"Finding Neverland," starting Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, premieres on Nov. 12 and has been spoken as a possible Oscar contender for months. And Becker is the associate producer.
In 1997, while acting in a theater troupe in Manhattan, Becker thought that one of the group's plays, "The Man Who Was Peter Pan," might make a good feature film. She and fellow actress Nellie Bellflower optioned the rights to Allan Knee's play and recruited another actor in the company to write the film script.
"Finding Neverland" centers on J.M. Barrie, who wrote the play "Peter Pan" in London in the 1800s. In real life, he had befriended his neighbor, a widow, and her sons. They became the inspiration for the Lost Boys in "Peter Pan."
The picture had a private New York premiere this past Monday that drew notables including Hillary Clinton and Miramax Chairman Harvey Weinstein. It has received unusually effusive reviews. Newsday gushed: "Beautifully realized, exquisitely acted. Capturing all the light and dark of childhood hope and fantasy and adult disillusionment. The performances are beyond reproach." They also reported that Ben Stiller and Tony Danza cried at Monday's premiere.
Becker lives in Hoboken with husband Joe Falzarano - a television producer and owner of Big Fun Toys - and their 2-year-old son, Will. In June of 2002, while pregnant with Will, she talked with the Reporter about how excited she was that "Neverland" would be coming out soon. But in the end, only Will came out within a year.
Becker's cinematic baby, on the other hand, was held up because Columbia Pictures' live-action Peter Pan movie premiered in 2003. Then, "Finding Neverland" was postponed until this November so it would be closer to the end of the year, when Academy Award contenders are usually released.
"Everyone's talking about Johnny Depp getting the best actor nomination," Becker said recently in the offices of Big Fun. "I hope David [Magee], who wrote the script, gets best adapted screenplay. Of course, I'd like it to get best picture."
Becker and Bellflower started working on the film in 1997. After they got the script from Magee, they went to a film agent, who arranged a meeting with producer Richard Gladstein ("Ciderhouse Rules," "Bourne Identity"). Miramax acquired the project, and director Marc Forster ("Monster's Ball") became attached.
Becker has lost track of how many times she has seen the film.
"Everything showed up in the film as beautiful as in my head," she said. "Marc did an incredible job, and you will cry. It's definitely a bit of a tearjerker in the end." She added, "It's a great family film. I think kids 9, 10 and older will appreciate it. It's a beautiful movie. I hope it becomes a classic."
What it's like
"The screenplay stayed remarkably intact," Becker added. "A couple of actors, especially Dustin Hoffman, asked for revisions which enhanced their characters for the better. This was one of the golden experiences I might never have again in film."
Becker has also been running her and her husband's production company, BeachFront Films in Manhattan. The company is involved in other projects, including a movie about Deadheads on the day of Jerry Garcia's death, and a period piece about a young female court jester for Mary, Queen of Scots.
Becker is also helping Falzarano run both Big Fun locations (there is one in Manhattan). "It's a great respite from the craziness of Hollywood," she said. "I might get off a frustrating call from Hollywood, and then sell someone a Whoopee cushion. It puts it all in perspective."
Becker and Falzarano met in the 1980s when she was working as a waitress at Caroline's comedy club where he was the entertainment director. She began acting in local theater groups. The "Neverland" script was her first foray into movies, and it's a big one.
Now, she and Falzarano have been attending parties for the long-awaited project.
"All I know is, we had a baby in nine months," she said. "He's now two years old. It's going to be well worth the wait."