Tony Kaye is back to make another film, and that might surprise a lot of people in Hollywood. Why? Because Kaye, despite having directed music videos for Johnny Cash and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and directing American History X, has infamously been a incendiary character.
He famously clashed with New Line Cinema over the final cut of American History X, disowning the final cut of the film and unsuccessfully attempting to have his name removed from the credits. The battle escalated to include many lawsuits and has since become Hollywood folklore. But the incident all but destroyed Kaye’s career.
He has made films since, like the abortion documentary Lake Of Fire and teaching drama Detachment, but none have been distributed particularly widely.
Which is why it’s surprising to hear that Kaye is back to make another racially-charged drama, this one titled Civil. The film is set in 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, a monumental time and place for the American civil rights movement. It will follow two men with opposing points of view learning more about themselves and equality, while tragedies rage around them.
Kaye will direct from a screenplay penned by Austin Wright and Adam Knox, and the plan is to begin shooting next year. At least that’s the plan, you never really know with Kaye.
This is the same man who, after finishing shooting American History X, said he’d discovered a new vision for the film and needed a year to remake it, flying to the Caribbean to have the script rewritten by the Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott.
It certainly would be nice to see Kaye welcomed back into Hollywood and see what he’s got left in the tank. It sounds like Civil will be less antagonistic than American History X and a more delicate exploration of the civil rights movement, although who knows.
We’ll wait and see what actors Kaye is able to get for the project; that might signal how far he’s been welcomed back into Hollywood, if at all.