Behind the Scenes of Ron Maxwell’s New Civil War Movie, COPPERHEAD
By Evy Baehr, Managing Editor
Movieguide® had the opportunity to speak with Ron Maxwell, the director of Gettysburg, Gods and Generals, and now Copperhead.
COPPERHEAD is a civil war drama that begs the question of whether the North should go to war against the South. This was a very controversial decision during this time period because it involved families against each other, brothers and fathers fighting for different sides.
Question: How do you get passionate about the stories that motivate you to produce?
Maxwell: I have to have a visceral connection with the story, and I have to feel like I want to tell it and that I’m the one to tell it. I have to believe it. The emotional intellectual connection with the material.
Question: You tend towards historical pieces. Was that your intention when going into the entertainment industry?
Maxwell: Maybe in a subconscious way because I’ve been interested in history my whole life, since my boyhood. It’s been a great, great abiding interest with me. It’s always been an interest of mine to go to another place, another time and recreate it.
Question: What kind of research did you do for this movie?
Maxwell: …I love doing research. Some people find it as a chore. If I didn’t tell myself ‘Ron you have to make the movie,’ I would just research for life. I would just go to the library, and in my case I’ve a library in my own home, so I don’t even have to go the library any more. It’s my idea of paradise. I absorb it. I get to the point where it’s like I know the material. Then, I start the script. Then, I have all my research around me so I can go back and check the date and the place and details. I don’t start writing the script until I feel like I really know the material.
Question: COPPERHEAD is based on a book by Harold Frederic. What inspired you about that book?
Maxwell: He was an eyewitness. He was a boy during the civil war so he lived through the events as they unfolded [on] what we call the ‘home front.’ So his voice is authentic. When I came across his novel, I was impressed with the characters and the ideas and the dialog, and I thought it would make a terrific film. It shows a side of American society during the civil war that quite frankly we’ve never seen in the popular culture. So it was new for me, and I know it’s going to be new and intriguing for an audience.
Question: What about the movie’s faith elements?
Maxwell: It’s clear that this particular community in 1860s is a 100% Christian believing community. They even belong to the same congregation. The movie poses a question to Christian audiences of how do you live it, this Christian life, when it’s not always so obvious.
Editor’s Note: You can take a look at our full review of Ron Maxwell’s movie COPPERHEAD at the following link – http://www.movieguide.org/reviews/copperhead.html.