Keaton got Donald O'Connor, Chaplin got Robert Downey, Jr., and if screenwriter Samantha Husik has her way, Max Linder would be brought to life by the mega-talented Depp. Husik, a graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts film program, is the author of a new screenplay about Linder's life and career that she is currently shopping around. I put Linder and Depp into my handy-dandy Morphomatic™ and this is what I got:
Hey, not bad. You're hired!
I caught up with Samantha in the neighborhood, and asked her a few questions.
What first got you interested in Linder?
I had never heard of or seen Max before I saw Laugh with Max Linder on Netflix Watch Instantly. I thought, “Who is this guy and why haven’t I seen any of his films?” So I looked him up on the internet. I was fascinated by his life story. I also fell in love with his films. It’s a shame that Max and his wonderful films have largely been forgotten. I decided to write a screenplay about him as a way to introduce him to a new audience/generation.
Why do you think he's important?
Linder was a pioneer of early cinema, one of the first and one of the best — unique, multi-talented and influential. A biopic would showcase his talents, why he and his clever, charming films were once so popular. Linder’s personal life is fascinating to me, particularly his relationship with his wife and their tragic deaths. I suppose my script is a character study: how manic depression drove this talented, charismatic man (and his wife) to suicide. There is an episode of the Dick Cavett Show where Cavett interviews Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock talks about the fine line between comedy and tragedy. He says, “How often have you seen the old fashioned scene of the man walking toward the open manhole cover. Of course he has to wear a top hat, cause that’s dignity, you see…You watch him and he walks, he’s reading a paper, and he suddenly disappears down the hole. And everybody roars with laughter. But suppose you took a second look and looked down the hole. His head is cut, he’s bleeding. They send for an ambulance…Think how ashamed that audience is that they laughed in the first place.” Hitchcock’s statement describes how I think of Max. To the world, Max was a clown – the guy we laugh at when he falls through the open manhole – but in his private life, Max was tortured and depressed – the guy we would see if we looked in the manhole. Max was a comedic genius, but a troubled man. That’s what most interests me about him and what I hope to show in this biopic.
How do you bring to life artistic genius? I ask this because a lot of biopics emphasize the lurid — usually drug abuse — but don't necessarily provide insight into artistic genius — not that that's an easy thing to do!
Honestly, I’m not sure. That’s something I’ve been working on; one of the focuses of my rewrites is to capture more of Max’s artistic genius. I want to show his lighter, creative side as much as I show his darker, manic-depressive side.
Can you tell us a little bit about your screenplay?
My script focuses on Max’s life/career from 1912 to his death in 1925. The story follows him from the height of his fame, through his war years and his time in America to the last few years of his life with Helene and his descent into manic depression. I’ve taken some artistic liberties, but I’ve tried to make my script as factual/accurate as possible. Most of the events in the script are based on real events that I learned from Maud Linder’s book and from other research on Max’s life. I’ve also included reenactments of Max’s films so an audience can see examples of Max’s talent – which will hopefully inspire them to watch more of Max’s films. I’m currently looking for representation that can help me get my script into the right hands!
Well, with or without Johnny D., we wish Samantha luck! Any big-time agents or film producers out there? You can contact Samantha at: firstname.lastname@example.org