Story by Daniel Pyne
This was a story I originally intended as a spec script, but Castle Rock got wind of it and made a pre-emptive offer for me to write and direct it, an arrangement that, like many bright beginnings, ended in a tangle of misunderstandings and recriminations. The movie I wrote, “The Sweet Disorder,” was basically the same plot and characters, but much dreamier and lyrical than the New Line final product, and the key difference was my rendering of the main character, Willy (Ryan Gosling). I had always intended for Willy to be a hard-working but not particularly gifted lawyer; I was fascinated by the notion of the perfect crime committed by a brilliant man who underestimates not so much the intelligence of his opponent but his moral certitude, Willy’s emotional honesty, and his unwillingness to admit defeat. The Willy of “The Sweet Disorder” is overmatched, faced with a case he cannot win, but is so certain of Crawford’s (Anthony Hopkins) guilt that he sacrifices his career to convict him. And he does it by realizing that Crawford’s achilles heel is his love for his wife, something that his intelligence won’t let him admit. Castle Rock objected to my original ending. I had a 12-month window of turnaround in which I nearly was able to set the movie up with another studio, but time ran out, Castle Rock took it back, the project languished for several years and (I think) several rewrites before Glen Gers did a version that New Line greenlit, and the movie was made. Ironically (or not) the ending they shot was not so different from the ending they rejected. Many people love the film. I have no argument with them, but was and am disappointed I was unable to direct my original script.