'Big Eyes' and the Real Walter Keane -- "Stranger Than Fiction"

December 5, 2014 5:14 PM

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The easiest way to shorthand Margaret and Walter Keane's story is to call it "stranger than fiction." Perhaps we fought for ten years to make a film about them because this was truly one of the most insane real-life tales we'd ever encountered. In the 1960s, their ubiquitous paintings of wide-eyed, sad children took the art world by storm. Yet Margaret actually created them in secret, while her showboating, controlling husband Walter took all the credit. Years later, Margaret acknowledges that the psychic energy and emotion devoted to this cover-up eventually become a bigger, more grotesque monster than the fraud itself.

Right off the bat, Walter's outsize personality seemed to fit into the mold of the films we like to make. Traditional biopics are fine for Great Men, but to us it's more interesting to portray a passionate, cockeyed anti-hero. We love obscure iconoclasts. We also love to mix tones, since that is rea...

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