stars Tom Adams, Jodi Russell and Margot Kidder; Greg Green directs.
Casting is everything, says Three of a Kind writer/director Greg Green. So when he got Margot Kidder to play Claire, a supporting but crucial role, he knew the cornerstone to his movie was in place.
Three of a Kind, a Remi Award Winner at the 45th WorldFest Houston Independent International Film Festival which runs through April 22, isn't always an easy film to watch. The psychological thriller stars Tom Adams as Victor and Jodi Russell as his much abused wife Anna. What started off as a whirlwind romance for the pair ("I'm the man of your dreams," Victor tells Anna when they meet at a party), quickly becomes a trap for Anna as Victor is increasingly violent toward her.
A heroin dealer, Victor uses his casino as a cover for his drug business. He comes into contact with lots of shady characters in his line of work, including gun-for-hire Christina (Jessica Manuel) and reluctant lackey Michael (Jared Zirilli). Victor makes frequent trips to Buenos Aires and orders Michael to watch Anna while he's gone. When Michael sees how sadistic Victor is towards Anna, he sets out to rescue her. All the while, ruthless Christina is watching them.
Kidder plays Victor's wheelchair-bound sister Claire. And it's through his relationship with Claire that the audience comes to understand Victor. He's an abusive asshole, to be sure, but he didn't start off that way.
"The executive producer, [Juliana Hagen], and I worked long and hard to make sure that the violence in the film was not gratuitous," says Green. "Or the sex for that matter. We wanted to have something that everyone could relate to on some level. We wanted to create characters that were shades of gray, not just black or white."
Claire, and Kidder's performance in the role, adds a background of gray to Victor. Without it he becomes a one-note monster. With it, he's still monstrous, but not inhuman.
Snagging Kidder was an unexpected coup for Green. While working on casting, someone said, "You know who would be great for this role is Margot Kidder." Green said, "Yeah, but how the heck are we going to get her?" As it happened a co-producer had worked with Kidder on some previous projects and was able to get the script to her.
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Green has nothing but praise for her work on the film. "She is a sweetheart and just sharp as a tack. She's a delight." But he admits she had some troubles on set. "She was in chronic pain during the filming. Both her knees were giving her trouble, she had a few extra pounds on her. She just wasn't in great shape physically. In spite of all that, she was able to turn in a great performance," he says, adding, "I just saw her two months ago and she's slim and trim, and had two knee replacements."
So did Kidder's name open any doors for Green and Three of a Kind? He says it wasn't her name, but her performance, along with that of the rest of the cast, that got the film get into WorldFest.
Being selected, as well as winning an award, is a big boost to the film. "The competition is insane for films. Thousands of indie films are produced every year," says Green. "So to have WorldFest recongnize it the way it has, is incredibly exciting and incredibly validating."
Three of a Kind screens at 9 p.m. on Tuesday at AMC Theaters - Studio 30 at 2949 Dunvale. For information, visit www.worldfest.org or call 713-965-9955. $12.50.