What is it like being a conservative in Hollywood and having a different worldview from most people on big issues? I don’t know. By people who don’t know me and whom I never talk to, maybe I am treated differently. … I have friends who are liberals whom I’ve worked together with, and they know where I stand. We might even joke with each other about it, but it’s not like they hate me or I hate them because they disagree with me. There may be some people in Hollywood that go, I’m not hiring that guy because he’s a Republican, or whatever they think about me. I work enough as it is. I’m tired. I don’t mind if they don’t hire me for whatever reason.

How far along are you in making the Gosnell film? We are going to start shooting within the next couple of weeks. We hope to finish with principal photography by at least the end of October. We’re just in preproduction now, scouting locations, and getting ready to make a movie. The most frustrating part of making any movie is getting ready and getting casting and finding locations. All of that is finally coming to an end, and we are going to be able to start shooting. That’s when it’s actually fun.

Can you tell me anything about who’s acting in the film? There are still a couple of roles that are up in the air right now, but we’ve got a few days to figure that out. We’re going to start shooting on Sept. 21.

This film is about a man who killed babies who were born alive. It could be a horror movie based on the atrocious things that took place in Gosnell’s office. What is the movie going to feel like? I would call it a courtroom drama. I would also say it is probably going to be like a very good, two-hour special episode of Law and Order. It’s a crime drama. … As much as we can do, as accurately as we can make it, it’s going to be about what actually happened in this case. I’ve felt from the beginning that it was very important that we don’t make a movie here that is trying to tell people what to think about what happened. I think that that happens too often in Hollywood. Movies are made with such a distinct point of view that it becomes insulting, and I don’t want to insult the audience. What I want to do is tell them what happened in this case and let them make up their own minds.

Critics of this movie say it is not a serious film, but a political project designed to push the pro-life agenda. What do you say to that? It absolutely is not that. This movie is not about what I believe. It is not about what the filmmakers believe. It is about what happened in this case. I felt very strongly from the beginning that that’s what the movie has to be. I’m not interested in making a movie that preaches to a choir or that has a particular agenda or a point of view that it is trying to advance. I’m trying to make a movie about an actual thing that actually happened, and make it as accurately as possible. The problem in this case is that nobody knows about it because the media refused to cover it because they were afraid it might support a pro-life agenda.

Do you see any parallels between this and the coverage of the Planned Parenthood scandal right now? There is no doubt, no question that the media lean left. There is just no argument about that. When they confront a story that might challenge their viewpoint, they just tend to ignore it. They don’t want to argue with it. … They just want to pretend it’s not there. I think that’s happening for the most part with the Planned Parenthood videos, much like it happened when this case was going on. It was actually the new media, the bloggers, who broke this case. By the end of the case, some of the national media were there.

Why were you drawn to this project? What does this film mean to you? When I was shown the script that Andrew [Klavan] wrote and really got into the details of it, I just realized how much I didn’t know about this issue, about abortion—what an actual abortion is like—about what the lines are between a legal and illegal abortion. I just realized there was so much about this that I didn’t know, and I couldn’t be the only one. That’s what drew me to it most of all. Here’s a very dramatic case that illustrates some very important information about an issue that everybody seems to have an opinion about whether they know anything about it or not. I just saw this film as an opportunity to actually give people information that they may not have before they go trumpeting their opinions.

Okay, you’re about to start shooting. When do you think we’ll get a look at the finished product? It will probably come out some time early next year. I can’t see that far in advance. All I can think about is what I have to do tomorrow and it’s going to be like that until about Halloween.

Listen to Kent Covington’s full conversation with Nick Searcy on The World and Everything in It.

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