Boston’s depth of history will once again be brought to the big screen in a project being headlined by Val Kilmer on the life and times of New England authors, Mark Twain and Mary Baker Eddy. The movie was formally announced in November for a 2013 release. In addition to starring in the film as Mark Twain, Kilmer will also be directing the piece, currently titled Mark Twain and Mary Baker Eddy.
Twain, the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, spent much of his adult life in Connecticut. The great American writer fell into a contentious relationship with fellow writer and founder of the Church of Christ, Mary Baker Eddy, whom Twain referred to as the “queen of frauds and hypocrites.” A resident of Boston, Eddy wrote numerous pieces in her lifetime on her religious beliefs. Twain, in response to much of Eddy’s teachings, penned a book entitled Christian Science, which was rejected by Harper’s publishing in 1903. The rejection was interpreted by Twain as suppression as a direct result of pressure from the Christian Science sect. He later wrote, “The situation is not barren of humour. I had been doing my best to show in print that the Xn Scientist cult has become a power in the land – well, here is the proof: it has scared the biggest publisher in the Union.”
“We have been supporting his research here, as we do with any sort of project regarding Eddy,” said Mary Baker Eddy Library President Lesley Pitts. The library, which is based here in Boston, has its top researchers working with Kilmer to aid with information that will be used in the film. Kilmer made an appearance at the library in October, where he participated in a discussion as he portrayed Twain himself.
When seeking information from the library, there are two ways it can be done, no matter who is asking for it, be it a for a movie, or if its an academic scholar. One way is that the staff does research in response to questions, or they assist academic scholars who come on site to to do their research, sometimes people request copies of documents, a lot of our questions come in though various ways, then we do research and supply them with the response.
“I helped Val with the historical research, we all had something to do with it, but I probably helped with most of the research,” said Mike Davis, a researcher who has worked at the Mary Baker Eddy library for 25 years. “He would sometimes come in to the research room in person and more often he would put questions to me and I would send him the answers or supply him with the information he was looking for.” Kilmer has been working on his screenplay since 2005.