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Neverwas is a 2005 Canadian-American fantasy drama film, written and directed by Joshua Michael Stern in his directorial debut. It stars Ian McKellen, Aaron Eckhart, Brittany Murphy, Nick Nolte, William Hurt, and Jessica Lange. It was first shown at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival. However, the film was never given a full theatrical release, eventually being released straight to DVD in 2007.

Neverwas (2005).jpg
Directed byJoshua Michael Stern
Produced by
Written byJoshua Michael Stern
Music byPhilip Glass
CinematographyMichael Grady
Edited bySteven Kemper
Distributed byMiramax Films
Release date
  • September 9, 2005 (2005-09-09) (Toronto)
Running time
108 minutes
  • United States
  • Canada


Zach Riley (Aaron Eckhart) is a psychiatrist who leaves a job at a prestigious university to take up a job at the privately run mental institution, Millwood, belonging to Dr. Reed (William Hurt). What he doesn't reveal at the time of his appointment is that this was the very place where his novelist father, T.L. Pierson (Nick Nolte), spent many years of his life as he battled chronic depression. T.L. later wrote a popular children's classic, Neverwas, about a child (based on young Zach himself) who enters a secret world to free a captive king. T.L. later committed suicide; Riley, who found the body, has always partly blamed himself for his father's death.

Riley is assigned to work with a schizophrenic patient, Gabriel Finch (Ian McKellen), and soon realizes that Finch sees himself as the captive king. As he listens to Finch and resumes his acquaintance with childhood friend Maggie Paige (Brittany Murphy) he realizes that more things link him to the book – and also to Finch's recovery – than he ever thought. T.L.'s novel was based on Finch's stories, told to him by Finch while both were patients in the hospital. Finch believes that the book is a sort of oracle confirming his personal reality, and that Riley is the boy hero. Riley comes to see himself this way in a sense, as he discovers that Finch's "hallucination" concerns actual places and events.[1][2][3]




The film was written and directed by filmmaker Joshua Michael Stern in his directorial debut. It was produced by Sidney Kimmel and Greg Shapiro, and co-produced by Aaron Eckhart who starred in the leading role. The film was distributed by Neverwas Productions and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2005. It was distributed by Miramax Home Entertainment for its home media release.[4] Owing to the theme of a fairy tale which is based on real events, the film has often been compared with Finding Neverland (2004).[5]


Principal photography took place in September 2004 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.[6][7]


  1. ^ "Neverwas (2005) – Overview". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "Promotional film on 'Neverwas'". YouTube. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  3. ^ "Review: Neverwas". Cinematical. July 3, 2007.
  4. ^ "Neverwas (2005) – Company Credits". Internet Movie Database.
  5. ^ "Neverwas (2005) -vs- Finding Neverland (2004) Review by Bryce Zabel". Movie Smackdown. July 2007.
  6. ^ "Neverwas (2005) – Box Office / Business". Internet Movie Database.
  7. ^ "Neverwas (2005) – Filming Locations". Internet Movie Database.

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