Spy: The Kiwi director who’s suddenly hot property in Hollywood

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Writer and director Scott Walker has found himself Hollywood hot property – thanks to Nicolas Cage and a seven-year-old movie.

Walker’s first feature film, The Frozen Ground, was due for a massive global theatre release in 2013.

After a mammoth press build-up and red carpet events in Los Angeles and London, the movie received a Golden Reel Award nomination and was selected to premiere in top international film festivals.

However, Walker says a merger between movie studios Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment scuppered the plans and the rollout was dramatically scaled back.

But this week the movie found its way to Netflix in the US and rocketed to the top.

Since then Hollywood scripts and inquiries from US, UK and Australian agents have been flying into Walker’s inbox. Two scripts, he tells Spy, have sparked his interest and one project has a huge Hollywood star connected to it.

Writer and director Scott Walker with actor Nicolas Cage on set. Photo / Supplied
Writer and director Scott Walker with actor Nicolas Cage on set. Photo / Supplied

“We all knew the film tested incredibly strongly with audiences from the beginning,” Walker said. “But after the stop-start initial launch due to events outside anyone’s control, it’s so amazing to now see everyone’s hard work rewarded and validated, and for such an enormous audience to finally be finding and enjoying the film.”

The crime thriller stars Cage, John Cusack and Vanessa Hudgens. Walker wrote the movie based on the true events of the 1980s when a manhunt was underway in Alaska for serial killer Robert Hansen (played by Cusack), who stalked, kidnapped and murdered between 17 and 21 young women, burying them in the Alaskan wilderness. Real-life Alaskan detective Glenn Flothe undertook a personal crusade to bring the killer to justice with the help of young survivor, Cindy Paulson (Hudgens); in the film Flothe is portrayed by Cage.

Three days after appearing on Netflix in the US, it’s been watched by an estimated 100 million people.

Writer and director Scott Walker. Photo / Supplied
Writer and director Scott Walker. Photo / Supplied

Walker came back to NZ from Hollywood pre-lockdown in March. Based near Matakana, he is writing the screenplay for New Zealand author James T. Guthrie’s award-winning book, Bullseye Bella. Walker has not cast it yet but has said Russell Crowe, Cage, Karl Urban and Sam Neill are on his wish list.

“Unfortunately, Covid knocked a lot of projects and timings back, so Bullseye Bella has a bit more work to go before casting and, at the same time, I’m also casting another film with producers in LA that we are due to shoot in October,” says Walker.

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