For the first time ever, Gil and I talk about Gil’s last big studio movie, VALKYRIE starring TOM CRUISE and directed by BRYAN SINGER. Bryan asked Gil to produce Valkyrie for him after Gil produced SUPERMAN RETURNS which Bryan also directed. Making Valkyrie changed Gil’s life. That is, it changed the direction his life took. For starters, making a story about Germany during WWII – about the Nazi hierarchy – was challenging to Gil; he grew up in the war’s shadow. In fascism’s murderous shadow. But, this was a story, Gil thought, that the world had to hear.
Claus von Stauffenberg was German royalty. A career soldier, he lost his left eye and right arm while fighting in North Africa. As the war began to bog down, a group of concerned army officers and business leaders met in secret. They plotted to assassinate Hitler, seize control of the government and sue the Allies for peace. Von Stauffenberg joined the plot, knowing (as they all did) what failure would cost.
An AMAZING Story
It’s an amazing story that too few people know. And it made a very good movie – a solid historical thriller. As we’ll tell, The reason Tom Cruise played the part is because he wanted to – and because his company offered to put up a chunk of the original budget. Cruise is actually right for the part in lots of ways. For starters, he’s very good at being stoically heroic.
He’s likeable, too – in that “Tom Cruise” way. That helps a lot to alleviate the lingering “But, Von Stauffenberg was still a Nazi!” taste.
As Gil describes the process, making Valkyrie challenged him on multiple levels starting with the subject matter. Making a story about that subject matter in German – in Berlin no less – presented a host of other challenges. Bryan Singer and Gil are both Jewish. Cruise is (famously) a Scientologist. Germany is very sensitive about its past and how movies and TV shows portray that past. Between the emotions and the logistics, making Valkyrie required every last one of Gil’s considerable producing skills.
This marks the first time Gil and I have talked about “Valkyrie” and how making “Valkyrie” changed Gil’s life. Shortly after making “Valkyrie”, Gil more or less quit the movie business and devoted his life and energies to raising money for America’s veterans.
A Higher Purpose – The Veterans
In the vets, Gil saw a higher purpose than making movies and plunged himself into it.
But then – so the story goes – Gil and Alan started making this podcast. And making this podcast together rekindled their creative relationship and their friendship.
So, for this Thanksgiving, we’re serving up a heaping portion of moviemaking goodness – how Gil and Tom Cruise and Bryan Singer (and an amazing cast) made “Valkyrie”. Each of them felt they had to make this movie.
Now, just wanting to make a movie doesn’t guarantee you a happy, pleasant experience. A lot of factors will ultimately determine that. But, having made “Bordello Of Blood”, Gil and I both can attest to the soul crushing nature of making movies you don’t want to make. Gil very much wanted to make “Valkyrie”. That didn’t make the experience any happier.
It doesn’t get much more “Inside Baseball” than this episode…