It’s appropriate that a film about two of Scotland’s finest golfing sons should be getting made by the only child of one of the country’s most famous big screen stars.
Jason Connery, son of Sir Sean, has signed on to direct Tommy’s Honor, a movie about the lives of Old and Young Tom Morris. The film will explore the lives of the two pioneering Scots, with production expected to get underway later this year right here in Scotland.
For 51-year-old Jason, above, taking the director’s reins on the $10m production is a great opportunity to make a film in his James Bond star dad’s home country – not to mention a rare opportunity to make something that his old man will actually like!
“He’s very supportive of the project and it’s been lovely talking to him about it,” says Jason in an exclusive chat with bunkered. “On other projects of mine in the past, he might not have had as much of an affinity for them but he has been excited to talk about this one, and he’ been very helpful, too. He comes at feature films this like from a character and story-telling standpoint first and foremost, so he has had some fantastic ideas, which have been really helpful.”
Connery, a keen golfer himself, admits some of his fondest childhood memories are of going to Gleneagles to watch his dad compete in pro-celebrity challenge matches. “I’m not sure if it’s just my memory over-romanticising it but I can only ever remember it being sunny up there, which is a nice way to remember it,” he reminisces. “But, for sure, golf has been an enormous part of my life.”
Jason was hired for the director’s seat by American producer Jim Kreutzer. As so often happens in the world of cinema, the idea for the movie landed in Jim’s lap purely by chance.
“It was around four years ago,” recalls Kreutzer. “A friend of mine was very ill and so I decided to take him on a trip of a lifetime to Scotland. When we were there, I bought him a book about the Morris family, as he was particularly interested in golf history.”
That book was Tommy’s Honor by Kevin Cook and, after reading it himself, Kreutzer quickly snapped up the film rights for it.
“I’m stunned this story hasn’t already been turned into a film,” adds Kreutzer, who also revealed that the finished movie will be distributed globally by Picturehouse Entertainment, the same company behind The Passion of the Christ, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and the Oscar-winning Monster. “When I first read the book, I told my friends, ‘If I don’t get going with this, somebody else will beat me to it’.”
Like Jason, Jim has enjoyed being able to bend the ear of Sir Sean, pictured above, on the project. “He has been very helpful with the script in particular,” he notes. “There’s no question that Jason being from the family that he is and having such an iconic name is very beneficial. It does help to raise the profile of the film.
“All of us involved in the movie are cognizant about our obligation to make an entertaining film but also one that is, first and foremost, a story of a father and son.”
“We’re under pressure to be as consistent and as true as possible to the story because it’s right there written in history" - Jason Connery
Jason and Jim are also making sure to leave no stone unturned in making sure the movie is a hit, and have invested a lot of time, money and effort in researching their subjects.
Jim says: “When I first bought the rights to the book, I spent weeks and months in Scotland researching trying to get a clear vision of what I want this film to be and look like but, I have to admit, I was a little bit sheepish about it at first. I was acutely aware that here I was, this American guy trying to take on and do justice to an iconic Scottish story. Fortunately, though, everyone I met was exceptionally encouraging. They were like, ‘We expect you Yanks to do this stuff.’ So, that was great and it really built my confidence for doing the project.”
“We understand that what we ultimately do isn’t going to appease everyone,” adds Jason. “We’re certainly under pressure to be as consistent and as true as possible to the story because it’s right there written in history.
“By the same token, though, no-one knows what happens in the privacy of somebody’s home. Nobody knows for sure the conversations Old Tom and Young Tom had, how they did this or that, so we will have to exercise some creative license there. But, broadly speaking, we will try to create as faithful an account of the key events in their lives as possible.”
Before filming can begin, Jason and Jim still have a lot of pieces to fit together – not least the casting of the roles of Old Tom, above, and Young Tom.
“We haven’t started casting yet but it’s fair to say we have a list of people in mind to play the key roles,” says Jason. “I expect Old Tom will be the first role we cast because the story will be told through his voice. Personally, I’d like the roles of Old Tom and Young Tom to be played by Scots.
“But we’ve spoken to the R&A, the First Minister, and Creative Scotland about the project and we’ve done some location scouting, too.”
Those locations are also TBC but are expected to include Prestwick, North Berwick, Musselburgh, and, of course, St Andrews.
“It’s important we cast the right people and apply the correct attention to detail" - Jim Kreutzer
Jim adds: “Our plan is to start shooting in the fall of this year but we are flexible on that as, wherever we shoot, there is going to be a certain amount of upheaval for those locations, with trucks moving in, as well as a big production crew and so on. The start time might also be affected by the availability of the actors we cast. If we particularly want somebody but they’re not available right away, we’re prepared to wait a little bit for them.
“It’s important we cast the right people and apply the correct attention to detail. For example, there is a scene which has to take place in a blizzard but it’s fine. We can create our own blizzard if we have to. What we can’t do is be nonchalant about any aspect of this film. This is a story that is held in such reverence and there will be so many people looking at it that there is only one option – making the very best movie that we can.
“I’m aware that golf movies don’t have the best reputation for being sensitive or thought-provoking but we’re confident Tommy’s Honor will buck that trend.”
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