"Men Who Stare at Goats" weathers far-flung shoot

Sun Nov 8, 2009 9:21pm EST
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By Martin A. Grove

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Getting his project cast and financed was not the hard part for Grant Heslov.

His feature directing debut, "The Men Who Stare at Goats," starring George Clooney, opened Friday via Overture Films and earned a respectable $13.3 million during its first three days.

Heslov, who produced "Goats" with Clooney, his partner in Smokehouse Pictures, and Paul Lister, read a ton of scripts. He knew he'd found the right one in "Goats," a dark comedy inspired by Jon Ronson's nonfiction bestseller about the government using paranormal abilities to fight enemies.

"I'd been looking for something and it was my sensibility -- you know, when you read something and it gets under your skin," he said.

And he loved the unusual title. "To me it was the kind of title that once you say it you remember it. It does what a title should do, which is give you insight into the piece."

Putting "Goats" together went smoothly. Heslov knows his way around the track after producing and co-writing the best picture Oscar nominee "Good Night, and Good Luck," which Clooney directed. Heslov, who started out as an actor ("The Birdcage," "True Lies"), also co-produced "Intolerable Cruelty" and "Leatherheads."

Everything fell into place after Clooney said two years ago that he'd play a role. The film also stars Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor and Kevin Spacey. They were shooting this time last year.

"We went to a couple of financiers and went with the best offer," Heslov noted. That came from Winchester Capital Management, "a company we had dealt with before and they were great. It's usually pretty tricky, but for some reason it all fell into place pretty easily."   Continued...

<p>Cast members Kevin Spacey (L) and George Clooney (R) stand with director Grant Heslov as they arrive to speak about their new film "The Men Who Stare At Goats" in London, October 15, 2009. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth</p>