Mark Ruffalo Movie ‘Spotlight’ Almost Didn’t Get Made — Now It’s An Oscar Contender

When Spotlight won Outstanding Performance By a Cast in a Motion Picture at the Screen Actors Guild awards Saturday night, Mark Ruffalo said the honor was unexpected — and, as People reported, took a moment to acknowledge those who lived through the events central to the film’s story. Spotlight is about the Boston Globe reporting team that uncovered decades of sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church and the Church’s attempts to keep the information hidden.

“These victims who are dead, and the survivors who are still alive, of one of the most horrific things that our culture has allowed to happen.

“This movie allows them to be seen in a world that has been blind to them. And so it is such an honor to be standing in front of you on behalf of them. And this amazing cast.”

Michael Keaton, who stars alongside Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci and Billy Crudup, spoke about those who are “disenfranchised,” and noted the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

'Spotlight' SAG awards
Michael Keaton speaks onstage at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 30, 2016. The film ‘Spotlight’ won best cast performance and is up for a Best Picture Oscar. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images Entertainment)

The film is one of the eight nominees for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards. But for fans of a film that has achieved such widespread critical acclaim, it may be a surprise to learn that it was not easy to get the film made. Despite its compelling true story, a highly regarded script, and big name actors signed on, a major production house pulled out as the movie was coming together.

Michael Keaton of 'Spotlight'
Michael Keaton starred in ‘Spotlight’ and last year’s Oscar for Best Picture winner, ‘Birdman.’ (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images Entertainment)

The Hollywood Reporter revealed last November that DreamWorks had originally signed on to contribute half of Spotlight‘s modest $15 million budget. But the company abandoned the project while it was in development. Producer Nicole Rocklin said no explanation was given, but she was willing to hazard a guess.

“They never told us. But I can speculate. It’s a movie about pedophilia in the Catholic Church.”

Rocklin and her producing partner had secured the life rights to the Globe reporters back in 2008, but every stage of production proved to be a challenge due to the uncomfortable subject matter. The problems went back to their initial search for a screenwriter to put together a script — a script that would eventually go through a dozen drafts.

“Let’s put it this way. We got a lot of nos. We have really good relationships, but we got a lot of nos.”

Ruffalo is also quoted by The Hollywood Reporter as defining why Spotlight took a great deal of time to get made, making reference to a scene the film doesn’t actually contain.

“[N]o one wants to watch a priest molesting a kid. That’s very hard for an audience to watch.”

A new review of the film by The Guardian calls Spotlight “authentic” in its portrayals, although some of the real-life individuals have taken issue with how they are shown on-screen. It identified Ruffalo as one of the few actors who has an emotional scene in the movie that focuses almost entirely on the nitty-gritty details of investigative reporting. The movie does not exclusively fault the institution for its cover up, showing how the entire community was silent about the issues.

In addition to Spotlight‘s Best Picture nod, McAdams and Ruffalo were nominated for acting Oscars. The film is also up for Best Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Director. The Academy Awards will be broadcast on February 28, 2016.

[Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images Entertainment]

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