‘The Town’ premiere hits Villanova, Wayne theater

Kendra Davis

Even though he claims “Villanova was the best four years of my life,” this year can’t be that bad, either, for “The Town” Producer Basil Iwanyk. When he graduated from Villanova, he was not sure what he was going to do with his degree in political science, but, given his family history, he had a hunch that he was destined for law school. 

The only inkling he had had toward a different career path was when he took a communication class entitled “Family and Film.” His professor had pulled him aside and mentioned that he had a gift for film analysis. He took her compliment to heart and decided to attend the USC School of Cinematic Arts, but he didn’t last more than one semester. Nevertheless, on Sept. 15 he was able to fill two theaters beyond capacity at the Anthony Wayne Cinema for a prescreening of “The Town” that was only open to the Villanova community. 

Like most in the movie industry, Iwanyk didn’t become the producer of more than 13 full-length films overnight. Rather, he began in the mail room of United Talent Agency. He describes his work there as “demeaning,” recalling one particular job which required him to take down Mike Myers’ Christmas tree because he was the only one tall enough. He had no connections, no one who could supposedly help him move up the ladder. He worked hard and eventually signed a deal with Warner Bros., where he has been for the past seven years. Before landing on “The Town,” he worked on movies including “Clash of the Titans,” “The Expendables” and “Brooklyn’s Finest.” Something about his latest film was different, though.Underlying the incessant violence and thick Bostonian accents that permeate the film are central themes of friendship, loss and desire. That — rather than the bloodshed — is what hit home for Iwanyk.

“I just emotionally connected to the idea of leaving your friends behind,” he says, noting that his two-day trip back to ‘Nova made him regret how many people with whom he has lost contact. 

The film was about much more than that, though. It took Iwanyk and his team a lot of background research to make sure that they not only did justice to “Prince of Thieves,” the book that it was based on, but also gave their audience an accurate portrayal of Charlestown, where the film is based. Given that 85 percent of Boston bank robbers grew up in Charlestown, many of the characters in the movie were actually played by former criminals from the area, and many of the props, like the masks, were recovered from real bank robberies. The character Rusty was played by a man who served 35 years in prison for manslaughter, and another actor had murdered two women while in his 20s. Iwanyk found it comical that while most people are eager to be extras in a Hollywood movie, the men that the filmmakers talked to at Walpole Prison were constantly saying, “You didn’t hear it from me. Don’t tell them I talked to you.” Ben Affleck, who plays the lead role, however, had no problem talking to anyone, because he is “the prince of Boston,” as Iwanyk calls him. 

“Ben is the nicest, coolest guy I’ve ever worked with in any capacity in the film business,” Iwanyk says. He knew that they would work well together as soon as they started two years ago. 

Iwanyk is pleasantly surprised that they wrapped up the film so quickly, as most, he pointed out, take closer to five years and cost much more. 

Still, he has to be wary of the economy; 30 percent fewer movies are being produced now than five years ago.

 “This is not the time to get creative,” he responded when an audience member asked him if he will ever try something a little more out-of-the-box. 

Nevertheless, he does have current and future projects including “A Star is Born” featuring Beyoncé and “The Unforgettable,” both due to come out next year. 

In the meantime, the father of two will try to spend more time with his family. He relayed to his audience that being a moviemaker is both a blessing and a curse. 

“My passion and my career are the same thing,” he says. “I can’t watch movies without deconstructing them in my head.” 

But you won’t find him complaining.

 “You would like to hang out with the people in this movie,” he says. “They’re cool people.” 

And, of course, filming at Fenway Park during Red Sox season had its perks.But then again, everything is a perk for Iwanyk these days. 

“Seventy percent of my success is blind luck,” he says. “Luck creates these little holes, and you have to run through ’em.”