The film follows the saga of Whip Whitaker, played by Denzel Washington, a pilot who manages a spectacular, life-saving landing during a plane crash, sparing the lives of nearly everyone on board. He's hailed as a hero, but soon finds his life and reputation on the line when it emerges that he was drunk in the cockpit. Basically, it's the kind of grown up drama they don't make anymore, and for Gatins, he never really believed that it would make it in front of cameras.
Indeed, over the course of a decade Gatins tinkered and toyed with it, with no pressure but his own to see it through. "I lost motivation a few times. I honestly thought it was a movie that would never get made, so that script was the kind of a thing I'd pick up and put down, and get my yas-yas out a little bit sometimes, thinking maybe I'd make it someday as a very small version of it," he explained. "I didn't really think it was salable. I knew that R-rated dramas were really bad business for studios, they're not jumping out of their seat to pay money to make those movies."
Once you attract the attention of talent like Washington and a director such as Robert Zemeckis, wheels start turning pretty quickly. And soon the script crossed the desk of Goodman, who took to it immediately. "It wasn't the character so much as the whole piece. It was unpredictable, that's what made it so compelling to keep turning the pages, I never knew exactly what was going to happen. And I never really could figure out whether I liked the guy or not," he said of his character Harling Mays, an enabler, supplier and friend to Whip. "And my part was kind of a no brainer, it looked like a lot of fun, [he had] no redeeming qualities. At the core of it, I think my guy and Whip love each other very much."
Goodman also enjoyed having the chance to get a sense of how Washington and Zemeckis would work together before shooting began, and he was impressed. "It was best manifested in a two-day rehearsal read-through of the script before shooting, which was rare," he shared. "And I was amazed watching Denzel going through three or four different versions of the script, picking up moments that count, cutting off the fat, and things that were extraneous and shaping off with [with Robert Zemeckis] a really well-tailored script, and getting it down for them." Goodman prefers to see how lines will be delivered, and saves the performance for the camera. And as audiences will see, that approach pays off with a memorable turn.
"Flight" opens on November 2nd. The Savannah Film Festival runs until November 3rd.