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THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION

THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES
(2001)


This page was created on January 19, 2002
This page was last updated on May 29, 2005

Review & Photos
About the Production
Alleged Sightings

THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION

"I was not interested in making a 'creature' movie. I was not interested in making a sci-fi movie or even a supernatural movie. I describe it as a psychological mystery with naturally surreal overtones."
- Mark Pellington, director

"The Mothman Prophecies" is based on the events chronicled in John A Keel's 1975 book of the same name. It is author Keel's personal account of the occurrences which took place in and around the small town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia for the thirteen months leading up to a tragedy that made headlines around the world in December of 1967.

Told here as contemporary story, the film stars Richard Gere as John Klein, a Washington Post reporter who, following a terrible loss in his own life, becomes caught up in some very extraordinary events affecting the lives of very ordinary people. As Gere describes it,Click to enlarge "This story we're telling is really psychological. My character has gone through a horrendous loss, losing his wife in the beginning of the movie. Everything that happens for him relates to that event, that trauma. So we have our own universe being projected all the time. I think one point we're trying to make in the film is everyone sees something different. It's not like every drawing is exactly the same. Some people hear something, some people see something, and some people feel something. It's the interpretation of reality based on one's mental make-up, one's emotional make-up."

Click to enlargeIt is the psychological aspect of the story that attracted director Mark Pellington to the project. "Richard Hatem, the original screenwriter, did a fantastic job taking this book and putting it into a movie form," Pellington says. "By creating the character of John Klein as the pole by which all of these events revolve around, he established a hero for the story." Of his personal approach to this story, Pellington says, "This is difficult territory, and it's really easy to veer into melodrama or wackiness. It's really kind of unbelievable so you have to go deeper, to a metaphysical, naturally surreal, enigmatic, mysterious emotional place with this material to make it work. Otherwise it's ridiculous."

Though the movie will retain the basic overall detail of the book, executive producer Richard S. Wright gives Pellington credit for keeping the focus of the film on the human story and maintaining the psychological impact. "People have been trying to make a movie of "Mothman" almost since Keel's book was published," Click to enlargeWright says. "There are a number of writers who took various cracks at it but it's a difficult subject to get right. Mark Pellington is the guy who figured out how to do it." Wright further explains, "We decided early on to stay away from UFOs but kept events we found more interesting, such as people seeing strange lights in the sky and getting phone calls featuring strange voices. We're looking at Mothman as a presence. We're not going for the full latex 'Creature from the Black Lagoon' version. Ours is much less obvious and more creepy." As Pellington described to the crew as production began, "We never say 'creature' or 'monster.' It is never manifested in the same way to any one person, although there are similarities."

Lakeshore Entertainment president and producer Gary Lucchesi has been with this project for a long time. It is the believability of the story that convinced him it should be made. "I'm a producer who believes 'If it can happen to me, I'm interested," he says, continuing: "If you think of the great Hitchcock movies - if you think of 'Rear Window' and Jimmy Stewart sitting there with a broken leg and he's a witness to a murder - you say to yourself, 'Well, that could happen to me!' and I find that intriguing. It's very Hitchcockian. It's what happens when sane reasonable people are faced with the unbelievable. In this case the unbelievable is the harbinger of fate, the harbinger of death."

Click to enlargeFor producer Lucchesi, having worked on four previous films with Gere, his casting decision was an easy one. He explains, "Richard is a populist movie star, a man who is very appealing to wide audiences. He was perfect for John Klein." Of the choice to cast Gere as John Klein Mark Pellington says, "He's a great choice. You've got to have a guy that you're going to believe when people tell him that they saw these things or when he says, 'I got a call from an entity named Indrid Cold,' otherwise you'd have to laugh." Pellington went on to say, "Across the board you have to find that perfect person for each part and our mission was to do just that. The material drew the people. It was not hard to get a cast of this caliber and that's a testament to the material."

Click to enlargeWhen talking about the material Lucchesi observes, "What we have always tried to achieve in this script is to create a character in John Klein who is a total pragmatist. He's a writer for the Washington Post. His entire life has been about finding facts. Now he finds something that he can't quite put his hands around, that the most logical side of him knows can't exist so it becomes a question of whether he can believe in something supernatural or metaphysical or more spiritual."

Mark Pellington describes John Klein as, "A very clear rational man, but emotional trauma made him vulnerable, intuitive. He is a loyal thinker, sensitive to events around him."

Click to enlargeGere expands on this idea, saying, "I think there's an openness that this character starts to approach where he doesn't have to have proof of things anymore." What his character ultimately realizes, Gere observes, is something on a very human plane. "I think in this process we have a lot of people on various levels healing themselves and helping each other, which I find valuable in this work. These are people who wouldn't normally even come into contact with each other. My character and Gordon, played by Will Patton, for instance, would never have any relationship outside of what happens in this story and I think a very strange kind of friendship evolves from that." Gere's character and Laura Linney's character Connie also form an unusual bond.

Click to enlargeCommenting on Laura Linney in the part of Connie Parker, Gere says, "I loved working with her on 'Primal Fear' and I thought she was perfect for this. She's believable as a small-town person - smart, open. She would be someone in this town people would trust. Laura's had a life, like we all have, and that comes through her work."

Click to enlargeDirector Pellington also found Connie to be a source of strength for others in the story. As he describes the character, "She had to be strong, you had to feel like there was a backbone to her. You had to feel that there is a sense of fair play and strength and she could jack you up against a wall if she needed to but you have to get the sense, most importantly, that she's a good listener, that she'd be fair." Putting Linney in that part, was an easy choice for the director. "Within five minutes of meeting her I'd seen a range of emotion that just told me I was sitting across from Connie," Pellington explains. "I think she bridges the gap between being a character actor and being a leading lady much like Meryl Streep or Jessica Lange who are also very attractive, but their looks never overpower their believability."

Click to enlargeLinney was enthusiastic about the project, not only for the opportunity to play a very different part - that of a small town police officer - but also for challenge of the story itself. She explains, "It's a very risky project which is one of the reasons I wanted to do it, other than working with Richard again, which is the main reason I did it, and the producers who I've known for a long time. I think Mark Pellington is so visually interesting that he brings something to it that will be a little more unusual."

Review & Photos
About the Production
Alleged Sightings

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