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Mark Ciardi Interview
by Diana Saenger

Producer and actor Mark Ciardi is known for The Rookie (2002), The Game Plan (2007), Secretariat (2010), Invincible (2006), McFarland (2015), and Million Dollar Arm (2014). He is also the co-producer -- with Chris Fenton -- for Chappaquiddick (2017) and the founder/CEO of Apex Entertainment as well as a former Major League baseball pitcher. This busy man took time out of his schedule to speak with me about Chappaquiddick. That interview follows.

Question: ďChappaquiddickĒ is a really interesting film. Why did you want to be a producer on this film?

CIARDI: I started an independent film company three years ago and just wanted to find movies that really moved me. I didnít set out to make a movie of Chappaquiddick, and I didnít develop it. The script was finished and came to us. We loved it and optioned it. We felt like the story was interesting enough to be told so we set out to make it and didnít get any resistance in Hollywood. While casting we were able to get John Curran, a filmmaker of high quality; and then it was just to execute it.

Question: What were your major contributions or responsibilities?

CIARDI: Pretty much everything. We financed the movie, produced it, and made every decision. It was a vast project to pull together especially being a period peace and also one that we knew would be a challenge to get everything right. So there was a lot of prep in getting it just right. We had multiple locations and went to New Mexico to re-creating the bridge. To do our entire tank work was a big endeavor. We shot for about 33 days.

Question: There has been some reaction from some of the people connected to what really happened. Do  you think that will have any backlash on the film?

CIARDI: No. Itís probably a story that some people didnít want to tell. We used the inquest as the main source material for the movie, and I think it was very fair and balanced, certainly for Ted. It showed emotional moments, situations and relationships. It wasnít fallacious as it could have been. From all the rumors and innuendos we heard we couldíve made a much different movie.

Question: The cast was amazing. Did you have specific things in casting the actors that you wanted to see?

CIARDI: Jason Clarke stepped forward very early, and aside from the fact that he resembles Ted, he just loved the script. We had several people responding and we just had to get it right and making sure to have the right people in the right role. We did think outside the box of getting Ed Helms and Jim Gaffigan and more comedic actors. To play two very serious roles was a leap, and those guys did a tremendous job. There are moments in the middle part of the movie that are almost farcical and the audience has laughed a little bit just letting out the steam of some of the situations. As director, John wanted to have a balance of serious material with lightness in some ways of the characters.

Question: What are you hoping people who see the film will take away and be talking about when they leave the theater?

CIARDI: Itís an amazing week in our American history and going back in time in the backdrop of the moon landing that may be the biggest achievement in the 20th century. And then this story happens and we frame the movie. Heís the last son, he lost three brothers and itís the year after Bobby was assassinated. So itís a series of bad choices, and to be able to watch powerful people and how they respond and can cover up and spin is relevant to everything thatís going on in political history. And history repeats itself in some ways with the abuse of power with such things like Harvey Weinstein in wrongdoings.  If you didnít know about Chappaquiddick and to frame it as a true story as a tumultuous week in our history, it adds more weight to the events that happened. Chappaquiddick is a thriller and page turner.

(This interview also appears in the San Diego East County Gazette and on the website.)

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