Neil Burger On ‘The Upside’, Finding Common Ground Amidst Divided America – Toronto Studio

Chris Chapman

Released in 2011, Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledo’s The Intouchables quickly became one of French cinema’s biggest-ever hits. Telling the true story of a quadriplegic businessman who hires a black ex-con to be his live-in caregiver, the buddy movie was nominated for eight Césars—the French Oscars—in its homeland, winning one for Omar Sy, who played François Cluzet’s helper, while not receiving quite the same rapturous reception in the outside world. Now, the film has been remade as a New York story, with Bryan Cranston as the disabled man, playing opposite actor and stand-up comedian Kevin Hart.

Director Neil Burger came to the Deadline studio to explain what, on paper, looked like a surprise choice for the Divergent helmer. “I thought, What’s the point of making that?” he said candidly. “It’s already been done.” The script, adapted by Jon Hartmere, however, soon changed Burger’s mind. “What I liked about the draft…is that it really spoke to the divisions in the country now, and at the time that I was reading it,” he said. “Divisions of race and wealth and all the rest of it, and it spoke to it by addressing it, actually—the movie is about two people connecting across the divides of race, ability and wealth.” Hoping to duplicate the film’s Gallic success, The Weinstein Company will be giving the film an Oscar-qualifying release later this year before a full US release next spring.

Neil Burger reveals more in the video above.

Deadline Studio at TIFF 2017 is presented by Calii LoveWatford GroupPhilosophy Canada, and Equinox. Special thanks to Dan Gunam at Calii Love for location and production assistance; and Ontario Camera for equipment assistance. Video producer: Meaghan Gable; lighting and camera: Neil Hansen; design: Dialla Kawar; sound recording: Ida Jokinen.

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