Edward R. Pressman: Producer of Malick, Ferrara, Stone and more
Pressman has embraced several genres, from commercial studios to mystery art films. He was interested in movies, not money.
Ed Pressman was cool. And he had taste. He didn’t care what other people thought about a particular project. If he thought it was cool, that was enough. He kept his own counsel; it was quiet. But if he wanted something, he said it. There was no one who took no for an answer.
This helps explain how he ended up making some 80 films over the decades. And it hasn’t slowed down in recent years. When Ed and his son Sam came to the IndieWire party in Cannes two years ago, Ed found a quiet corner and put his phone to work. Pressman died on January 17 of respiratory failure at the age of 79.
Check out the friends who came out last Thursday to speak at his memorial at the Paris Theater in New York: Mary Harron, David Byrne and Eric Bogosian, among others, and video tributes from David Hare, David Gordon Green, Bill Kramer, Ben. Kingsley, Jason Blum and others (see below).
“He was soft-spoken, thoughtful, modest and a gentleman,” said ex-CAA boss Rick Nicita, who first met Pressman in 1973 on Terrence Malick’s “Badlands,” in a video tribute. Pressman also supported an early film by the then-unknown Brian DePalma. the thriller “Sisters” (1972) and two years later “Phantom of Paradise”.
Pressman was expected to join the family business at the Pressman Toy Corporation, but instead he took his own course, studying philosophy at Stanford.
“He loved the special individual films,” said Irons, who won an Academy Award for Barbet Schroeder’s critically acclaimed “Reversal of Fortune” (1990). “He was an honest person you could trust, a rare person in our profession.”
When Abel Ferrara was ready to back down and give up when “Bad Lieutenant” (1992) ran into rough waters, “Ed never backed down,” he said. Ferrara is writing a book that definitely features Pressman, he added.
Who else but Pressman would cast musician David Byrne as the lead in True Stories (1986), written by Stephen Tobolowsky and Beth Henley and set in a small Texas town with John Goodman?
In the 1980s, Ed and his wife Annie held gatherings at their Hollywood Hills home, which boasted amazing views and incredible art on the walls. They later moved to New York. I mostly hung out with him in Cannes, where he hosted a lunch at the Eden Roc at the Hotel du Cap for the Taviani brothers (“Night of the Shooting Stars”), threw a party at a friend’s ancient family villa, and turned around. each year it either releases a movie (“Bad Lieutenant,” “The King,” “Thanks for Smoking,” “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”) or raises funding for countless others (“The Crow”).
Pressman and Oliver Stone worked together on a number of films, including his second feature, “The Hand,” and “Wall Street,” which scored at the box office and won Michael Douglas an Academy Award. Stone and Pressman produced Arnold Schwarzenegger’s action epic “Conan” and the much smaller but prophetic “Talk Radio,” as well as Kathryn Bigelow’s third feature, “Blue Steel,” starring Jamie Lee Curtis.
Christian Bale worked with Pressman on Harron’s “American Psycho” and has remained in touch with the producer over the years. “He was an original and he was looking for other originals,” he said. “He liked to vouch for people who weren’t tested. Thanks for the stories.”
In lieu of flowers, the Pressman family accepts donations to The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, “In Memory of Edward R. Pressman” here.
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