But Thornton is a fan. “Some people can’t stand them. Because they’re dealing with them,” he said. “When you deal with a studio, there are so many people between you and them. But if you make a movie with Bob, he’s the guy you talk to every day and he’s the guy who pisses on your grave and he’s the guy who saves your ass.”
Bob didn’t crap out on Billy Bob’s movie Bad Santa, either. “We were all saying either this is going to be one of the greatest comedies you’ve ever seen, or we’re all going to be out there looking for fucking food somewhere,” he continued. Bob smartly positioned it as “the nastiest fucking Christmas movie you’ve ever seen in your life. And it was the biggest comedy of the year.”
On the other hand, just thinking about Harvey made Billy Bob reach for a packet of Emergen-C, which he now proceeded to empty into a glass of water. “I gotta say, I’ve never been berated by Bob. But Harvey and I have called each other every kind of sonuvabitch you can call somebody.” When Harvey was after Billy Bob to cut All the Pretty Horses, they threatened to kill each other. “It was like GoodFellas. But we’ve laughed about it since,” said Thornton.
Bob climbed into the trailer and bent one leg underneath him like a teenager as he grabbed a seat beside Thornton’s tropical papaya pills.
“We were at some sort of cocktail extravaganza in L.A.,” Billy Bob continued. “I made the mistake of saying to Bob, ‘Yeah, I think it’s really cool the way you guys work together. Harvey’s the guy out there making the movies, and you’re right behind the scenes handling the business.’
“Bob goes, ‘Let me tell you something! Let me tell you something, you little prick!’ ”
Bob [annoyed]: “I didn’t say ‘you little prick—’ ”
Billy Bob: “He didn’t say ‘you little prick,’ but he got so pissed off at me. I realized, okay, I like this guy, because he was basically offended that I insinuated he was a business guy—”
“I’m selling art,” said Bob without sounding all pompous about it. Bob has been itching to move away from the P&L statements for years. Dimension gave him “a chance to go out and see honestly, wow, I was missing a piece of myself,” he said.
Billy Bob finished the thought. “When Dimension came along, also, you knew there were going to be a couple of movies a year at least that made money just in case one of those with all those fuckin’ English people didn’t work out! Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.”
Bob chuckled, too, doing nothing to correct the impression. Miramax employees sensed the brothers blamed each other for the Disney endgame. But that was in the past. Bob compared working with Harvey to “checking in with the wife,” before heading into town in his own black Mercedes.
Paranoia is the salt on their popcorn, and Harvey and Bob have many enemies, real and imagined. Harvey wonders why his peers have been such playa-haters. Perhaps it’s because he’s so visible, tinkering with Marty Scorsese’s masterpieces, pressuring exhibitors who didn’t want Hoodwinked in their theaters for Christmas.
“In the new life, we play much more fair than we used to. We’re trying to clean up Dodge City now. We drink milk.”
A little more than a year ago, Harvey went public with his adult-onset diabetes, blaming some of his scarier outbursts on eating too many M&M’s. The M&M’s is like the Nuremburg defense, say ex-employees. Harvey continues to rage (and some say Bob has been worse, hurling profanity and personal insults). As the Disney turnover approached, the atmosphere turned Nixonian as the brothers’ top lieutenants headed for the exits; one pod of employees tried to form a production company called Freedom.
“Having kids has made me much more mature,” says Harvey. “The anger is gone. There’s a sweetness there.”
“Harvey’s evolving,” says his former co-head of production Meryl Poster.
Harvey was looking forward to working with Disney again in some capacity, now that Eisner had been run out of town. Disney’s new CEO, Bob Iger, “disagreed with the bad decision to take the Miramax name away, and he called us after the board meeting to say so,” says Harvey. “He’s a class act.”
“I think Harvey sees the importance of getting along,” says Jim Dolan.
Harvey’s divorce from his wife of seventeen years came through in December 2004, and he has relocated to a $7 million Soho loft. As of August, he has been living here with the 29-year-old daughter of a British coffee magnate, Georgina Chapman, an old-style mogul-starlet romance, as the former dandruff-shampoo model may be seen in bit parts in Bride & Prejudice and Derailed and in the BBC’s Sons & Lovers, as well as accompanying Harvey variously at Mr. Chow’s and Elaine’s, and in the front row at Paris fashion shows, which makes sense because she’s also an aspiring designer; her Marchesa label is partly backed by Giuseppe Cipriani and named for the Marchesa Luisa Casati, a socialite of the twenties with a rage for fame who wore live snakes as jewelry and was photographed by Man Ray.