The new issue of Wired chronicles the fitful journey of Darren Aronfosky's The Fountain from crazy, big-budget sci-fi epic with A-list talent to temporarily shelved project to the crazy, polarizing, smaller-budget sci-fi epic with talent-of-slightly-lesser-wattage that will eventually reach theaters in late November, a frequently emotional trip that entailed the painful separation of the director from his onetime washboard-stomached partner, Brad Pitt:
The superstar actor began demanding extensive script revisions during conferences at his house in the Hollywood hills. The studio was asking for its own rewrites as well. In mid-2002, after endless script wrangling, Village Roadshow announced that it was withdrawing its support. Everyone on the project was immediately laid off. Weeks passed. Eventually another production house, New Regency, stepped in, and set construction recommenced down under. "We had cleared every hurdle you can imagine," Watson says. "There was a sense that now, finally, we were going to make this movie. The momentum was there."
Then, just seven weeks before the first day of shooting, Pitt called Aronofsky and told him he was pulling out. "After working together for two and a half years, Brad lost trust in me and faith in the project," Aronofsky admits. "He told me he felt like he was breaking up with a girl."
After that presumably heart-wrenching conversation, Pitt quickly attached himself to Troy and jetted off with director Wolfgang Peterson. But to his credit, Aronofsky handled the loss of Pitt's capricious affections with a delicacy not employed by another of the actor's suddenly jilted partners, refusing to cooperate with opportunistic tabloids seeking to exploit his pain in cover stories blaring headlines like DARREN SPEAKS; WHY BRAD LEFT ME FOR WOLFIE.