That kind of movie-biz savvy is always at play. Bevan revels in the knowledge that Working Title’s relationship with Universal allowed them to turn Greengrass’s United 93 from a film that would have been seen by $10 million worth of people into one seen by $100 million worth. But the film’s success, Bevan says, was also a question of right time, right place: “We’d wanted to do a film about 9/11. Stacey Snider, who was running the studio at the time, was desperate for Paul to do the third Bourne—and we basically managed to leverage that into getting the film made. It’s our job to see where those opportunities are.”
Bevan and Fellner jointly decide on projects but look after separate films. (Fellner tends to the Coens, and Bevan to Greengrass; as for Curtis, the pair treat him, the director says, in a “Mormonic way: One does me first, the other does me next.”) Bevan is now working with Greengrass on Green Zone, a thriller set in postinvasion Iraq. Bevan notes that Working Title has never had “the big, big U.S. release.” Green Zone will, he hopes, be just that.
But the budget is up in the $85 million to $100 million range, which brings more scrutiny from the studio. And, says Bevan, “Paul Greengrass is a very difficult guy to work with because he likes to create chaos, and out of that he gets what he needs to get. Which is…fine. But it’s pretty wearing for the people around him.” For his part, Greengrass finds Fellner and Bevan “wholly admirable. They’re a huge force for creative good. Sure, there have been strains—film’s an emotional experience, so I’ll get riled up, and you need the producer to be supportive and calm. And Tim’s got a lot of calm.”
What has all that calm and canniness brought the Working Title bosses? Both have luxurious homes in London’s Notting Hill and in the country. (“Tennis courts, swimming pools, servants” is how one of Fellner’s friends describes his rustic pile. “Eric always makes his houses very enjoyable.”) Bevan drives a Bentley, Fellner a souped-up Mini Cooper—“though God knows what else he’s got,” Bevan says. Both have failed marriages behind them: Bevan’s first wife was actress Joely Richardson, with whom he has a daughter; he has two more children with second wife Amy Gadney. Fellner was married to actress and director Gaby Dellal, with whom he has three kids. He now lives with model Laura Bailey and their two children.
Each one’s longest-lasting partnership, then, is with the other. According to Morgan, “They each have their delights. Tim’s got no attitude to him, but Eric’s more playful; there’s a twinkle in his eye.” Friends say Bevan is the more down-to-earth of the two, while Fellner is the one who yearns for the trappings of tycoonery. “Eric,” says an intimate, “is very urbane and smooth and social, while Tim is more private, but Eric’s built on more fragile ground.” Fellner mentions that “I was a big drug addict, and the vein of addiction runs very, very deep.” That’s why, on the rare occasions that he gambles, “I have to be very disciplined. I just never will go into a casino except with a very small sum of money and no credit cards.”