The Green Mile Journal
Written by: Doug Hutchison
7/20/98-7/24/98 TABLE READ:
Table read-through in Fairbanks Gym at Warner Bros. Hollywood. Present: Tom Hanks (Paul
Edgecomb), David Morse (Brutal), Bonnie Hunt (Jan Edgecomb), Michael Clarke Duncan (John
Coffey), James Cromwell (Warden Hal Moores), Harry Dean Stanton (Toots), Michael Jeter (Del),
Sam Rockwell (Wild Bill), Barry Pepper (Dean Stanton), Frank Darabont (Director), David Valdes
(Exec. Prod. ), Mali Finn (Casting), various Castle Rock Reps, Assistants… and me (Percy
I have to keep running to the bathroom every hour or so to pinch myself and make sure I’m not
7/20/98 – 7/24/98 WEEK ONE:
We shoot on the Green Mile – death row – so called because the floor leading from the inmates’
Cells to “Ol’ Sparky” (the electric chair) is the color of faded limes. The set is amazing It’s a virtual
Penitentiary. You can almost feel the real ghosts of 1930s prisoners and guards in the faux cells
And corridors. The production designer is Terence Marsh who won Oscars for such films as Dr.
Zhivago and Oliver.
We shoot the scene where John Coffey is brought to the Mile. Michael Clarke Duncan is HUGE
(check him out in Armageddon). His arms are big as tree stumps. We all look like dwarves next
To Coffey (especially little ol’ 5’6″ me!).
Tom Hanks seems like the nicest guy in the world – friendly, funny, and totally accessible. David
Morse is a soft-spoken, gentle giant. Barry Pepper (who also played the young sniper in Saving
Private Ryan) is a joy to be around. Jeffrey DeMunn (playing Harry Terwilliger) is charming as
Hell. Frank Darabont – our fearless Director – knows exactly what he wants. It’s a thrill to watch
Him at work setting up shots and monitoring the
action on the video screen. He’s like an impish,
Cherubic boy. His eyes sparkle with excitement and he laughs easily when something strikes him
Funny. Frank sets the tone. The cast and crew seem to respect and work well with him.
The first day goes well. It’s a monstrous scene with a bazillion different sequences and shots.
We’re scheduled to shoot this initial scene over the next four or five days and, at most, it’ll equal
About five minutes of actual screen time (ever wonder why it takes three or four months to shoot
A two hour movie, folks??).
I fall asleep at night happily exhausted and dream of beating prisoners with my night stick (hehheh).
Get thee behind me, Percy…
7/27/98 – 7/31/98 WEEK TWO:
Conversation with David Morse about one of my favorite films, The Crossing Guard (Morse is
Brilliant in this movie. It’s an awe-inspiring performance.): he tells me how cool it was to work
With Jack Nicholson and how generous Jack was to cast and crew.
And speaking of generosity… Tom Hanks blows me away. He’s the consummate professional. In
The midst of massive publicity for Saving Private Ryan, he works long and hard with us and then
Takes off to do The Tonight Show, etc. But here’s the kicker: he’s invited to put his
Hand/footprints in the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre starwalk on Hollywood Blvd. He works,
Like, five hours with us on The Green Mile and then – on his lunch break – runs over to
Grauman’s Chinese to do the print thing and comes back to work (with cement dust fresh on the
Soles of his shoes) to do off-camera lines for my on-camera scene. Rumors abound about various
Big-time Hollywood movie stars with dreadful symptoms of full-blown diva-disease and here’s