LAST WEEK, MARSHALL opened in around 800 theaters across the United States. The film is a biopic of Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice. I was first approached to be involved in the film just prior to the start of principal photography.
It wasn’t an easy decision. I receive scores of scripts each year, so my usual vetting process begins with a thorough read-through of the screenplay. Stories of a biographical nature always give me heartburn. Not only must the script be factually accurate, but it must convey the sheer impact of the events illustrated. The combination of a wonderful script, and a supremely talented cast, meant this story would tell itself.
Once I’d been taken by the subject matter, I learned that Jonathan Sanger (who won an Oscar for The Elephant Man and is universally respected for his film selection and participation, not to mention his kindness) would be a producer on the film. This was an opportunity not to be missed so, for the first time, I agreed to invest in the project with no input into the production itself.
Marshall is a story of ‘firsts’: the first black attorney to try a case in Connecticut, the first civil rights trial of significance that resulted in an acquittal, and the birth of a trailblazer – the first black man on the Supreme Court of the United States. I felt the timing of the film was important, too, due to rising tensions over widely-reported brutality against the black community threatening to bubble over into something even worse.
I’m from the South, where much of the civil unrest that took place from the late-1950s to mid-1970s originated, and I found that a film of this nature illustrated what America should be: a country ruled by law, where justice is brought civilly in the courtroom, and not on the streets. In my eyes Thurgood Marshall was a man who took on the establishment by deploying his intellect, his tenacity and his passion for truth to secure just outcomes. With the odds stacked so heavily against him, he pursued the truth and represented a man who, according to all rational thought, would be convicted and killed for his alleged crime.
It’s an inspiring story. It might seem strange, but stories such as these – about pioneers doing something brave and different and triumphing against the odds – motivate me to pursue change in my working life. I see our responsibility at Advanced Tissue as making health-related matters an individual concern, and to empower those individuals by giving them to knowledge to care for themselves. With American health care in such a precarious state, taking on the mantle of industry leaders is no easy thing to do, but we believe it is a worthwhile pursuit. We see things differently from our peers in that we see patients first, and the health care system that treats them second. Technology and training is improving almost daily, and we truly believe all patients need and deserve the highest standards of care available.
Working on Marshall has been an honor on both a personal and professional level. The cast and the crew managed to create an accurate portrayal of an incredibly difficult situation and the result was a beautiful production that carries a very important message.