10 years later, remastered 'Charly' back with an expanded storyline

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 8 2012 11:24 a.m. MDT

Sam drives away in his cherry-red car in the movie "Charly."

American Film Association

Lance C. Williams has spent almost 10 years bringing "Charly" back to the big screen.

Now, the producer of the original is pumped about the prospect of bringing back one of the most popular LDS films to the market, a film that brought in almost $1 million in 2002 and has been a top DVD seller for a decade.

"Charly" will return to theaters Aug. 10 in a digitally remastered format. But the project, which Williams has chipped away at a little every day for the past decade, is also about enhancing the story.

"It's fresh with new scenes and changes to the storyline, plugs in the holes," Williams said. "We've changed up some technical problems (and) made quite a few changes."

From the start, Williams, who has the words "It's the story, stupid!" emblazoned on the wall above his office door, has felt that the story of Charlene Riley meeting and falling for Mormon Sam Roberts is a powerful one. He also felt some elements of the story were shortchanged the first time around.

So he called in the original actors to shoot new scenes. The latest version of "Charly" recounts the character's conversion.

"It should have been in the first film," he said. "The changes make for a much more satisfying story."

Williams and his crew have expanded some parts and fixed some problems such as lengthening the time that Sam and Charly know each other before they get very serious in their relationship. They pulled Heather Beers and Jeremy Hoop, who played Charly and Sam, respectively, back several times for audio adjustments and reshoots.

"It's going to be cool," Williams said.

Beers said although she's done many subsequent films and projects since the original release of "Charly," it's Charly who gets recognized when she's out and about.

"Just about anywhere I go, from 3-year-olds to grandmas, people talk to me and ask me if I'm Charly," Beers said. "It's pretty amazing."

Going back to the character to shoot new scenes, especially the conversion scene, was challenging and surprisingly emotional, she said. "It was strange (to go back after) that many years to put myself back into the character."

Beers said she likes being associated with such a positive character.

"It did lead to other roles," she said. "It was my first big role for sure."

Hoop said it's been gratifying to see the film have a positive effect on those who saw it.

"It's touched a lot of people," he said. "I get a lot of that."

He hasn't seen the new scenes or the changes but he's interested to see "Charly" re-released.

Beers thinks releasing the film anew is a good idea.

"The thing that resonates with people is love," she said. "'Charly' (is) a hopeful film. That resonates."

Since "Charly" is based on the book by LDS author Jack Weyland and has a definitive Mormon theme, it makes sense to release it in the Utah market first.

Although the original movie saw success, Williams said they "were killed last time going up against 'Sweet Home Alabama' with Reese Witherspoon.

"We're making smarter choices this time," he said.

The Aug. 10 release date to first-run theaters was chosen carefully. The original release date was in February, but that conflicted with the release of a 3-D version of "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

"We have a ravenous fan base — fans who will be very excited to see the new version," Williams said. "There's also an entire generation who haven't seen 'Charly'."

West Ridge Academy in West Jordan is the movie's sponsor. A portion of the movie's profits will go back to the school to help troubled teens.

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: haddoc@desnews.com

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