Immediately following the disastrous failure of my horror film, The Revenant, I sat down in front of the keyboard and set my focus on building a strong character based story. In early 1999ish I wrote a screenplay called The Billboard Girl. The Billboard Girl was loosely based on the George Cukor film called “It Should Happen to You,” Starring Jack Lemmon.
Jack Lemmon had been a fascination of mine for a while. His work in The Apartment was inspiring and I had been a longtime fan of the Wilder/Lemmon work. Focusing on that inspiration, I set out to do just what Wilder always did. There was romance. There was drama. There was comedy. There was sex.
Two Days with Juliet is nothing more than my tribute to Billy Wilder and I designed it with my own Jack Lemmon, Harold Robl in mind. During the filming of The Revenant, Harold was the breakout star. I cast him simply because he was a friend and I had known him since the day he was born. We had spent our childhood making imaginary movies and this was time for the real thing. Everything was cast and Harold and I caught up together again. He knocked his bit part in The Revenant out of the park and pulled no punches. That got my mind moving.
Harold’s character, Pete Sheppard is a direct tribute to the Lemmon character in It Should Happen to You.
After The Revenant, I dug through my archives and tried to find something I could shoot on no budget. The Billboard Girl was not that script. But I did like some of the ideas.
It was also around that time that I had been thinking about doing a film on self-mutilation. I had a few friends who had been a victim of this self-affliction. It was close to home and I wanted to address it in my own way.
I started fresh with a brand new blank slate and began to write the 110 pages that would become Two Days with Juliet.
We cast and shot the film in 2003. I held an open audition and had approximately sixty people show up. I had found my Juliet. And then I found her again. Laura was my first choice, but Alisha Reed, a 16 year old drama student came in and blew us away. Tim, Henri and I discussed our dilemma and we left the auditions not exactly knowing what to do. Alisha was young and we thought that could be an issue considering the age difference between her and Harold, as well as the context of the film.
I didn’t want to lose her and thought about my problem for an entire 7 hour drive from Northern New York to Connecticut. Alisha posed a wonderful problem. Great actors and not enough parts. So, I wrote one for her.
Two days later, I had created an entire new draft of the script and added in an entire new storyline with Juliet’s younger sister. It was from the heavens. It added another entire level of depth and character arc and strength to Juliet that I didn’t even realize was missing from the story and character.
Shooting, as we always do it was fast and furious. We struggled and bled together throughout the entire process. We laughed. We cried. We screwed around, A LOT. But ultimately, it worked out for the best. This was my most adult feature to date and in my eyes, my first true film.
It also paid off. It got plenty of festival play and the lead actress Laura Yuhasz won a Best Actress award from the Philadelphia Documentary and Fiction Festival.
It can be watched in it’s entirety here: