On May 17 2004, Robin Wright, Javier Bardem and Sean Penn presented ‘The Last Face’ project at the Cannes Film Festival in order to find financing.
In 1998, writer and director Erin Dignam had in development ‘The Last Face’ with Jeremy Irons and Isabelle Adjani in the leading roles. But the movie was not made and Dignam offered the female lead to her close friend Robin. They met in 1987 when Robin starred in ‘Denial’ and became best friends. (Erin Dignam is the godmother of Robin’s daughter Dylan Penn)
Then, in 1997, Dignam and Robin Wright worked together again in the movie ‘Loved’. Robin was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award as Best Female Lead and won as Best Actress at the Seattle International Film Festival.
From 2000 to 2009, Robin and Erin tried to do ‘The Last Face’ several times. It was a passion project for both of them. At that stage the male lead was offered to Javier Bardem.
In 2004, ‘The Last Face’ was almost made with Dignam directing, Wright and Bardem as Wren and Miguel and Sean Penn in a supporting role. That year Javier Bardem told to the spanish magazine Cinemania that he and Robin spent some weeks rehearsing in Sierra Leona. But at the last minute one important producer quit and the movie was not made.
In 2006, while promoting ‘Sorry, Haters’, Robin told SF Gate that the film she most wanted to do was ‘The Last Face’. “We’ve been trying to get financing for four years now”, Robin said, “It’s about two doctors, played by me and Javier Bardem, who work for a company like Medicins Sans Frontieres, but have opposing ideas about how we should save.”
Bardem, Wright and Dignam tried to do the movie several times with Ryan Gosling replacing Sean Penn and in early 2009 ‘The Last Face’ was again almost made.
“It took years to get financing because it’s such a difficult topic,” Wright said in January 2009, “It includes flashback scenes of the couple seeing bodies hanging from trees in refugee camps. My character comes back and does what John Prendergast is doing in real life. She tries to raise awareness, to push the agenda up on the list, to get more peacekeeping forces on the ground.”
Robin said that thanks to that movie she became friend with human rights activist John Prendergast (he was her advisor in the movie) and thanks to him she joined Enough project.
“I met him through a movie I was going to do, playing a doctor with Médecins sans Frontières, and he was my advisor on the film”, Robin said in 2014, “He helped me go to Senegal and Tanzania for research, and then he turned me on to the crisis in the Congo. I kind of became the spokesperson for the “Raise Hope for Congo” campaign”
But in late 2009, while promoting ‘The Private Lives of Pippa Lee’, Robin said in an interview: “The Last Face is not happening. We just couldn’t get the cast together when the financing was there and vice-versa and you run the gamut and hopefully someone will make it someday…”
And then, in 2014, ‘The Last Face’ was finally made with Sean Penn directing, Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem in the leading roles, and Sean and Robin’s son Hopper Penn in a supporting role (also this is his acting debut).