When Clint Eastwood was researching his film about Iwo Jima, Flags Of Our Fathers, he came across letters from the Japanese commander during the American assault on the island and wanted to use them as the basis for a companion film, explains Jay A. Fernandez in the LA Times.
Eastwood brought the project to his best picture-winning "Million Dollar Baby" screenwriter, Paul Haggis, who was too buried in post-production on "Crash" to write it but who took it upon himself to find another screenwriter. Yamashita's agent at Creative Artists Agency got wind of the open assignment and sent Haggis (also a CAA client) some of her scripts.
"They were very different, very well researched and had a distinct sense of time and place," Haggis says via e-mail from New Mexico, where he's shooting his follow up to "Crash," "In the Valley of Elah," a drama about the suspicious disappearance of an Iraq war soldier.
At the time, Yamashita, who declines to reveal her age, was working full time as a Web programmer and had yet to sell a spec or get a paid assignment. But during their second meeting, Haggis suddenly decided that she was right for the gig and told Yamashita, "OK, now you can quit your job."