Peter Craig goes to town

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Much of the talk about this weekend’s ‘The Town’ has been about Ben Affleck, who wore multiple hats in making the crime drama. But one of the key unsung contributors to the Massachusetts character piece is Peter Craig, the novelist of family-oriented crime novels such as ‘Hot Plastic’ and ‘Blood Father.’

The author-cum-screenwriter began developing the script from Chuck Hogan’s novel ‘Prince of Thieves’ a number of years ago, when it was still to be directed by Adrian Lyne. (‘It was much more of a love story back then,’ Craig notes dryly.) Craig’s screenplay ended up on the Black List, Hollywood’s prestigious peer-approved group of the year’s hottest scripts.


The writer continued to refine the ‘Town’ script until Affleck joined the project in 2008, then began working on it with him. (The two share writing credit along with Affleck writing partner Aaron Stockard.) The project generated strong buzz in Toronto this week, and for good reason -- as my colleague John Horn wrote Thursday, Affleck drew upon the tales of real-life bank robbers to give his story heft.

As ‘The Town’ script began getting attention, Craig started to cook up some other hot assignments. He is pretty much finished working on ‘Bad Boys 3,’ the next installment in the Will Smith detective action-comedy from the Jerry Bruckheimer filmmaking machine. (It’s now waiting for Smith to finish shooting ‘Men in Black 3.’)

Not previously reported is that Craig has recently done a polish on ‘Horse Soldiers,’ another Bruckheimer project about the early days of the war in Afghanistan, during the post-9/11 U.S. invasion. Craig came on to do character work on that script after ‘Silence of the Lambs’ writer Ted Tally took a crack at it.

Afghanistan and Iraq movies have struggled commercially, but this story is seen as more straightforward and less tragic for U.S. soldiers, which may help its box-office prospects. ‘It’s like a war movie that doesn’t have a lot of combat in it,’ Craig says, adding, ‘It’s the one moment when we did everything right.’
Craig -- who, incidentally, is the son of Sally Field -- is putting pen to paper for the Warner Bros. adaptation of ‘Septimus Heap,’ the popular pre-adolescent British fantasy series. That news could mollify fans of the series, who might otherwise be worried that some of the character quirks would get lost as it moved to the screen. Craig is considered a sure hand at the art of character creation.

Finally, Craig is on board to write the English-language remake of ‘Fathers and Guns.’ The French-Canadian original, an action comedy about a father and a son, was a sensation in French-speaking parts of Canada, and Sony is hoping Craig, along with uber-producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy (‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,’ et al.) can turn it into an American hit.
Craig’s story is similar to that of many under-the radar writers -- a hot script gets them some good assignments, but their career only really gets supercharged as a movie begins to move forward with the likes of Ben Affleck.

’ ‘The Town’ feels like an indie movie,’ Craig says. ‘It’s nice that Warner Bros. did it -- and is putting so much behind it.’

--Steven Zeitchik