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Montgomery Advertiser

Local News - January 18, 2003

Casting for Big Fish

By Rick Harmon
Montgomery Advertiser

Sure, you may recognize Ewan McGregor, Jessica Lange or a half-dozen of the other stars who are in town to shoot Tim Burton's "Big Fish," but do you know the three Oscar-winning producers, the French actress some believe may become a star, or the internationally acclaimed cameraman who just finished shooting "Antwone Fisher"?

There are so many stars -- both in front of and behind the cameras -- in town for "Big Fish" that it may be hard for some Montgomerians to keep track of them all without a program.

So, for the stargazers, or just those who want to know how impressive some of these visitors are, here is a brief who's who of some of the better known filmmakers working on "Big Fish."

BEHIND THE CAMERAS

Tim Burton, director -- Born Aug. 25, 1958, Burton worked in Walt Disney Studio's animation department before making his big-screen directing debut with 1985's "Pee-wee's Big Adventure." This was followed by "Beetlejuice," "Batman," "Edward Scissorhands," "Batman Returns," "Ed Wood," "Mars Attacks!," "Sleepy Hollow," and "Planet of the Apes." He also wrote and produced "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Burton, famed for his visual imagination, is one of the most sought-after directors in Hollywood.

John August, screenplay writer -- After writing the critically acclaimed "Go," August convinced Columbia pictures to buy the rights to the book "Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions." Before doing "Big Fish" he wrote "Charlie's Angels" and the soon to be released "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle." He also was brought in for script revisions on "Jurassic Park III."

Daniel Wallace, author -- This former Alabama author has written "Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions" and "Ray In Reverse," and his newest book "The Watermelon King" will be published in March. He has also begun writing screenplays. His current project is an original screenplay for Universal entitled "Timeless."

Bruce Cohen, producer -- A Yale graduate, Cohen worked as first assistant director on "Arachnophobia" and "Hook" before producing films such as "The Flintstones," "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" and "Mousehunt." His first project producing with partner Dan Jinks was "American Beauty," which received the Oscar for best picture. The pair's comedy "Down With Love," staring Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger, will be in theaters April 18.

Dan Jinks, producer -- At first interested in acting, Jinks produced a successful college comedy show, which convinced him that producing great works could be just as satisfying as acting in them. After producing the comedy "Nothing to Lose," and the mystery "The Bone Collector," Jinks' first project with partner Bruce Cohen was the Oscar-winning "American Beauty."

Richard D. Zanuck, producer -- Winner of the prestigious Irving G. Thalberg award, the former president of 20th Century Fox studios (at 28, the youngest studio chief in history) has helped create some of Hollywood's greatest movies, from "Jaws," "The Sting," "Cocoon," and "The Verdict" to "Driving Miss Daisy," which won the Oscar for best picture. More recent movies he has produced include "Road To Perdition," "Reign of Fire," "Planet of the Apes," "True Crime" and "Deep Impact."

Danny Elfman, composer -- A member of Oingo Boingo, which had the hit "Weird Science," Elfman met a fan named Tim Burton. His collaborations with the famous director began with Burton's first full-length film, "Pee-wee's Big adventure," and has included virtually all the director's films. Elfman has also written music for such movies as "Dick Tracy," "Darkman," "Black Beauty," "Spider-Man," "Mission Impossible" and "Men In Black," as well as the theme to "The Simpsons."

Philippe Rousselot, cinematographer -- Rousselot just finished shooting Denzel Washington's directing debut "Antwone Fisher." His other movies include 1989's "The Bear," "Sommersby," "Henry June," "The People vs. Larry Flynt," "Interview with the Vampire," "Hope and Glory," "Instinct," "Remember the Titans," "Planet of the Apes," and "A River Runs Through It," for which he won the Oscar.

Colleen Atwood, costume design -- Atwood has five Oscar nominations, beginning with 1994's "Little Women." Her films include "Edward Scissorhands," "The Silence of the Lambs," "Philadelphia," "Ed Wood," "That Thing You Do," "Mars Attacks!," "Sleepy Hollow," "Planet of the Apes" and "Chicago."

IN FRONT OF THE CAMERAS

Ewan McGregor (Young Edward Bloom) -- Although the 31-year-old actor had given several fine performances, including Alex Law in 1994's "Shallow Grave," it was his brilliant performance in 1996's "Trainspotting" that brought him widespread attention. Since then his roles have ranged from Christian in "Moulin Rouge!" to Obi-wan Kenobi in the "Star Wars" prequels. He has been married to French production designer Eve Mavrakis for seven years. They have two children.

Albert Finney (Old Edward Bloom) -- Finney's first film was 1960's "The Entertainer" with Laurence Olivier. By 1963, he had received the first of what would prove to be many Oscar nominations with Tony Richardson's "Tom Jones." The 66-year-old performer has made a multitude of popular and critically acclaimed movies, including "Erin Brockovich," "Traffic," "Annie," "Under the Volcano," "Miller's Crossing," "Two for the Road," "The Dresser," "Charlie Bubbles," "Murder on the Orient Express," "Scrooge," and "The Gathering Storm," the HBO movie for which he won a Golden Globe this year and for which he had already won an Emmy.

Billy Crudup (Edward's son, William Bloom) -- His best known role may be Russell Hammond, the rock guitarist in "Almost Famous," but Crudup has had a noteworthy acting career on and off the screen. The 34-year-old star has appeared in such films as "Sleepers," "Inventing the Abbotts," the Steve Prefontaine biography "Without Limits," and "Charlotte Gray," while continuing a thriving Broadway and off-Broadway career.

Jessica Lange (Edward's wife, Sandy Bloom) -- Lange is best known in Alabama for her Oscar-winning performance in "Blue Sky," which was filmed in and around Selma. The former model's career, which began with a remake of "King Kong," has included such films as "Frances," "Tootsie," (for which she also won an Oscar), "Crimes of the Heart," "Everybody's All American," "Cape Fear," "Rob Roy," "A Thousand Acres" and "Titus."

Helena Bonham Carter (Jenny, a witch) -- She first won the hearts of most filmgoers in 1986's "A Room with a View," but has starred in numerous independent films, such as the acclaimed "The Wings of the Dove" and "Howards End," as well as larger blockbuster-style movies, such as "Frankenstein," "Fight Club," and "Planet of the Apes," where she met and began dating director Tim Burton. Some of the star's other films include Woody Allen's "Mighty Aphrodite," "Twelfth Night: Or What You Will," 1990's "Hamlet" and "Live From Baghdad," the HBO movie which earned her a Golden Globe nomination this year.

Steve Buscemi (Norther Winslow, poet and bankrobber) -- The 45-year-old actor is one of modern film's great character actors. He was Mr. Pink in "Reservoir Dogs," Buddy Holly in "Pulp Fiction," the narrator in "Desperado," The Marietta Mangler in "Con Air," Rockhound in "Armageddon," Seymour in "Ghost World," and the voice of Randall Boggs in "Monsters Inc." He has helped make good movies like "Fargo" great, and not-so-good movies, such as "Domestic Disturbance," a lot more fun.

Danny DeVito (Amos, the circus ringmaster) -- He became famous playing the tyrannical Louie De Palma on the hit TV comedy "Taxi" and then became a far bigger star on the big screen. His film performances include "Romancing the Stone," "Ruthless People," "Tin Men," "Batman Returns," "Get Shorty," "Mars Attacks!," "L.A. Confidential," and "Heist." He directed and starred in such acclaimed movies as "Throw Momma from the Train," "War of the Roses" and "Hoffa," not to mention the wonderful 1996 children's film "Matilda."

Alison Lohman (Young Sandy Bloom) -- An excellent singer, Lohman was winning theater awards as a teenager. The 23-year-old actress had her breakthrough film role last year starring opposite Michelle Pfeiffer in "White Oleander" and is currently performing on the London stage.

Robert Guillaume -- He won a Tony award in the 70s for "Purlie," and was nominated for another for "Guys and Dolls." He also starred in the L.A. production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera," but for millions he will always be best remembered for his role as Benson DuBois in the hit TV-comedy "Benson," for which he won two Emmys and four NAACP Awards. He is also the author of "Guillaume: A Life" and will read and sign copies of his autobiography from 2-3:30 p.m. Feb. 2 at Capitol Book News and from 4-5:30 p.m. Feb. 2 at Barnes and Noble.

Marion Cotillard (William Bloom's wife) -- Well known in France, particularly for her continuing role in the popular Luc Besson-written "Taxi" series, some are predicting that "Big Fish" may be the film to translate her stardom to American audiences.