August 21, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

Apt Pupil

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
111 minutes
performer
Ian McKellen, Brad Renfro, David Schwimmer
director
Bryan Singer
genre
Drama, Mystery and Thriller, Horror

STARRING Ian McKellen, Brad Renfro, David Schwimmer, Bruce Davison, Joe Morton, Elias Koteas

DIRECTED BY Bryan Singer

We never thought we’d see the day. After more than a decade of fits and starts, the attempt to bring Stephen King’s novella about the deadly friendship between a former Nazi war criminal and a white-bread teen to the screen is finally drawing to a close. An earlier production, starring Nicol Williamson and Ricky (now Rick) Schroder, was shut down in 1987 when it ran out of funding; this effort by Singer (The Usual Suspects) was dropped from Spelling Films after disagreements between Singer and producer Scott Rudin, then rescued by Phoenix Pictures. And the headaches still weren’t over: Once Singer started filming in spring 1997, two teen extras filed suit against the production after taking part in a shower scene, claiming they were forced to disrobe for the cameras; the lawsuit is still pending. ”It seems to have a curse on it,” McKellen says of the movie adaptation, which features Schwimmer as a dorky guidance counselor who suspects foul play, Koteas (Crash) as a homeless man who falls victim to the ex-Nazi and the teen, and perhaps some sexual tension between McKellen and Renfro. In other words, not exactly a family fall drama. ”I can’t guarantee that this is going to be your average crowd-pleaser,” says the director. ”But it’ll definitely be something unique.” (Oct. 23)

THE LOWDOWN After The Usual Suspects, Singer could direct a test pattern and we’d take notice, but the tricky subject matter could keep others from tuning in.

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