The Professor (2018 film)

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The Professor
The Professor.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWayne Roberts
Written byWayne Roberts
Produced by
  • Brian Kavanaugh-Jones
  • Greg Shapiro
  • Braden Aftergood
CinematographyTim Orr
Edited bySabine Emiliani
Music by
Distributed bySaban Films
Release dates
  • October 5, 2018 (2018-10-05) (Zurich)
  • May 17, 2019 (2019-05-17) (United States)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$3.6 million[1]

The Professor (alternatively titled Richard Says Goodbye) is a 2018 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Wayne Roberts. The film stars Johnny Depp, Rosemarie DeWitt, Danny Huston, Zoey Deutch, Ron Livingston, Odessa Young and Paloma Kwiatkowski.

It had its world premiere at the Zurich Film Festival on October 5, 2018. It was released on May 17, 2019, by Saban Films.


College English professor Richard Brown is in the office of his doctor and is told that he has advanced stage 4 cancer of his lungs, which has spread throughout his body and is terminal. His life expectancy is set by the doctor as being six months without treatment, which might be extended to 12–18 months with aggressive and painful cancer treatment. Richard is devastated by the news, becoming self-abusive in verbal tirades against himself and walking through town and around campus as if in an emotional stupor.

Upon arrival at home for dinner, Richard decides to tell his wife, Veronica and only daughter, Olivia, the bad news and prepare them for the worst. The dinner conversation takes an unexpected turn; his daughter announces that she is a lesbian and that she has taken a lover. Veronica dismisses her daughter as going through a phase, which causes Olivia to storm out of the dining room, upset by her mother's lack of support. Richard's relationship with his wife is troubled and Veronica confronts Richard with the fact that he has been a poor husband and that she has taken a lover, the dean of the college where Richard is tenured faculty in the English department. With everyone arguing at the dinner table, Richard does not break the news; when Veronica asks him what he was going to say, he says that he was concerned that he had overcooked the steaks.

On campus the next day, Richard begins telling his students about the urgency of living life to its fullest. He criticizes a number of stereotypes he superficially observes in the classroom and starts weeding out the students whom he feels are there to only get easy good grades or otherwise seek cosmetic benefits from a friendly faculty. After over half of the potential classroom students leave the class as being of no interest to them, Richard is left with a core group of students who seem attracted to his unorthodox version of straight talk. They decide to stick with the class and Richard's new unorthodoxy. Among the students remaining is the niece of the college dean, who seems to admire Richard for all his differences with her uncle since both of them are members of the faculty, in different departments.

Richard asks his friend, Peter Matthew, who happens to be his department's chairman, to arrange for an immediate sabbatical. The chairman tells him that it is impossible on such short notice but Richard presses him. Finally, Richard tells him that he is dying of cancer and that he has no option but to request immediate sabbatical leave. The chairman, who considers Richard a close friend and colleague, says that he will try his best and tries to reassure Richard as best as he can by way of some emotional support.

The classroom for Richard becomes a place for him to vent his frustration with life and to encourage his young students not to fall into the traps and false career paths that he has taken. The students are highly responsive, with one of the gay students offering Richard some pot brownies and a sexual tryst in Richard's office. The dean's niece, on another occasion, asks Richard for a slow romantic dance at a local club. Richard's reliance on alcohol and recreational drugs in these passing days and weeks after receiving his bad news becomes progressively worse. In one instance, he passes out and needs to be hospitalized because of his extreme intoxication. As his final words to his students, and later to his colleagues, he stresses the importance of seizing one's own existence. To truly acknowledge the fact that we are all going to die and appreciate the (little) time we each have left.

After his diagnosis, Richard becomes able to express warmth to his close family members and remaining friends. He finally bonds with his daughter by accepting her coming out as a lesbian and manages to at least partially make peace with his wife, during a frenzied and spontaneous drug experimentation episode in their bedroom, still without telling her about his impending death. In one of the final scenes at a faculty dinner where Richard is seated at a table of nobodies placed deliberately there by the dean. Richard eloquently berates the dean, tells his wife that for what it’s worth he loves her and announces to the whole faculty and families that he is dying, which mildly surprises his wife and other guests.

Richard goes home to wait for Olivia, who comes home crying, since her girlfriend has cheated on her. Richard comforts her and tells her that he is proud of her, then confesses that he is dying and says his final goodbye. He decides to leave his home and family for his sabbatical, which has been approved by the dean of the department. In the final scene, Richard comes across two paths on the road but decides to take neither and create and alternative on his own, driving with his dog into the night, choosing on a path of his own towards death, in his way.



On May 8, 2017, it was announced that Johnny Depp would star in a comedy-drama film Richard Says Goodbye as a college professor in the titular role, to be written and directed by Wayne Roberts following his debut film Katie Says Goodbye, which IM Global would be fully financing.[2] Brian Kavanaugh Jones would produce the film through his Automatik Entertainment along with IM Global's Greg Shapiro.[2] On July 20, 2017, Zoey Deutch was cast in the film to play one of the students of the professor.[3] The rest of the main cast was announced on July 25, 2017, which included Danny Huston, Rosemarie DeWitt, Devon Terrell, and Odessa Young.[4] It was reported that the film would be co-financed by IM Global and Cirrina Studios, with an additional financing by Leeding Media.[4]

Principal photography on the film began on July 25, 2017 in Vancouver.[5][6]


It had its world premiere at the Zurich Film Festival on October 5, 2018.[7][8] Prior to that, Saban Films and DirecTV Cinema acquired distribution rights to the film.[9] It was released on May 17, 2019.[10]


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 10% based on 20 reviews, with an average rating of 4.8/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "A muddled story populated with thinly written characters and arranged around a misguided Johnny Depp performance, The Professor fails early and often."[11] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 37 out of 100 based on 12 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[12]

Nick Allen of gave the film 2 out of 4,[13] while John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter said that "more an intriguing literary conceit than a credible drama".[14]


  1. ^ "The Professor". The-Numbers. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Lodderhose, Diana (May 8, 2017). "Johnny Depp To Star In Wayne Roberts' 'Richard Says Goodbye' For IM Global – Cannes". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  3. ^ Kroll, Justin (July 20, 2017). "Zoey Deutch to Co-Star With Johnny Depp in 'Richard Says Goodbye' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  4. ^ a b Lodderhose, Diana (July 25, 2017). "Danny Huston, Rosemarie Dewitt & More Join Johnny Depp In 'Richard Says Goodbye'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  5. ^ Brown, Scott (June 30, 2017). "Johnny Depp to film Richard Says Goodbye in Vancouver". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  6. ^ "Richard Says Goodbye Starts Filming with Johnny Depp". July 25, 2017. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  7. ^ Roxborough, Scott (September 12, 2018). "Johnny Depp's 'Richard Says Goodbye' to World Premiere at Zurich Film Festival". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  8. ^ "Richard Says Goodbye". Zurich Film Festival. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  9. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (September 10, 2018). "Saban Films, DirecTV Land Johnny Depp-Starrer 'Richard Says Goodbye' For $3 Million: Toronto". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  10. ^ Fernandez, Alexia (April 9, 2019). "Johnny Depp Plays a Man with Just Six Months to Live in First Trailer for The Professor". People. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  11. ^ "The Professor (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  12. ^ "The Professor". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  13. ^ Allen, Nick (May 17, 2019). "The Professor". Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  14. ^ DeFore, John (May 16, 2019). "The Professor': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 19, 2021.

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