About The Production
A few years ago, writer, producer and director Dan Fogelman heard an
story that captured his attention and just wouldn'
t let go. In 1971, he learned,
musician and songwriter Steve Tilston had just released his successful first
During an interview with a small music publication called
Zig Zag, a
reporter ventured the opinion that Tilston could be the next big thing on the
I was asked, if I received wealth and fame beyond the dreams of avarice,
affect my songwriting?"
remembers Tilston. "
And being a kind of pretentious,
young songwriter, I said, well, yes it would. It would have a very detrimental
article ran and I thought no more about it."
In the ensuing four decades, Tilston went on to become a celebrated
musician, and a fixture on the contemporary folk-
music scene. "
his music for more than four decades,"
says Fogelman. "
He never '
Then in 2005 Tilston received an astonishing communication from a memorabilia
collector in America who had purchased a letter addressed to Steve Tilston and
authenticate it. The letter was from one of Tilston'
s personal heroes: ex-
Lennon, it seems, had read the article in Zig Zag and wanted to assure Tilston
one could be rich and famous and still be true to oneself, saying, "
your experiences in the way you think."
s quite a friendly letter,"
says Tilston. "
s not in any way
castigating me for
having these feelings. And then he asked me in the last sentence, '
think of that,'
and included his home phone number."
What, thought Fogelman, might have been different about Tilston'
s career and
he and Lennon had connected? He decided to track down Tilston and find out what
s perspective on that question was.
Who could say?"
Tilston says now. "
Life is full of '
It would have
fascinating to have met him. We might have hit it off. Or he might have taken an
dislike to me and shown me the door."
Even so, Fogelman'
s imagination kept him wondering what might have been. "
t stop thinking about what would have happened if things had gone a
he says. "
What if he became very famous and very wealthy and very unhappy? This
happens to Danny Collins, our protagonist, at the beginning of this film."
Fogelman set to work on a script loosely inspired by Tilston'
which Danny Collins, who became a musical superstar with an early and beloved
receives the letter on his birthday and begins to reexamine his life.
A hugely popular performer with a faithful following, Danny'
s anthem is a
Hey Baby Doll"
that he has been forced to sing at every show for 40
s the kind of song that gets in your head and you can'
t stop humming it,"
Think Neil Diamond'
When we meet him at the beginning of the
is singing that song. He'
s incredibly wealthy, incredibly famous and incredibly
is depressed by where his music has taken him. He feels uninspired. Then he gets
and he begins to change."
As he wrote, Fogelman had a very specific picture in his mind of who was
play the role of Danny. "
I always imagined Al Pacino,"
he says. "
It was unreal
to me that I
was able to send this script to him and that he read it. He was in '
Broadway and we went backstage to meet him. Suddenly I was hanging out with Al
asking him to trust me to direct even though I'
d never directed anything before.
I knew I
had to do right by him, which was very stressful."
Pacino was both delighted and taken aback by Fogelman'
s offer. "
I was the guy
wanted for this-
can you believe it?"
says Pacino. "
He could get a lot of people
to play this
role, but Dan wanted me and when a director really wants me to play an
unexpected part, I
have to say, okay already. I did that with The Godfather. Francis Ford Coppola
wanted me to
play Michael Corleone when nobody else saw me in the role-
even me. Here again,
something in me that would work in this part and I will be eternally grateful to
Pacino was familiar with Fogelman'
s screenwriting ability through scripts
Tangled, Crazy, Stupid, Love and Last Vegas. "
I knew he was a great writer,"
says the actor. "
learned he can direct, and I'
ve worked with great directors. I'
m always a little
first timers, because they'
re unproven, but there was so much confidence in him.
He just had
the belief in it right from the start, so I did too."
The script didn'
t disappoint him. "
It was written with such heart,"
s what I saw when I first read it. If you know Dan, you understand why
this script is
the way it is. The situation is funny and strange-
ve been there. I know
s like to
just get whacked and then lauded and then whacked again. You feel like you'
match and you'
re the ball."
With Pacino onboard to play Danny, Fogelman customized the role further. "
tailored this even more specifically for Al once he signed on,"
always need to be adjusted for great actors. You have this script that'
for a while and
s like getting a new car. You think, oh, I didn'
t realize this car could do
director says the most nerve-
wracking moment of his life was the
screened Danny Collins for Al Pacino. "
I made a promise to him and I did my best
it, but you never know what somebody'
s going to like. Al likes to watch a first
cut of a movie
by himself in a theater. Nobody was there but him. Waiting was agony and then I
beautiful email from him. He might have been bs-
ing me, but he said that the
final scene in
the movie is the first time he'
s ever cried watching one of his own films."
Fogelman says one of his goals for Danny Collins was to make the kind of
he himself enjoys watching. "
s a movie for adults that will make you laugh
make you cry a little bit,"
he says. "
Every scene, even the heaviest, has
moments of humor in
it. I like human stories that are about characters and dialogue and family. I
love to see people
who are getting a second chance. We'
re making fewer and fewer movies like that
I also hope that people see this in movie theaters,"
adds the director. "
wrote it for
a sophisticated adult audience that loves the movies I love, the kind that my
friends and I
t get made anymore. The biggest compliment somebody could pay me
be to simply say, I loved that movie. Nothing more. That they just really
enjoyed the two
hours they spent in that movie theater."
Next Production Note Section
Home | Theaters | Video | TV
Your Comments and Suggestions are Always Welcome.
© 2018 111®, All Rights Reserved.