Actor Jamie Horton has been a critical and audience favorite at the Denver Center Theatre Company for almost two decades. He began as a charmingly eccentric young leading man; his current incarnation is as a chuckling, self-satisfied, middle-aged professor in Spinning Into Butter. Horton, however, has long had a second passion: writing.
Some twenty years ago, he found a book called Thy Son Liveth: Messages From a Soldier to His Mother in an abandoned house.
"It's about a theme I care deeply about," he says. "The book felt so right to me in terms of what happens when we pass on. The experiences were so tangible."
Horton set to work on a screenplay. In 1984, he met Peter O'Fallon, a Denver native with film and television directing credits, and they co-wrote a second draft. By this time, Horton had joined the Denver Center company. The script, then titled Messages, was given a reading by his fellow actors. O'Fallon eventually optioned the screenplay, but getting it produced was a struggle.
In 1998, famed actress Vanessa Redgrave agreed to play the female lead, and everything changed. Production began the next year on a budget of $5 million. At one point, Horton visited the set in Nova Scotia. He had lived with the screenplay so long, he says, and done numerous rewrites. "Hearing the words coming out of the mouths of these extraordinary actors was a thrill. It was hard to believe."
In addition to Redgrave, the film, now called A Rumor of Angels, stars Ray Liotta, Catherine McCormack and Ron Livingston. It tells the story of a boy struggling to deal with the pain of his mother's death. He is befriended by an eccentric old woman, but there's an edge of emotional danger to the relationship, according to Horton.
A Rumor of Angelswill be released in seven cities, including Denver. Horton says it has done well at festivals and L.A. test screenings. "It's a small movie with a small PR budget. Take a thousand of your friends to see it."