“The Odd Life of Timothy Green” is certainly odd for a Disney film.
Based on a story by Ahmet Zappa, it’s about loving married couple — played by Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Garner — who can’t have children, but “invent” one. They write attributes on pieces of paper, place them in a box and bury it in the garden; the next morning, a young boy, covered in dirt and leaves, appears.
Writer-director Peter Hedges, who received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for “About a Boy” and directed “Pieces of April” and “Dan in Real Life,” recently visited The City with Edgerton to promote the film, which opens today.
The seemingly odd pair clearly have affection for each other.
The open-hearted Hedges says of Edgerton: He “let me know that I don’t need to be defensive of the film I’ve made. He has made me feel confident.”
Hedges, who often tells stories about families, wanted to make a movie about parenting, and found the perfect opportunity with “Timothy Green,” beginning by building his own “family” for the shoot.
His brainstorm was to cast a strong actor like Edgerton — an Australian who played Uncle Owen in the last two “Star Wars” films and was memorable in “Animal Kingdom” and “Warrior” — in a role filled with helplessness. Hedges says, “How powerful that would be if you could feel from the beginning that this character has heroism in him, but it’s been suppressed.”
Edgerton, in turn, found a unique and realistic chemistry with co-star Garner. “We just clicked. I’ve been lucky like that,” he says. “I’m a big believer that those real-life relationships seep into the movie.”
Citing his love of actors, Hedges first began writing for actors he knew, but now writes for those he wants to know.
“Timothy Green” features some of the greatest veteran character actors alive: David Morse, Lois Smith, Dianne Wiest, Shohreh Aghdashloo and M. Emmet Walsh — about whom Edgerton says, “Certain actors are almost better advertising for a movie than a poster.
Though Hedges credits many collaborators for helping this movie get made, he calls it his most personal film, alongside “Pieces of April.” Both involved, Hedges says, a big group of people he’d “love to work with again.”
IF YOU GO
Starring Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, CJ Adams
Written and directed by Peter Hedges
Running time 2 hours 5 minutes