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Eva Green described by film financier as ‘volatile and likely to combust’

Eva Green (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)
Eva Green (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

Eva Green was described as “fragile”, “volatile” and “likely to combust” ahead of the collapse of a multimillion-pound sci-fi film, a movie financier has told the High Court.

Financier and executive producer Alastair Burlingham said he believed Ms Green had become “increasingly hard, if not impossible to manage” during the pre-production of dystopian thriller A Patriot.

The Casino Royale actress was due to play the lead role in the film, but the production was abandoned in October 2019.

The 42-year-old is now suing production company White Lantern Film, claiming she is entitled to her million-dollar (£810,000) fee for the project despite its cancellation.

White Lantern Film is bringing a counterclaim against the French actress, alleging she undermined the independent film’s production and made “excessive creative and financial demands”.

On Friday, Mr Burlingham, the co-owner of the company’s lender SMC Speciality Finance, began his evidence on the sixth day of the trial at the High Court in London.

In his written evidence to the court, Mr Burlingham claimed Ms Green had been “playing games with the producers”, including producer Adam Merrifield.

He continued: “I formed the impression in July 2019, based on my calls with Mr Merrifield, that Ms Green was increasingly hard if not impossible to manage, was engaging in erratic and diva-like behaviour, and based on communications with both producers that she appeared to be emotionally fragile and liable to self-destruct or lose interest.”

Mr Burlingham later said that by mid-summer of 2019 he was “anxious that White Lantern was finding it difficult to handle Ms Green” and that he was concerned the actress was “calling all the shots”.

He said: “My impression was that Ms Green’s demands were grandiose and more appropriate to a James Bond film than a five-million-dollar budget independent film from a first-time British director, and possibly borne out of a misguided effort to provide ‘executive producing’ services when she should have simply been preparing for her role.”

Mr Burlingham later said he believed delays to the production “had in large part been caused by Ms Green”.

The actress denies allegations she was not prepared to go ahead with the project, saying in her written evidence: “In the 20 years that I have been making films, I have never broken a contract or even missed one day of shooting.”

She added: “I reiterate that if [White Lantern Film] had fulfilled its contractual obligations under my contract and had called on me to provide my services under my contract, I would have done so.”

During her evidence in court, Ms Green said she “fell in love” with the script but was not called to the studio for rehearsals or stunt training, describing this as “so strange” and later “absurd with a capital A”.

Mr Burlingham said that in July 2019, writer and director Dan Pringle “had concerns about Ms Green’s temperament and her agreeing to both a change of location and a script change at the same time”.

He continued: “Mr Pringle again stressed how volatile and ‘fragile’ Ms Green was.”

On Friday afternoon, Mr Burlingham told the court in his oral evidence that “90% of what I heard from these guys was about Eva Green and 10% about making the film”.

Ms Green’s barrister, Edmund Cullen KC, said parts of Mr Burlingham’s evidence were “exaggerated to blacken her name”.

“I object to the use of the phrase blacken her name,” the financier replied.

Mr Cullen: “Tarnish her name…They have no basis in reality.”

Mr Burlingham said: “You are telling me that I was never told that Ms Green was temperamental, fragile, likely to combust? That I put that into a witness statement to tarnish her name? No.

“These are all adjectives, descriptions, given to me…It’s not trying to tarnish her name, it is what I was told consistently.”

Mr Cullen previously told the court the case was “designed to paint my client as a diva to win headlines and damage her reputation”.

He added it was “really extraordinary” that Ms Green was faced with a case that “she was somehow trying to undermine the project all along by making unreasonable demands”.

Mr Burlingham is due to continue his evidence on Monday, and the trial is due to conclude next Friday, with a ruling expected at a later date.