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Michael Connelly and Matthew McConaughey and 'The Lincoln Lawyer' [Video]

March 14, 2011 |  2:44 pm

Michael Connelly's 2005 mystery novel "The Lincoln Lawyer" is coming to big screens this weekend, and it may be the first time Connelly's work is well represented on screen. The film stars Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Haller, the lawyer who works out of his car, conducting business as he cruises the freeways between L.A. courthouses. In the Los Angeles Times Magazine, Connelly, a former Times reporter, writes about the experience of seeing his book translated to film:

The night before this visit to the set with the lawyers, I came by myself to watch the filming of what I think is the most important moment in the book and the film -- when all of lawyer Mickey Haller’s machinations and scheming come together. It’s a set piece with a lot of choreography of main characters and background movement. In the novel, momentum is the key component. It is so important it’s even announced on the cover with a shot of a blurred Lincoln Town Car speeding by.

As I watch the first three takes of the scene, I see that the director, screenwriter, actors and everybody have gotten the point. A momentum builds, an undeniable energy that seems to explode in a stare-down between lawyer and client -- McConaughey and Ryan Phillippe. As I watch, I am absolutely ecstatic. When the long scene ends with actor Bryan Cranston delivering the line of the movie -- “Are you a good guy or a bad guy, Haller?” -- I am at a loss for words. Me, the writer. I don’t have the words.

As Connelly's piece focuses on the momentum the film and character require, it's clear that it's an essential element of his own writing. Connelly has published more than two dozen books -- another Mickey Haller book, "The Fifth Witness," is coming in April -- and his piece for the L.A. Times Magazine snaps, swift and electric.

In person, though, he can be deceptively calm. It's McConaughey who chatters and offers the reporter a beer while they all ride together in the back of a car. Read more after the jump.


Alas, the reporter who tagged along with Connelly, McConaughey and a cooler of beer was not me. It was Steve Zeitchik who took a riding tour with the author and star while talking about the city and film. Zeitchik reports:

Parked down the street from Connelly's onetime residence -- which served as inspiration for Haller's home -- they discuss the building's remove from the city and how it symbolizes Haller's status as a legal-system outsider....

As McConaughey has his driver take him and Connelly to the author's former home, the actor pulling Coronas from a cooler next to his seat and offering bottles and limes to his ride mates, he says the experience of shooting across the city was an education. "We'd go to neighborhoods I'd never been to, that many people in L.A. have never seen, areas where you can feel a sense of desperation. Mothers and kids are walking in the park in the same square footage as the guys from the gang," he says.

Read the rest of Zeichik's report of his McConaughey-Connelly ride-along.

"Connelly is a skilled urban geographer," California historian Kevin Starr told the Times in 2010. "Like Raymond Chandler, he gives us Los Angeles in a prosaic, very realistic manner." But maybe at a slightly faster speed.


Connelly's devils in L.A.'s details

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Writer Michael Connelly and actor Matthew McConaughey seated in a Lincoln. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times