'The Help' an 'eye-opening experience' for producer Chris Columbus
The filmmaker whose successes have included "Home Alone," "Mrs. Doubtfire" and the first two "Harry Potter" blockbusters is an executive producer of "The Help," the drama that was one of last summer's box-office triumphs. With Viola Davis, Emma Stone and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer in its ensemble cast, the movie based on Kathryn Stockett's best seller makes its Showtime premium-cable debut Sunday (June 24).
Columbus tells Zap2it he looks back at "The Help" as "an eye-opening experience, going to Mississippi and making a film that was a period piece about civil rights, driven by an all-female cast. There's nothing less commercial than that -- according to Hollywood -- but the film came out and did well critically and commercially. It told me, 'Those are the kinds of movies you're going to have to fight for now,' and I'm willing to take that on."
Tate Taylor directed "The Help," and Columbus says he'd like to be the one calling the shots on such projects going forward. "I still want to produce big-budget, fun action-adventure movies, but I don't really have a desire to direct those movies anymore. I want to get to the place I was in my head in the '70s and make those kinds of movies. I look at movies from the '40s and '50s, too, and they're just great stories."
As an executive producer of the CBS reality dating show "3" starting Sunday, July 22, Columbus is making a move into television. He believes his background from many of his films, "The Help" included, will aid him in telling intimate stories suited to the smaller screen.
"I think that's the only time as a producer that I spent every single day on the set, and had the opportunity to actually see the film screened for an audience for the first time," Columbus reflects of "The Help," adding that showing was "emotionally devastating. Our first cut was 2 hours and 45 minutes, so people were literally running to the bathroom and sprinting back to their seats, so they wouldn't miss anything.
"I think I've seen the film 100 times, looking at various cuts and going to various screenings, and I've never gotten tired of it. I was always really moved by the end of it, so I'm very proud of it.:"
"The Help" also gave Columbus "a sense of responsibility," he maintains. "I don't want movies ever to be history lessons, but I want them to moving and funny and entertaining. If I can continue to make movies like that, I may reach a certain level of happiness with my career."