Domino - Official Production Notes
Domino Harvey, the inspiration for Tony Scott’s film, died in her Los Angeles home on the evening of June 27th, 2005 at the age of 35.
Domino never failed to surprise or inspire
me over the last 12 years. She was a free spirit like no other I have ever
Although our film is not intended as a
biographical piece, hers was the dynamic personality and indomitable spirit
that spawned an exciting adventure, not just on screen, but in real life.
Smart. Daring. Defiant and dangerous. As well as beautiful. This is Domino Harvey and this is her real life story…well, sort of.
The daughter of respected actor and matinee idol Lawrence Harvey, and model turned socialite Sophie Wynn, Domino Harvey (Keira Knightley) was born into a life of wealth and privilege – a lifestyle that did not interest her. Even from her earliest years, Domino rebelled against convention and the jet set. At the tender age of eight her beloved father passed away and her mother looked to the stability of boarding school in a misguided attempt to tame her wild child. But nothing could repress Domino’s fiery nature – not friendships, not school, not her mother’s high society. Even the extraordinary excesses paraded before her during a brief stint at modeling paled in comparison to her own escapades. Not until she stumbled upon a job seminar recruiting aspiring bounty hunters was her thirst for excitement at long last quenched. To Sophie’s (Jacqueline Bisset) horror, Domino not only fell in love with the job but also with her fellow adventurers, who over the years would become her family.
And so our tale of adventure, action and suspense, tinged with dark comedy, begins . . .
Domino finds her true calling and joins a colorful band of reprobates that includes her wolfish yet formidable ex-con boss, Ed Mosbey (Mickey Rourke); Choco (Edgar Ramirez), a ruggedly sexy Latino who secretly worships Domino; and Alf (Rizwan Abbasi), an Afghani ex-pat obsessed with explosives. An unlikely foursome to be sure, but their synchronized style consistently results in the capture of felonious bail jumpers. Before long they become L.A.’s most successful, not to mention infamous, bounty hunters. And where better to show off one’s talent than on television?
When producer Mark Heiss (Christopher Walken) and his faithful assistant, Kimmie (Mena Suvari), come knocking, the bounty hunters agree to become the stars of a new reality television show, “The Bounty Squad”, hosted by Beverly Hills 90210’s Ian Ziering and Brian Austin Green (as themselves). Unbeknownst to cast and crew alike, Domino, Ed, Choco and Alf are about to embark on their biggest case ever.
In a bizarre turn, the bounty hunters find themselves tracking the most dangerous fugitives of their careers thanks to the antics of their employer, bail bondsman Claremont Williams III (Delroy Lindo). Faced with a financial crisis concerning his extended family – including his girlfriend, Lateesha (Mo’Nique), their daughter and granddaughter, as well as Lateesha’s twin cousins Lashandra (Macy Gray) and Lashindra (Shondrella Avery) – Claremont hatches a reckless plan to extricate himself from economic ruin. When his plan goes awry, Domino and her team blast their way out of a complex FBI investigation, led by criminal psychologist Taryn Miles (Lucy Liu), that involves the mob, a couple of errant college students and some ‘greazee’ white trash thieves.
New Line Cinema and Samuel Hadida present Domino, a Scott Free/Davis Films production in association with Metropolitan Film Export. Directed by Tony Scott, the film stars Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke, Edgar Ramirez, Delroy Lindo, Mo’Nique, Mena Suvari, Macy Gray, Jacqueline Bisset, Dabney Coleman, with Lucy Liu and Christopher Walken. The story is by Richard Kelly and Steve Barancik and the screenplay was written by Richard Kelly. The film is produced by Samuel Hadida and Tony Scott. The executive producers are Barry Waldman, Toby Emmerich, Victor Hadida, Zach Schiff-Abrams, Lisa Ellzey and Skip Chaisson.
New Line Cinema will release Domino (rated
“R” by the M.P.A.A. for “strong violence, pervasive language, sexual content/nudity
and drug use”) nationwide on October 14th, 2005.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
Director Tony Scott has had a lengthy history with Domino. He first met his muse, Domino Harvey, more than ten years ago after his business manager, Neville Shulman, sent him an article from what Scott refers to as a “rag newspaper” in London. The article depicted the life of a young woman who had decided to become a bail recovery agent and follow the seamier side of life, both personally and professionally. But what really piqued both men’s interest was the fact that this young woman was actor Lawrence Harvey’s (The Manchurian Candidate) daughter, from a very privileged and gentrified background.
Scott immediately got in touch with the then-20-year-old. He invited her to his office and a week later, the two were in discussions to put a version of her life story on screen. The director always planned to begin with an outline of Domino’s life, but from the start never intended to produce a strictly biographical piece. In some cases, he even shied away from using people’s real names “because I was misrepresenting what had actually happened in their lives,” the director says.
Over the years Domino became a surrogate daughter to Scott. He attempted to watch over her and her comrades as best he could, but even the most concerned and involved father cannot always dissuade his children from foolhardy pursuits and destructive behavior.
“I kept telling Domino, ‘You’re crazy,’” Scott recalls. “She was into lots of dangerous things other than bounty hunting, and I said, ‘Watch out. You’re gonna kick down one too many doors.’ But she said storming through those doors with a shotgun in her hand was the biggest adrenaline rush she’d ever had, and it helped to quell the voices in her head, so there was nothing I could say or do that would change her attitude.”
“When I met Domino, she was living at home in Beverly Hills with her Mum and stepfather, Peter Morton, the famous restaurateur. She’d leave her guns in the garage and pick them up when she went on these bounty hunting missions. She was living two distinctly different lives.”
“I also met with Domino’s team,” recounts Scott. “They were infamous even ten years ago when there weren’t that many bounty hunters around. They used her as a cover or as a carrot, whichever the situation warranted. But make no mistake, bounty hunting is a tough, dangerous business.”
Several different screenwriters took a stab at the story, but to Scott’s dismay, they were more interested in writing a very straightforward portrayal of Domino’s life that Scott describes as “solid, but way too linear.” When Scott gave the same assignment to Richard Kelly, he got more than he bargained for.
“I read Southland Tales and I saw Donnie Darko, and thought Richard had an interesting voice,” says Scott. “He takes an unusual and very imaginative approach in terms of his comedic elements and his darker, almost sci-fi side. He manufactured the story but left the characters as real, breathing people.”
Kelly came up with the thread for his fictional story while sitting at a Santa Monica Department of Motor Vehicles office attempting to correct a snafu with his driver’s license. The DMV acts as the conduit for all of humanity; it is the source of all information and the nucleus of each story within the film. Kelly also uses the shortcomings of the DMV as an allegory for America’s poor overall health care system.
“The DMV is a mess,” says Kelly. “All of these people are processed through a system that is flawed, just like our health care system, which is a disaster. Ultimately the thieves, followed by the would be bounty hunters, the Mafia, the FBI and some other thieves all have to go through this institution for the money they’re searching for.”
“It’s a very complex story,” Scott admits. “It’s a huge jigsaw puzzle. The audience has to pay attention in order to stay with all the beats of the story. We play it in forward and we play it in flashback. But for me the story is really about a girl who lives in the house on the hill and dreams of being a bounty hunter and then escapes that dream by the skin of her teeth – time stood still for that period – and that was the real Domino.”
Throughout the film Domino flips a coin in the air. Heads, you live. Tails, you die. “She flips the coin, wondering where it’s going to land. That’s a running theme in the film. And in the end, it always landed just right for her,” says Scott. “And just like a coin, she had two distinct sides; she was an adrenaline junkie and a wounded bird, but she always lived life with the throttle wide open.”
When Scott was certain he had a film to make, he called upon longtime friend and associate Samuel Hadida (True Romance, Brotherhood of the Wolf, Resident Evil) to produce the picture. “Sammy has always flown my flag,” says Scott. “He trusts me, and trust was paramount in terms of making this movie because it’s dangerous material. The box office appeal is not necessarily readily apparent, but he let me do my thing, for better or worse, and believed that I was going to come through.”
Samuel Hadida and his brother, executive producer Victor Hadida, were only too eager to work with Scott again. Samuel had produced the director’s True Romance, which although critically praised, was a film released before its time and so was not the box office success everyone had hoped it would be. But that outcome did not deter the French producers who gravitate to more artistic, less conventional projects.
Hadida first heard about the Domino project during a dinner party at Scott’s house. Inquiring as to what was next for the director, Hadida became privy to Scott’s long-standing pet project about Pancho Villa, as well as a newer idea based on an article Scott had read about a young woman who worked as a bounty hunter. Knowing how long it can take for an idea to become a viable script, Hadida did not revisit the discussion for several years.
In 2002 Hadida met Richard Kelly. “I first became acquainted with Richard when we were distributing Donnie Darko, which he’d written and directed,” says Hadida. “We were talking one day and he told me he was writing a script for Tony Scott. I couldn’t believe it when he told me it was the screenplay for Domino. It had been ten years since I’d first heard Tony’s plans, so I told Richard I would love to read it once he was finished. Next thing I know, Tony is calling me, telling me that he was trying to get the movie done, that he has a small window of opportunity because Keira Knightley is only available from October to December and asking would I be interested?”
The next day Scott sent Hadida the newest script, his latest BMW commercial and a ripomatic (an edited video trailer of sorts utilizing images and clips from past movies, commercials and television shows to suggest the proposed look for a project in the works, used more in the commercial world), he had put together so that Hadida could get a feel for the look and tone Scott envisioned for the film. He also sent a print of Man on Fire, which had yet to open in Europe. Hadida spent the evening in his Paris office looking over the materials and called Scott with his decision the next morning. He was in.
“The ripomatic gave me a sense of the story and gave me a visual,” Hadida remembers “It began with a girl’s voiceover and up came a beautiful model, a gun, a coin flipping in the air; it was a cool blueprint of an idea that gave me a sense of the cinematic experience working in Tony’s head.”
“The script was very edgy,” he continues. “There was a darkness to it and humor, it was emotional and took you for a ride, but the character was still believable and three-dimensional. It wasn’t the same old idea; I felt we were treading on some new ground. I like when I open a script and I can read to the end without putting it down. When it holds my interest, when I begin thinking like the characters as I read, when I become a little worried and nervous about how we’re going to make the film, that’s when I am attracted to a project, because I like challenges. The strong female lead and the action also reminded me of True Romance, which was a great experience. Richard’s script for Domino not only had all the dramatic elements, it was incredibly textured and layered so that you never knew where it was going next.”
Samuel and Victor Hadida are the principals of Metropolitan Films. At present, they are setting up satellite offices in Hollywood to deal with the influx of projects the company is currently developing. While Victor remains a constant guiding force in the Paris office, Samuel is more gregarious and spends as much time as possible with the production, on their movie sets. A particularly affable man, his philosophy has always been one slanted toward giving the artist room to develop his or her talents and bring to the fore their own, unique perspective of any given subject. His good nature and constant zeal for the company’s many collaborators is exceptional in today’s film industry.
Hadida feels that he was “the perfect partner producer” to come in and take over the reins of the project. “Tony had spent so many years developing the script and it had finally come to maturity and he’d found the perfect actress for the role in Keira Knightley. It had been a long engagement and with the two of us there was a perfect marriage. When the time is right, there is no stopping the process.”
“Being European,” Hadida continues, “we are director driven, so Tony knows we will not be tapping him on the shoulder or twisting his arm with directives or overbearing suggestions. We are not a studio, we make independent pictures for studios and we have a bond with our filmmakers.”
“Working with Tony is always a special experience,” says Victor Hadida. “He is forever pushing his boundaries and attempting some new endeavor, and he brings us, as audience members, along for the ride.“
Once the Hadidas were on board, they sent the script to New Line Cinema, a company known for taking the road less traveled and making cutting edge films. The company’s co-chairman/CEO Bob Shaye and production president Toby Emmerich knew the schedule Scott and Hadida had set for themselves would be grueling, but they were so happy to work with the filmmakers and Knightley that they immediately moved forward to lock the deal in 24 hours. The Hadidas have distributed New Line Cinema movies in France and in French-speaking countries around the world for 15 years.
“An added bonus of agreeing to become involved with this project was that Samuel and I were able to bring to Tony our valuable relationships with everyone at New Line Cinema,” he says. “Samuel and I think of New Line as our home away from home, so this was a great combination for us.”
“Odd characters have always appealed to me, “ Tony Scott says, referring to the title character of his film. “She’s definitely out there.”
He cast 20-year-old Keira Knightley from gut instinct. “Domino and Keira are different personalities to be sure,” the director says. “The real Domino was darker, a little more out there, but on the surface they are both English girls – a little innocence, a little Princess Di mixed with discomfort at being slotted into that role. They both come from a different planet that does not mix well with the dark world of bounty hunting. I could see Keira as that girl. Taking Keira on this journey of being Domino Harvey was akin to how the real Domino felt when first being exposed to this dark world.”
Scott first saw Knightley in longtime friend Jerry Bruckheimer’s Pirates of the Caribbean, while Hadida knew her not only from Pirates but also from other roles including Bend it Like Beckham (which he distributed) and Love Actually.
“Keira’s an actress on the rise,” says Hadida, “and Tony was adamant that we should not miss her. Keira has the innocence, the charisma and the presence we wanted. We decided we couldn’t make the movie without her. It was a no-brainer. Although her schedule did put us under some pressure,” he explains, “I believe that you need pressure to make a good movie. It adds energy to the set.”
In April 2004 Knightley made a whirlwind trip from London to L.A. for a breakfast meeting with Scott. “I absolutely loved the script,” she says. “It’s such a mad story; it’s got action, sexuality, violence, bad language…but it’s very funny. I wanted to meet the people behind that dark sense of humor and I was excited by the prospect of doing something a little crazy that I hadn’t done before. Meeting Tony was a thrill; he is so excited by life and by what he does that it’s catching.”
Knightley is quick to point out that her portrayal is not an imitation of the real Domino; rather the actress drew from the film’s real-life muse for inspiration. “There is no point in doing an accurate characterization unless the entire story is accurate,” she says. “So that gave me a lot of freedom to explore the mentality of someone who comes from a privileged background and decides to go off on her own path, in a completely opposite direction. She had a strong rebellious streak. I found the combination fascinating. And even though Domino knew that we were not one hundred percent faithful to her story, I hope she would have liked what we created.”
The film version of Domino Harvey’s life takes license from the very beginning. In Scott’s version her mother and sister first move from London to Los Angeles in 1990. It is not an easy move for the youngster who misses her father, the only one with whom she had ever shared a strong connection. She grows up as the quintessential middle child, not sure of where she belonged or where she was going. After many awkward ups and downs, Domino finds a place where she fits in and even excels. It is not the life her mother would have chosen, but it is where she finds acceptance and love, and how director Tony Scott and much of the world see her.
Scott and screenwriter Richard Kelly begin with a look at Domino’s early years in England in order to capture the intense vulnerability of the girl at the core of the story. “Domino is tough on the surface, toting guns and kicking down doors,” says Scott, “but underneath, she is this vulnerable girl. She got lost along the way after her dad died, and even though there was a lack of connection to her mother, there is genuine emotion and a relationship of sorts that keeps Domino returning home time and again. You need to see that in order to understand the woman.”
Scott, who is the father of five-year-old twin boys, gets a kick out of working with kids, and especially enjoyed the scenes with Tabitha Brownstone, who portrays eight-year-old Domino. “Tabitha was spunky and feisty,” he says. “She felt like an extension of Keira. I love the challenge of being able to get a performance out of kids, to get the kids to be real. In Hollywood there is a danger that children are over-coached and a little too predictable.”
Precocious, to be sure, Brownstone captured Domino’s discomfort in her own skin. She was quite literally a fish out of water. A tomboy and misfit, her only remaining link to her father is a small goldfish which, like the girl herself, does not survive the boarding schools or other efforts made by her mother to encourage Domino to fit in among her peers and the proper social set.
International actress Jacqueline Bisset appears as Domino’s mother, Sophie Wynn [a pseudonym]. In the 1970s Bisset was acquainted with Domino’s real mother, an elegant, sophisticated woman who had lived an idyllic life with her handsome actor husband. They were among the beautiful and famous, appearing on the covers of magazines worldwide. Since that time, Domino’s mother has remarried and lives a quieter but no less elegant life style. In spite of their vast differences, mother and daughter stayed in touch and were closer in the last several years of Domino’s life, but unfortunately their schedules did not permit them much time together.
Even after Bisset spoke with Domino’s mother to make certain she was aware of the film and the fictional nature of the story, she was still protective of the character. “I felt tied to my loyalty to Domino’s mother,” says Bisset, “because the situations was a bit delicate. There’s always a sense of responsibility when a character starts from the position of a real person, especially when that person finds herself in an extraordinary circumstances. She is totally worried about the danger in which her daughter finds herself and she can’t imagine what the job entails. Your mind boggles at what can happen.”
“She wants her daughter to be happy,” continues Bisset. “Most mothers do. But she realizes from the very beginning that her daughter is rebellious. She’s grungy, she’s tough, she’s independent. And I ‘m sure Sophie’s youth was not saintly. Becoming a bounty hunter is about getting attention. It’s natural.”
“We depict Domino’s difficult relationship with her mother,” Knightley says. “She isn’t someone who fits in easily with her mother’s crowd. She’s also not someone who cares much about the superficial world of fashion and manicures and hair styling. Her life’s journey is about excitement and finding something that makes her feel alive. She doesn’t find that until she starts bounty hunting and meets a group of people who scare her and intrigue her all at the same time.”
“What makes her good at bounty hunting is her innate ability to remain calm and not flinch while a gun is pointed in her face,” Knightley continues to explain. “Instead of freaking out or becoming hysterical, she becomes eerily calm. She’s a bad ass.”
Once Scott began the casting process, he realized he needed a sound foundation from which his characters could grow and decided that the family aspect of the trio was the place to start. Meeting and researching real bounty hunters proved to be an unlikely but incredibly fruitful well of information for Richard Kelly’s rewrites.
“Most of these guys come from dysfunctional families,” reports Scott. “It’s similar to the Hell’s Angels. The only family connection they know is the one they forge with their self-selected, self-made group.”
“Domino, Ed and Choco were a dysfunctional family that worked,” he continues. “And it all came from Domino, who was searching for a father figure, and somehow Ed became that. They gravitated together because the family they created was the first real family any of them had ever known and addressing these family issues made all the characters much stronger.”
“I always find role models for my actors in real life, and then I try and find actors who are those characters,“ says Scott. “Mickey Rourke was Ed and Edgar Ramirez was Choco. Ed was from Los Angeles and Choco was from El Salvador, but they were like brothers.”
Scott, who has known Rourke socially since the director first emigrated to the United States more than 25 years ago, is confident that he cast the perfect man for the role. He remains one of Rourke’s biggest fans and believes in his talent with complete vigor.
“Mickey is a consummate actor,” asserts Scott. “If you look at the main body of his work, anyone can see that he is brilliant at his craft. I honestly believe I cast the right guy and the rest will take care of itself.”
“Ed would sit on one end of the sofa and in my mind I could see Mickey on the other,” the director continues. “They are so similar in personality and character. Mickey is the right age, he’s grown up on motorcycles and in a boxing ring; everything in his life experience just crossed the Ts and dotted the Is in terms of Ed’s character.“
Samuel Hadida was in complete agreement with Scott. “Mickey is one of my favorite actors.”
When Rourke heard that Tony Scott wanted him for another film, he agreed without hesitation. “I love Tony Scott,” he says. “He’s a cut above most directors in Hollywood. He’s an actor’s director; he can bring you right to the edge. And I like the movies he makes.”
“The script didn’t really come alive for me until Tony, Keira, Edgar and I started working together,” explains Rourke of his process. “We sat in a room and discussed how we saw the characters beyond the obvious facts that Domino is a girl from London who decides to be a bounty hunter, and Choco is a hot-tempered Latin, and Ed is a godfather character.”
Rourke worked tirelessly with Scott throughout the entire production, constantly refining and polishing his character. He wanted to know the details of Ed’s back-story so that he could understand why this man was driven to take on the central role in this ragtag family.
“I remember years ago when I was a kid there was a bounty hunter movie or television show starring Steve McQueen,” Rourke recounts. “He was somebody who sometimes operated just outside the law, quite a romantic figure. But when you meet the real thing, you find that bounty hunters are quite the contrary. I tried to give Ed some of the reality and some of that romantic quality with an edge.”
The filmmakers found Edgar Ramirez, who portrays Choco, on a lark. He flew into Los Angeles in September of 2004 for a quick meeting with his U.S. representatives before introducing a screening of his film, Punto Y Raya, to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Only in town for four days, casting director Denise Chamian suggested that Scott and Hadida meet the young Venezuelan actor.
“We watched part of Punto Y Raya, a contender for Oscar consideration for Best Foreign Language Film,” says Hadida. “After two minutes we stopped and decided to meet Edgar in person because the character he was playing was so different from what we needed, but Tony could already see something. The minute Tony met him I think he knew Edgar had very big potential, and his screen test confirmed it. Tony knows how to find stars when they’re just starting out. Look at all the people he’s cast, from Tom Cruise in Top Gun to Patricia Arquette, Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini in True Romance. He has an eye for talent.”
“It’s called luck,” says Scott modestly. “I was able to get a psychotic quality from Edgar. Plus, Edgar is beautiful, a little bit like Jim Morrison or Val Kilmer, and he’s smart. I was lucky to find him because we were down to the wire.”
Ramirez is the one who considers himself lucky to work with Scott and his talented costars. Friendly and affable, Ramirez was a favorite of both cast and crew, a polar opposite to the character he portrays on screen.
“Choco is by far one of the most interesting characters I’ve ever played,” says Ramirez. “He is a force of nature, full of contradictions. He can be a very violent man, and at the same time tender and kind. Contradictions are what make us human and what make a character three-dimensional. Those three-dimensional characters are the ones who reach through to the audience and touch your heart.”
Ramirez’s mother traveled from Venezuela to spend as much time as possible visiting her son during production. Even though she spoke little English, she was a constant presence on set, and like her son, became beloved by all. The Ramirez family bond was clearly a stark contrast to Choco’s personal history.
“Choco is an abused person and that’s why he abuses life and thinks it owes him something,” continues the actor. “He grew up moving from one reformatory to the next all his life. He belongs to a part of society that will never fit. It was very interesting for me to try and get into that skin.”
“The real Choco used to come into my office and sit and talk to me for hours,” says Tony Scott. “But he always spoke in Spanish despite the fact that he knew English.”
Ramirez believes Choco uses language as a defense mechanism. “He uses Spanish to isolate himself from the rest of the world,” he explains. “And especially with Domino he uses the language as a kind of dam to restrain the apocalyptic situations that could happen if he shows or unleashes his feelings for her. It’s a physical manifestation of his conflict regarding Domino. But in the end, there is no way to hold back his feelings.”
The bounty hunters work for Claremont Williams III, played by Delroy Lindo. Williams’ character is based loosely on Domino’s longtime employer, bail bondsman Celes King III. Williams is part of two worlds, he is the commander of his bounty hunters as well as thinking he is the ruling figure at home amongst his family.
Claremont balances the two families; he uses the bounty hunters to arrest the crooks, which is how he collects his 10 percent, and he utilizes information courtesy of his girlfriend and her pals at the DMV to help the bounty hunters find the bad guys. He has a finger in every pie and when that’s not enough, he cons them both to get what he wants.
“Claremont is the puppeteer,” screenwriter Richard Kelly says succinctly.
Tony Scott selected Lindo for the role because of his charm and good looks, not to mention his debonair style. “Delroy is smart and he’s got a great sense of humor,” says Scott. “And he looks like a ladies’ man. I needed all those qualities. As an actor, his integrity and commitment knows no bounds. He really wants to know everything he can about the person he is playing, and Celes King was a very smart man who saw opportunities and took advantage of them whenever he could. Some would say he was an opportunist, and Delroy portrays him so smoothly, you barely see what’s happening.”
“When I thought of a bail bondsman, I thought of someone seedy,” says Lindo. “And when I talked to one myself, while he did acknowledge that people do indeed have that perception, he told me that he saw himself as a go between and a representative of people who are in trouble. His philosophy is innocent until proven guilty. That assessment helped me in terms of my approach to the psychological bent of the character.”
“Claremont is based on an extremely savvy gentleman who Tony likes to call a ‘serial opportunist,’ but for me, I tried to focus on the health problem of Claremont’s grandbaby, which is what I use as motivation for why he does what he does in the film. I also try not to lose sight of the fact that this film obviously has a lot of comic elements.”
When business becomes brisk, Claremont recruits a driver for his bounty hunting musketeers and Alf quickly becomes their fourth member. Played by Rizwan Abbasi, Alf has one foot inside the circle of bounty hunters, and the other firmly planted in his native Afghanistan. He is a rabid patriot who marches to the beat of a mysterious drummer. Determined to liberate his countrymen from their bonds of tyranny and oppression, he can think of little else.
Casting Alf was a complicated process. Of course Scott wanted someone who fit the role physically as well as dramatically, but he was not finding the right person even after scouring the talent pools of Los Angeles and New York. Producer Samuel Hadida suggested they turn to casting director Lucinda Syson (Snatch), who had worked with Scott on Spy Game, for assistance.
“She found Riz in London,” says Hadida. “He’s from Glasgow, Scotland, born and raised, but his genetic ancestry is Pakistani and Indian.”
Because Abbasi was the last main cast member to be hired, he came onboard the production rather late in the game. Scott did his best to shoot around the Alf character by using different members of his crew who seemed the right size to act as photo doubles.
“It was nerve wracking,” Hadida recalls. “We had to wait for him to get a visa, so every day we would be asking, ‘Is Riz coming tomorrow? No. OK, reschedule.’ The next day it would be the same thing. But he was ideal for the part, so we waited as long as we could to shoot certain segments.”
“Riz has this ingenuous quality that was perfect for Alf,” the producer continues. “He’s not only a driver, he has to bond with the bounty hunters and integrate himself into the group even if he’s unusual and working for his own cause. But that’s why we love him.”
“Alf is part of the Mujhadeen,” explains Abbasi. “Somehow he escaped prison in Afghanistan and snuck into America. His objective in life is to make as much money as he can; it’s the American dream, but he wants to send the cash to free his people. He uses his gifts – his technical driving skill and his expertise with explosives – to make that happen. But by the end of the movie he is also concerned about his three new friends because he’s become a part of their family. He goes along for the ride when they head for Las Vegas and even indulges in some questionable behavior, but he never loses focus of his intentions.”
“Alf is wild,” says Scott. “He’s a brilliant character. You get the sense that he’s got another agenda, so you’re always wondering what he’s up to. And because he’s the driver of the bounty hunter van, he wields a lot of power.”
Scott feels the story “lies in two halves.” It begins with Domino’s life up to and including her decision to become a bounty hunter, and evolves into the realm of reality television. Through the grapevine Scott heard that several networks had picked up on this idea and created their own reality shows depicting bounty hunters at work around the country, but none of them were crazy enough to use Kelly’s original idea of utilizing two real life actors riding shotgun, so to speak, as the show’s hosts.
Irrespective of the strong subject matter, Scott wanted his film to include comedic elements. He loved Kelly’s concept of using actors from the long-running TV show “Beverly Hills 90210” to play themselves, along with an over-the-top television producer and his assistant, plus some bungling crooks peppered with a few shady Mafia types to round out the plot.
“In interviewing the real Domino she told me about going to summer school at Beverly Hills High,” says Kelly, “and that’s where the gestation of the “Beverly Hills 90210” element of the script came from. “90210” had a huge impact on culture from people of my generation and I am only a little younger than Domino. It was a lightning rod for the way teenagers were supposed to behave in the After School Special meets Rodeo Drive soap opera quality of that show. I was amused that Domino’s mother would be transfixed by that program and thought it would be interesting for the character to push her daughter into the mold of Tori Spelling or Jennie Garth or any of those characters.
“I also thought about how ‘90210’ was a symbol for a generation, and with the show’s cancellation, the dream was over. So I thought, let’s introduce an element of the show in terms of ideas and experience where Domino is concerned, and also bring in the metaphorical idea of reality television using Ian Ziering and Brian Austin Green. It felt like they had a best friend chemistry on the show, they were a great comedic duo, so putting them into the movie felt right.”
Kelly was amazed at the reaction Ziering and Green elicited while on location in Las Vegas. Women of all ages, but specifically those in their 30s, would approach the two no matter the time of day or circumstance and invariably their questions and comments would relate to “90210.”
“Every single day these guys would have someone come up to them and talk about ‘90210,’” remembers Kelly. “The show has been syndicated around the world and it’s still playing today. It was a touchstone for the 90s and Ian and Brian have to deal with that their entire lives. I thought that was funny but I also wanted them to be able to exercise those ‘90210’ demons.”
Ian Ziering and Brian Austin Green decided to take the gamble and play “themselves” as the hosts of the reality series, “Bounty Squad.” Reality takes on a surreal bent and before long the television icons find they’ve become battered hostages in a high stakes game of cat and mouse.
When Ziering first read the script, he thought it was a joke and called his agent to find out what was what. “I asked, ‘What’s going on here? I’m in this?’ and he told me to check out the writer. When I realized it was the guy from Donnie Darko, I asked who was directing and my agent said, ‘Tony Scott.’ Come on, I am written into a Tony Scott picture? As it turns out, it was all part of the master plan,” laughs Ziering.
“I was very flattered,” he continues. “It’s nice to finally play a character that’s my age. That’s kind of new for me. But the fact that this character is the same age, looks like me, and has the same name are where the similarities end. Domino’s Ian is more edgy, a little more crass and a lot more obnoxious. He’s written as stereotypical of what you think a Hollywood celebrity might be like, so the interesting thing for me was to find a balance between what I wanted to present the audience and what they expect. I’m hoping there’s a huge gap because for me part of the excitement of doing this is to surprise people.”
Brian Austin Green agrees with his costar. “It’s weird playing myself,” he says, “but it’s fun. The challenge is to play myself without really playing myself. That in itself gave me something to work with. Plus the material was so outrageous – my nose is broken through half the film and I get my ass kicked left and right – so it’s not really me. The way it was written was helpful because if I were playing it straight, as me, it would be rather boring.”
Keira Knightley admires the “90201” actors for taking a leap of faith and agreeing to be involved with the project. “I think Brian and I had the most difficult roles in the picture,” she says with obvious sincerity. “Playing yourself is no easy feat, especially when it really isn’t you, but an exaggerated version of who someone else believes you to be. It takes real talent to be able to pull it off. I don’t think I could do that. They amazed me every day.”
“Ian and Brian are charming and funny because they don’t take themselves too seriously,” Scott says. “They knew from the first read of the script how their characters were being represented and they loved it. People who grew up in the ‘90210’ generation will get a huge buzz out of it.”
Even the Hadidas were aware of Ziering and Green’s popularity, as the series was hugely successful in France and around the world. “Both ‘90210’ and ‘Baywatch’ had a huge impact on the European market,” says Hadida. “We’re giving a new generation the opportunity to know these two actors; the film gives them a fresh, hip appeal.”
Domino is Christopher Walken’s third film for Tony Scott. He portrays Mark Heiss, a high-strung, television executive. Mena Suvari plays his faithful assistant Kimmie.
“Chris is fantastic,” says Scott. “He could read the phonebook and engage you. I don’t know what it is about this guy, people always think it’s improvisation, but I believe he does a lot of homework very quietly. He’ll ask how I see the character, then goes away and comes back and does his own thing. I get such pleasure out of watching him perform, watching his character come to life.”
When Walken was on set, Scott was always laughing. “Mark Heiss is manic,” the director continues. “He is a ferret on crystal meth. Chris capitalized off that description. Kimmie has been sucked into the world of this ferret and is now part of the syndrome, so she acts like she’s on crystal meth, too. It’s the classic Hollywood boss/kiss-ass sycophantic assistant bond, and the combination of these two actors makes it funny because you don’t expect to see them in those roles. They compliment each other brilliantly and Mena is a terrific springboard for Chris. Take after take, she would set him up and he would take off in different directions.”
The filmmakers admit that putting together a shooting schedule that worked for all their big name actors was not an easy task, but the satisfaction in seeing the final product makes up for any difficulties.
“It’s a great cast, very varied and fun, strange and dark, a rock n’ roll cast,” says Scott. “They are inherently funny and that makes it easy for me to know what I’m looking for when it comes to casting. Whenever I get into difficulty with actors, I know to suggest that they spend some time with the real people they are portraying.”
Early in the production process the filmmakers created a flow chart so that they could keep straight the many characters and their interwoven relationships.
“We made a family tree,” explains Scott. “We put it on the front cover of the script for a while so the story would be easier to follow because it became such a complex piece. It helped everyone to identify who was connected to whom and which one knew what about the other. The story is a dense smorgasbord of odd personalities from different walks of life.”
Lateesha Rodriguez is played by comedienne Mo’Nique; Macy Gray and Shondrella Avery portray Lateesha’s twin cousins, Lashandra and Lashindra, respectively; while Joseph Nuñez is Raul Chavez. The four characters also take on different personas when they disguise themselves as the First Ladies Club.
When Scott and Hadida were trying to find the right actress for the pivotal role of Lateesha, they looked for a strong woman with great acting chops as well as excellent comedic timing. Scott invited Hadida to lunch with Mo’Nique (WB’s “The Parkers”), and Hadida was immediately smitten.
The three met for lunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel. “Mo’Nique cracked me up,” declares Hadida. “She had every waiter laughing and everyone working at the restaurant was coming up to her. She owned the room, and anyone who could command a room like that could easily handle the DMV and set up a sting operation. I said, ‘OK, she’s Lateesha!’”
“You don’t expect that this one woman at the DMV manages to control all these lives through her ability to manufacture fake driver’s licenses and fake IDs. It’s an ingenious plot twist.”
“Lateesha is the center of the story because the story progresses based on what she does,” says Mo’Nique. “All of the twists and turns, the ups and downs happen because of her actions. Once she explains what she’s done and why, all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.”
“I know Lateehsa,” the actress declares. “Everyone knows Lateesha with the nails and the makeup, the cleavage, the attitude. I like her. Power, baby, that’s what I love about her. Many of the people that work at the DMV have an arrogance about them, so the rest of us have to be extremely nice. Lateesha pretty much runs the DMV. She knows it inside and out and talks to her supervisor any way she wants because she is the real boss. But she’s also a hustler with a side job. Not that she wants a better life for herself; she just wants money to save her grandbaby. That’s what makes Lateesha Rodriguez so special.”
Joe Nunez, who plays Raul, “was a tough one to find,” says Tony Scott. “He plays this gay, Hispanic guy who works as a DMV agent, and it’s a tough role because it’s easy to play it too broad and the character becomes a caricature. Joe comes out of Chicago theatre; he has some of the best training and experience. We dyed his hair and dressed him outlandishly. He’s just another flamboyant color of emotion and humor amongst Claremont and Lateesha’s extended family.”
Lucy Liu is FBI psychologist Taryn Mills. The busy actress spent an intense two days on set playing opposite Keira Knightley in a crucial sequence that builds the framework which supports the complex storyline.
“Since we are telling Domino’s story as if it’s a fever dream,” says Kelly, “I thought it would be best to do it Rashomon-style where she’s being interrogated by this agent and in doing so we unfold not only Domino’s current predicament but also her entire life and how she got to this point. It’s kind of like a confession and offers a peek into Domino’s mind and how she sees America.”
“If you don’t believe the scenes where Domino is telling her story to Taryn,” says Samuel Hadida, “then you won’t believe the movie. That’s all there is to it.”
“I liked the idea of having a Chinese psychologist working for the FBI,” says Scott. “The Chinese are stereotypically thought of as being smart and meticulous which was perfect for the role. Lucy gives the impression of being very precise, as though she pays close attention to detail. Sure enough, when I started talking to her, she wanted to concentrate on the pencils on the desk, the pencil sharpener, the length of her skirt and how I saw the character,” he says with a laugh. “She is very focused and very cute.”
When it came time to cast Stratosphere owner, Drake Bishop, and big time mobster Cigliutti, Scott turned to veteran actor Dabney Coleman and a “Sopranos’” alumnus, Stanley Kamel. Once more Scott was hesitant to rely on stereotypes, so he immediately headed for Las Vegas to meet the real people.
“It was a struggle,” describes Scott, “because again, I did not want caricatures. So I waited until I took a trip to Vegas to meet the real guys, and there they were. The one gentleman was very old school, very polite and impeccably dressed. He was Dabney. And the younger, less refined, very Italian guy who had more of a ‘street’ element, he was Stanley.
“I’ve been a fan of Dabney’s for a long time,” the director says. “And now I’m also a huge fan of Stanley’s. Their performances are very real.”
At the other end of the criminal spectrum is Locus Fender and his mother Edna, played by Lew Temple and Dale Dickey. Oddball criminals to be sure, but their performances were no less intense or valuable to the overall story.
During a key scene at the end of the second act, the audience is suddenly introduced to yet another character, ‘The Wanderer,’ played by singer/songwriter Tom Waits. He appears in the desert seemingly out of nowhere, similar to the role of the chorus in a Greek tragedy.
“The Wanderer explains a lot,” says Scott. “Basically, he gives a summation of what’s happened up to that point in the story. He also seems to have a psychic connection with Domino but no one knows if he is real or simply a figment of the imagination.”
Scott and Waits discussed the origin of the character and decided he would be a gun toting, Seventh Day Adventist sporting a bandaged hand. He also foreshadows what is about to come.
Despite the film being a fantasy, Scott is insistent on looking at his subject matter through real glasses – no rose-colored tinting for this director. To that end, the filmmakers hired Israeli-American Zeke Unger, a fugitive recovery agent for over 20 years who owns and operates Little Zeke’s Bail Bonds, as the film’s technical advisor. Unger was not only involved in the shooting of the film, but also offered his expertise and experience to screenwriter Richard Kelly as well as to the actors, putting Keira Knightley, Edgar Ramirez and Mickey Rourke through a brief training program. He and his team were available at a moment’s notice to assist the production in any capacity required.
Having had only four days off between wrapping Pride & Prejudice and coming aboard Domino, Keira Knightley still found the energy to jump headlong into rehearsals, literally. She and Ramirez started off with a two-day boot camp with Unger and his crew, during which they learned the ins and outs of bail bonds, laws, gray areas, self defense, basic handling of fire arms, marksmanship, tactical training, etc. Rourke spent more concentrated one-on-one time with Unger in private sessions. Prior to this, Knightley had never before heard the term “bounty hunter”, other than a passing mention in Star Wars.
“I took advantage of all the training I could,” says Edgar Ramirez. “Insurance-wise we couldn’t go out with the guys and do the real stuff or even observe them in action because it would have put us in too much jeopardy, but we simulated a lot of their experiences. I also interviewed Zeke and asked as many questions as possible, especially about the moral dilemma of bounty hunting. I wanted to know the why about everything.”
“Bounty hunting started in England in the 1400s,” says Unger. “By the time it made it to the Wild West, criminals found the profession. It was more lucrative to chase people than to rob banks. From its inception, it’s where outlaws, fugitives and cops meet.”
“Finding people who don’t want to be found is an art,” Unger continues. “The harder they hide, the more you want to find them. You never know what you’re going to come up against. You’re always traveling to different locations around the country and the world, and each fugitive is different in terms of the way they live and travel, so you have to think like the people you are chasing. Coming from a colorful, checkered past, knowing the streets and the elements and how the fugitive mind works makes for a better bounty hunter; it’s what makes you successful in the game.”
According to Unger, in 1999 California, along with several other states, began regulating and certifying recovery agents. He asserts that bounty hunters the likes of Domino, Ed Martinez and the real Choco were thought of as the renegade element in the business, similar to many agents of their day. Today’s current regulations are an attempt by government agencies to bring unity and a standard of shared business practices amongst agents and law enforcement.
Unger’s agents work extensively with the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Division (which was how Tony Scott first located Unger). Most have trained in special ops and have worked undercover prior to joining his team. Nonetheless, Unger is quick to remind them and the actors he trained, “You never want to be complacent because as soon as you let your guard down, you’re dead.”
Surprisingly, Knightley did not care for shooting a gun. “I normally like things like that,” she says, “and I expected to get a kick out of it, holding that power in your hands, but I didn’t really like it very much. I think the idea of what a gun can do really freaked me out. I think I will leave it to the experts.”
Nonetheless, Knightley did enjoy the heart pounding excitement of learning how to enter a building, how to search for a suspect in the safest way possible and how to function as part of a team in such a drill. “It was odd because none of the guns we practiced with were loaded,” she says, “but as we were doing this extreme hide & seek and pretending, even though our adversary was someone we’d been working with all day, my heart was going the entire time and I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is scary.’”
During her final days shooting Pride and Prejudice in England, Knightley was able to squeeze in a few lessons with martial artist Ed Chow, who taught her some basic skills in the ancient art of nun chucks (or nunchaku), an ancient kobudo weapon that consists of two sticks connected at their ends with a short chain or rope. After coming to the States and working with Unger, Knightley continued her training with stuntman and martial arts expert Jeff Amada to become more proficient in nun chuck fighting. He also schooled her in knife handling and throwing techniques.
“This movie is about heightened reality,” says Scott, who was invited to tag along with Zeke and some of his crew on a bounty hunt in the tough Los Angeles neighborhood of Compton late one Friday night.
“We rode in three SUVs,” describes the director. “There I am with my little DVD camera, naively thinking, ‘Hey, this is going to be pretty cool.’ All of a sudden I see the guys putting on flack vests and pulling out what looked like AK-47s. Then someone says, ‘OK, we’re going in. Light it up.’ I thought that was some reference to flashlights when, in fact, it means get in there as fast as you can and surprise your subject. They’re striding down alleyways, running in all directions. There was screaming and yelling, and dogs and kids running everywhere, and I’m hoping they’re just putting on a show for me, but they weren’t. It was wild. This happened to be one of the worst possible nights in one of the toughest districts of L.A. People get killed. Going after and trying to apprehend criminals, many of them dangerous felons, is not for the weak at heart.”
“But it helped me to tap into what makes these guys tick,” he says. “And I can translate that to my actors. For instance one of the guys had IBS (Irritable Bowl Syndrome) and it became a trait we gave to Mickey’s character because these guys get so nervous and so wound up, it affects them physically. Those little details are the things you can never come up with on your own unless you touch the real world in which the characters exist. The real world is always far more imaginative than anything we could conjure up.”
Scott also used actual gang members in his cast. With the help of long time collaborator Gusmano Cesaretti, he was able to meet and build a rapport with two bona fide street gangs from East L.A., one Latino and one Vietnamese. He created specific scenes to underscore the tenor and mood of infiltrating and going up against such a force. “The same way I touched the real world in terms of the bounty hunters, Domino, her mother and the like, I had to find realism in the gang world,” Scott explains. “I didn’t just use a bunch of great faces and extras on camera, I gave the real guys roles. It’s a tough existence and you can never substitute what you find in real faces for what you’re trying to cast. There is a brilliant energy from the experience of their everyday life – you see it in their eyes.”
When Knightley walked onto set her first day of filming with one of the gangs, she immediately sensed a difference. With only the smallest hint of dread, she whispered to Scott, “Are these guys real?” A rhetorical question to be sure; before Scott could explain, she smiled and exclaimed, “Yeah, cool.”
The director and his prop department took great care in collecting the guns, whether real or replicas, used in every sequence immediately following each completed take. It’s easy to get over-amped in the heat of a small room, filled with cameras, believable actors and a charged story. “It was hysterical,” says Scott. “Some of the scenes were incredibly intense, so we made sure someone accounted for every gun, every take.”
“Those guys had the most amazing tattoos I have ever seen,” Knightley says. “They really got into the scene, which made it really edgy and raw. We had the basic idea of what everyone was supposed to say, but we did a lot of improvisation so the dialogue was all over the place, which isn’t do easy for me. I thought, “God, how do I do this?’ but that was the spirit of the film, so I just went with the flow. Walking into a kitchen in a rundown house in East L.A. with all these guys pointing shotguns and semi-automatics in your face, it wasn’t hard to imagine a sense of danger. The room was so small and oppressive and after a while it stank, so there was no getting away from the tension locked inside that room. It was a great way to start the film because it was the right vibe and set the tone for the piece and for me.”
“I think Keira enjoyed touching every aspect of L.A.,” says Scott, “and even though she has spent some time in the city, she has never experienced the likes of East L.A, the locations, the characters, the daily grind. It was a great educational, roller coaster ride.”
In this way, Knightley acts as the eyes and ears of the audience as she takes them through the movie, touching this dark world for the first time. As the experience unfolds before her, so it unfolds before the audience. Domino’s first bounty hunt was shot during Keira’s first week on set. Putting her in that mêlée was a stroke of accidental genius for the filmmakers.
When asked if the film glamorizes bounty hunting and could lead to undue amateurs taking the law into their own hands, Scott is not worried. He believes audiences are wise to the inherent danger involved and will pick up on the farcical nature of the comedy in the film. He is also confident that law enforcement officials will embrace the movie “because we’ve done our research,” he says. “During my ride along with Zeke, we ended up at the Compton police station. Zeke knows all the guys there, and he follows the rules and regulations to the letter of the law. They’ll see that. And when it comes to disseminating fact from fiction, I think everyone can determine the difference.”
Violence on screen has become a hot button for critics and audiences alike. Notwithstanding a trend toward political correctness, Scott will not be dissuaded from using violence when appropriate. “My movies are on the edge where violence is concerned,” he explains. “Sometimes the violence is done using a smile as it’s part of a comedic moment and sometimes the action is a character of its own. In Man on Fire, the protagonist was seeking revenge, and the violence almost became an element of rock ’n’ roll that propelled the character. In Domino, the violence is like an abstract painting. In test screenings, the audience didn’t wince and they didn’t avert their eyes. They seemed to understand what was funny and what wasn’t.”
Whether comedic or sobering, the stunt work involved in an action film is always serious, especially when the actors are performing many of their own gags. As is always the case, safety is paramount to stunt coordinator Chuck Picerni (Enemy of the State), who is always available to coach talent and allow them to participate whenever possible, but who is inflexible when the sequence is seriously dangerous and calls for true skill.
Knightley is proud to show off the small scars she earned while on the run with her team. “There’s a scene where we’re in a stand off in this gang banger house and we ended up getting shot many, many times, so we all got hit with squibs over and over,” she says. “It’s a strange sensation; it’s like little electric shocks that make you jump. I couldn’t get my arm down in time to miss a big one so I got burned as did Edgar, and Mickey got one in the face. We joked how Tony was trying to kill us. There wasn’t a day when we didn’t get some kind of scratch or scrape or bruise, and my knees are really done in. Actually I am rather proud of my bruises. It’s all in a day’s work on his set,” she explains.
“I can safely say that I am never going to have nice hands or nails again, but it was great fun and very liberating in a weird way,” Knightley continues. “There were points in the day when everything was sore and I just didn’t want to do it anymore, I was tired and I didn’t want to deal with the cuts and bruises. But then you look at the footage and see how cool it is and you realize the worth of being pummeled,” she laughs.
The harrowing end sequence required Knightley to handle two machine guns at the same time, a stunt she found more difficult than any other. “I have to say, I was scared,” she recalls. “There were blanks in all the guns, but it still freaked me out, so much so that at one point when Tony yelled, ‘Action!’ I couldn’t make myself stand up. I’d done one trial run and the sound of it, the power and the strength needed to hold two heavy, big machine guns was just too much. My legs failed to lift me up. Tony could see I was really scared, which was very un-Domino, but he told me, ‘Never mind, just scream, get up there and scream, let it all out.’ That helped a lot because I managed to let go of all the fear with that one scream; everything came out and it was the right vibe for the scene. That’s when I got burned from one of the shells, but I didn’t even know it until later because I was so into the action.”
“Right after that we get into the lift and Alf explodes,” she says, shaking her head. “I’m dragging Riz with cuts all over my knees, Edgar split his head, took a chunk out of his nose, and had two stitches in his arm. It goes on and on. So even though Tony didn’t manage to kill us, he had a bloody good go,” she jokes.
“At a certain point I was getting spiritual and mystical about it. I was thinking, ‘Why me?’” jokes Edgar Ramirez. “I know my character is the most physical of the three, but almost all my bruises and wounds happened the day before Thanksgiving. You name it, it happened: I hit my head, I cut my nose, I burned my arm, I bruised my knee, I cut my fingers, everything. Each take, I injured myself.
“I think my stunt double was a little upset that I didn’t let him work that much, but I enjoy physical parts,” he says. “I got to do all the fun stuff like shooting and fighting, jumping from roof tops, crushing and destroying cars, throwing televisions and kissing the girl, so I can’t complain.”
Knightley not only learned to handle a cadre of weapons, her performance also included such firsts as electric bull riding, lap dancing and strutting down a catwalk. She also enjoyed working on the gimbal during the Winnebago flip.
“We only did a 180-degree turn,” Knightley explains. “The stunt people did the 360’s. It looked worse than it was so before we got in, I was worried, but it was just like a ride. Edgar and I love roller coasters, so we kept begging to go 360 degrees, but the effects guys wouldn’t do it.”
Ironic though it may seem, Rourke asserts that he is not a big fan of action movies. “I am not crazy about them,” he admits, although he says he was attracted to the action genre when he was a young boy. “This movie was all about working with Tony. He lets me think that what we do is my idea and he tailors it to me. There’s well thought out logic in everything he does.”
But despite his feelings about action, Rourke participated in every stunt sequence with ardor. His commitment to the role is just part of the process for the actor. “People always ask, ‘How do you prepare for being a bounty hunter?’ But bounty hunting is like a million other jobs,” says Rourke. “Ed could be a cop or an athlete, it’s all the same.”
Scott calls Domino a fusion of comedy, drama and action, but he cautions those who would try to fabricate a new genre under which to list it. “We didn’t create a new box,” he warns. “Everything has been done before and I steal from everybody. I steal from the best. But I do think we’ve been able to create a different niche for this particular kind of movie.”
“We weren’t willing to tone it down or take off the edges in terms of the characters, because that’s what excites me. I like trying new things, the further out there, the more abstract, the better.”
Domino began filming on October 4th, 2004 in and around the Los Angeles area. Locations used include the Hollywood Presbyterian Church, the Santa Monica Department of Motor Vehicles and The Ambassador, The Alexandria and The Wilshire Grand hotels, as well as private residences in Bel Air, East L.A., Altadena and Lancaster, among others. In early December cast and crew traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada. The company shot pivotal action sequences deep within Nevada’s desert in The Valley of Fire and at Bonnie Springs Ranch and Motel, about 40 miles outside the city. Hoover Dam in Boulder City and the streets of Needles were also used as backdrops. The Vegas shoot culminated with a final week of production at the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino.
The movie was filmed in 62 days, an unprecedented feat for Scott, especially because of the many large set pieces and intricate action sequences he was driven to complete in record time. “The story has momentum and therefore the production had momentum,” he says. “We slowed down the pace in post a bit, but even then I wanted to keep it going. Most movies take forever to hone and detail and tweak that you have to give up something and just keep going, but this film took on a pace and life of its own.”
Scott and Samuel Hadida credit executive producer Barry Waldman with setting forth a production strategy that allowed room for creative modifications and adjustments within a tightly constrained budget and time frame. Although this was Waldman’s first time working with the director and producer, it will not be his last. “Barry was able to assess and organize the logistics of our ever-changing carnival so that it ran like a clock,” praises Hadida. “Like Tony, he doesn’t stop for anything. The two of them are incredible workers.”
The production started off fast and furious. The filmmakers are adamant that despite the pace, they cut no corners and lost nothing in the process; whatever they had to do to complete each scene within their self-imposed time frame was a gain, not a loss. Scott even put off a long overdue back surgery and hip replacement until just after wrap. Of course he was up and around and back in the cutting room weeks before his surgeons expected. The director loves a challenge.
Not only will he rise to meet any challenge, he frequently invents them for himself, including scouting locations. Scott is known to pick some of the most claustrophobic and physically unmaneuverable sites, so demanding and remote that his crew joke about hiring sherpas. He credits his long-time locations manager Janice Polley (who is known for working with some of the most demanding directors, including Michael Mann, Ridley Scott, John Woo and Richard Donner) with unearthing the best and most obscure sites that appear in his films and commercials.
“When we first talked about the look of the film, Tony mentioned areas we shot Man on Fire in Mexico,” says production designer Chris Seagers. “It instantly gave all of us a shorthand and we knew where he wanted to go. Janice found places in East L.A. that have never been filmed in before, places where there is cockfighting, dogs running and cars in the street, where you stand on a hillside and look down at houses and think you’re in Mexico.
“We didn’t want to build anything if we didn’t have to,” Seagers continues. “We attempted to use only practical locations wherever possible, and then enhance them by adding a layer of set dressing or removing whatever didn’t belong. For Tony it’s all about realism.”
In terms of selecting locations, Scott says, “I look for what’s right for the scene. I want to feel it, so in a small room if I could move the walls, the cameras would naturally ease back and we’d lose that claustrophobia. But when you’re contained and have to stay inside a small space, it retains the feeling of that environment and keeps the pressure on the performance.
Scott and his director of photography Dan Mindel, who has worked with Scott for over 25 years on the movies Enemy of the State and Spy Game, as well as on countless commercials and industrial films, are used to tight locations.
“We strive to maintain the integrity of each location,” says Mindel. “The challenge is to allow enough space for multiple cameras. We’ve used mirrors and reflected images to allow for longer lenses and keep cameras out of frame. And on occasion we have been known to remove walls, windows, doors, roofs to make it work. But we always put the building back the way we found it,” he laughs.
“When I look to the center of any given scene, I imagine how the visuals will enhance the tone we’re attempting to create,” Scott says. “How can I help the scene? The actors? There are 100 different ways to shoot something, so I try to find a place that embodies the idea of each scene.
“For example, in the scene where the bounty hunters’ coffee has been spiked with mescaline, I tried to capitalize on what the characters were experiencing by placing them in an amazing location,” the director continues. “The Valley of Fire in Nevada is like being on Mars. There are always accidents that happen with light, with your background, with the people you encounter. Practical locations give you an injection of life that you can never anticipate. It’s tough to get inspired on a stage. It’s the same experience I have when I do my research and homework with real people in creating story points – you can never anticipate what goes on in their lives or how they look at or adapt to a situation – that’s what makes the process invigorating. I walk into live locations and just get ideas; it gives the look a lot more edge.”
The newest member of the Scott film family is production designer Chris Seagers, who worked on the director’s last two films, Spy Game and Man on Fire. A fellow Brit, Scott feels the two have a more objective view of all that is Americana, having lived across the pond instead of in the midst of life in Los Angeles.
Scott describes the film’s color palette as “all over the place.” Rather than looking at specific colors, Scott, Seagers and Mindel were more concerned with resolution, contrast and intensity in terms of the visuals. Some of the film was even shot in black & white.
“It’s gritty, heightened reality,” explains Scott. “Heightened reality is brighter colors, darker blacks, whiter whites. The palette varies according to the emotion of the individual scene. It’s more like a f--ked up painting.”
“We always start from a reality base,” agrees Seagers, “and we hook into something. I watched some videotapes of the real Domino talking about her life that were very helpful. It was only a few brief hours at her house, but it ended up in the back room of her house with her computers and videos, her digital cameras and a radio scanner and all the files she kept from various jobs with all the documentation. Those little things are great because it gives you a feel for her environment.”
“Because we were using so many different film stocks and filming techniques and processing, we had to be careful with colors and textures against costumes,” notes Seagers. “We also had to take lighting into consideration. Many times none of us knew how the scene was going to look once the film was shot. In terms of tone, we tried not to play dark colors against other dark colors, or black against black. Although it might not be black to the eye, once the film is developed, even a dark cloud would go black. We were very mindful of using contrasting colors and graphics, which Tony loves, and attention to detail because you never know where he will put a camera.”
The film was shot in both 35mm and on high definition video cameras, continuing the textured look of what Scott achieved for Man on Fire. Scott wanted to experiment with different materials and felt that Mindel’s easy-going, open approach would afford him the greatest options.
“Danny will always jump off the edge with me,” says Scott. “I knew I was going to do more experimental stuff than I normally do, and he likes being challenged with those experiments. He’s a great technician and he has a great eye.”
Scott starts his creative process by creating albums of tear sheets from magazines, newspapers, books and photographs, gathering his visuals from everywhere imaginable, to build a reference library for his crew. “He pulls pages from Vogue magazine to books from the Museum of Modern Art,” clarifies Mindel. “Basically it’s all about light and texture; contrast is a huge proponent in what Tony does. Top lighting was a particular challenge because the light falls off when you stick a light source on top of someone’s head -- you can’t see their eyes. When a scene is dark and moody, the audience wants to see the actors’ eyes for obvious reasons, so that’s a huge issue photographically speaking. Tony will show everyone photographs of what he’s trying to achieve. It’s a much quicker way of transmitting the information to the lighting, grip and camera departments.”
The look of the film is a culmination of years of experimentation by Scott, years of trial and error on films and commercials. Mindel credits Scott’s stellar reputation within the entertainment industry for the latitude they were given during production. “Tony is trusted by everybody,” he says. “They trust that he is going to deliver, which is why people want to work with him again and again.
“Although the script comes from a decade of rewrites and manipulation, it’s contemporary,” continues Mindel. “It’s written with a 21st century mindset so to enhance the script we use frenetic animated camera movement, different film stocks, unusual processing and other techniques and incorporate that into story telling for the contemporary audience.”
“I love my camera to be moving,” says Scott. “But that’s part and parcel to the energy of this movie.”
“Tony has refined his cameras movement and the use of hand crank cameras to shoot multiple exposures and to give a certain kinetic feel,” says Mindel. “It’s a distinctive look that comes from varying exposures due to the inaccuracy of the camera speed.”
Many scenes, even some of the simpler ones, utilized four, five and even six cameras at a time. Frequently these cameras were just out of frame of one another and occasionally shot one another while capturing the drama.
Scott would rather not have to ask his actors to repeat a performance for close-ups. “We stage it like a theatre piece,” he says, “so that I can capture moments and let the actors build. When we do retakes, I will throw in ideas or words, or I ask them to reach for this or that and usually after take four or five, I’m finished. Some people think it’s a waste or indulgent, but we get the scene in one set-up and it actually saves time. Rather than having to go back in for more coverage or inserts, we manage to get it all.”
“We use forward flashes, back flashes and normal time,” Mindel further explains. “We wanted to give each part its own look, but we didn’t want to use a look just for the sake of adding tricks or editorial moments. The main tool we used to achieve that end was color reversal film, which we cross-processed and photo-chemically manipulated in the lab. Most of the effects in the movie are in-camera rather than post effects done digitally.”
Mindel calls this the digital intermediate process. Rather than going through days of painstaking color timing at a lab with the director and cinematographer looking over the shoulder of film technicians, most motion picture negatives are now scanned into a computer. The computer allows the same color timing procedure – introducing and balancing the color into the final film print seen on screens in theatres – but the manipulation is done in a digital format.
“The layers of control you get in the digital process are enormous compared to the photochemical controls we got in the lab prior to the development of this technology,” says Mindel. “We load thousands of feet of film, maybe one million feet, into a computer and after Tony works with a color timer, the computer generates a new negative which we send to the film lab. They make a photochemical print from that digitally generated negative which we can manipulate again.”
“Another plus of going to a digital negative is the ability to transfer film at different rates of speed,” the cinematographer explains. Scott and Mindel were particularly fond of using high-speed film and transferring at high speed.
“Ordinarily six frames per second on a motion picture camera will speed up action, giving it a Charlie Chaplinesque feel but if you move or tilt the camera and transfer the film at that same speed, it gives a blurring effect, so using a couple of nominal camera speeds when transferred at certain rates gave us smearing trails when the camera moved. We used that technique to enhance and amplify the effect of the scene.”
“It is layer after layer,” finishes Mindel. “Even though it is a relatively new technology that hasn’t been fully realized yet, it has revolutionized the way that movies are made these days.”
Stefan Sonnenfeld of Company 3 is the rock star of color timing. Tony Scott along with his brother, Ridley and similarly exacting directors as Michael Mann and Michael Bay rely upon his critical eye and incomparable talent as a colorist to bring this process to life.
After Domino wins the Bounty Hunter of the Year Award, a television producer spots her and decides there is enough of a gimmick in a beautiful girl chasing and capturing desperate criminals. For Scott the reality show offered yet another technique and another look for the film.
“It was another ingredient for the pot, but it’s driven by story,” Scott is quick to point out, “it’s not just some hip camera technique or the use of video to show a point of view. We used the actual footage from the guys who were playing the show’s camera crew – I loaded all their cameras every morning and took the footage from them every night and intercut what we got with the film footage.”
The “Bounty Squad” camera crew are played by real life crew members Greg Mitchell and Paul Murphy, who normally work on set in what is called the video assist department, duplicating 35mm camera coverage, handling 24-frame playback, and storing all takes along with any other video needs during filming. Neither had professional experience in behind-the-scenes or documentary production, and Scott did not give them any direction with regards to what to shoot or how to shoot in hopes their footage would have a completely amateur bent. At times the crew got so into their roles, they forgot they were acting, which made for some awkward blocking on set.
“They were a pain in the arse,” Scott says with a hearty laugh. “They were always getting in the way of the film cameras and crowding or cutting off the actors! But they looked right for the parts and they did give me some really valuable pieces of footage. I picked guys with a sense of humor, so they knew what I was going for. The rest of us just laughed at them all the time.”
The second half of the film involving the reality show, “Bounty Squad,” is shot as a road picture and as such many scenes take place inside two Winnebagos, constantly in motion. Rather than cheating the interiors using a traditional technique called “poorman’s process” (in which a vehicle is parked on a stage against an out-of-focus background while lights are flashed in the windows to simulate traffic), Scott shoots such scenes, although not as easy, in the actual moving vehicles.
“A Winnebago is like a goldfish bowl,” he says, “so in those sequences the exteriors are just as important as the interior. Even if you don’t get a good look outside, you feel it. It makes me sad to watch movies that are done using process shots for the background; it’s distracting. So we shot the Winnebagos on the move and it seems to help the actors with the mood as well.”
Scott admits that shooting in a traveling vehicle compounds issues with sound and lighting, but he is meticulous in planning for such details. He knows how long it takes the sun to rise or set, he knows where every shadow is thrown, and he knows the direction in which the vehicle should be headed at any given time of day. He plans, plans and then plans again. Nonetheless, his crew knows to expect changes at any moment because Scott believes in taking advantage of “interesting accidents” when they present themselves, which is the fun and excitement of shooting on location.
He would jam three 35mm cameras inside the trailer, along with video cameras mounted in every conceivable nook and corner, as the crew balanced on any available counter, table or chair and even in the wheel wells after taking up the flooring. Ironically Rizwan Abbasi, who plays Alf the driver, is legally blind and was unable to drive during these scenes, so Scott took the wheel whenever he wasn’t operating one of his many cameras. Scott calls the entire process a “mobile circus.”
“I wanted to drive because I knew where the sun was at any given point during the day, “ he says. “I would change things from take to take because you always get a different performance and something fun.”
The company used a total of eight motor homes, which include a hero interior tricked out with set dressing in true Alf Afghani spirit; a hero exterior, painted from top to bottom with detailed insignias and pictures; a stunt piece for the gimbal roll without the chassis; and several other stunt incarnations stripped and fitted with roll bars and the like for the vast array of action. During “The Bounty Squad” portion of the film, the reality show crew also uses a motor home for which there needed to be a stunt double. Both the stunt and special effects departments took several weeks during prep to outfit each Winnebago as needed. When they were finished, Seagers and set decorator Nancy Nye assigned Tom Kraus to decorate and coordinate all the campers.
“My task was to take their research and create a living reality,” says Kraus, “so that the audience will never know there was more than one of each vehicle.”
Again Seagers used another Tony Scott film for reference. “We went back to Spy Game,” he says. “The drivers there love to paint and adorn their cars and trucks. The artwork goes into great detail. So we went back to Alf’s Afghani roots and worked up some design ideas. We also copied the idea of using a face like helicopter pilots in Vietnam did – we modeled the mouth and teeth from that and expanded to World War II bomber insignias and drew a picture of a beautiful girl on the side of the body. Then we introduced the Afghani flag and put on all sorts of stars and reflectors and frills in the interior. We actually had all that stuff shipped in from Afghanistan.”
When it comes to creating big physical stunts, Scott turns to special effects coordinator Joe Pancake and stunt coordinator Chuck Picerni. “The stunts are fun to do,” says Scott, “but you really need to get a handle on how you’re going to execute them and that’s where Joe is so brilliant and Chuck and his guys are willing to try anything.”
“We have a big stunt with one of the Winnebagos and many people suggested that we shoot the exteriors as a miniature,” the director adds with a laugh. “It was just so ridiculous because the stunt is set in this vast desert and needs to be this wild flip and roll. I needed to figure out how to give it the most impact, which was certainly not to do it in miniature. So we planned the action in pieces – first the impact; then the barrel roll; then it catches a corner, flips up and does a 360 through the air; comes down; and we do another barrel roll. And somehow the characters manage to survive,” he laughs again.
“We did this type of stunt before in Enemy of the State,” says Picerni, “as far as when the Winnebago does it’s canon roll and flips, so Tony has the concept down and knows what it looks like, which helps him to wrap his brain around how we accomplish the gag. He came out to a rehearsal to see how fast this motor home could turn and to see what we can do with it so that helped to set the parameters”.
“We had oilers in the rear that helped
to grease the back end as the vehicle slid around, and we had what they
call line locks to help with the braking system, plus we got my stunt driver
out there a few days early to get him familiar with the vehicle. We wanted
to get him comfortable in the seat and get everything strapped down; put
his belts in, pre-adjust everything for the shoot day.”
Continued at top of column 2.
|“We spent a day
shooting in the desert to get the first part of that stunt,” says producer
Samuel Hadida. “But after all the planning and rehearsal, the Winnebago
missed its mark. Instead of the canon projecting the trailer into
the air and flipping over three times, the vehicle just turned, fell down
and slid – very anticlimactic and nothing matched what Tony had previously
shot. Once the trailer took off incorrectly, the stunt driver assessed
the risk and decided not to take the chance of crashing into the crew.
Even though it’s disappointing and frustrating and even costly when you
plan all day and something doesn’t work, you do it over again because it’s
worth it in the long run. Some decisions are painful, but since it’s
always about making the right decision, you assess every one at least 60
times during a shoot.”
“We had a very heads-up stuntman,” says Pancake. “He came in around the corner and knew he didn’t have the turn, so he didn’t fire the explosives and held onto the vehicle the best he could to get control of it. The end result was that he hit a ridge, which rolled him over. So we just do it again.”
The interior of the same scene was shot on a gimbal erected in an outdoor parking lot at the Los Angeles Center Studios near downtown. Joe Pancake first started working and expanding the use of the gimbal with his mentor, John Frazier, who also contributed to this film.
“We’ve stuck part of a Winnebago inside what we call a ‘roundy-round gimbal’ or circular gimbal,” he explains. “We’re able to put a vehicle in the center of the gimbal and run it on cables like a giant yoyo. The cables wrap around an endless line and run through a shiv all the way down to a 10-ton truck which when driven forward spins the gimbal. When the truck backs up, the line recoils and we go back to one. We just keep resetting over and over until Tony is satisfied with the scene.”
Scott challenged his actors and their stunt doubles to hang on for a 360-degree amusement park ride. Keira Knightley did not hesitate, but Mickey Rourke, Edgar Ramirez, and Rizwan Abbasi (for whom it was the first day on set) weren’t quite as excited. Luckily Scott was teasing and only spun the carriage half way round when the stunt crew disembarked and his talent climbed aboard. For Scott, the secret to a great stunt sequence is getting plenty of coverage and even admits to over-shooting the piece from every possible angle.
“The more coverage, the more exciting, the better,” Scott says. “If you’ve taken enough care to get the audience into the heads of your characters, you don’t want to have them step back and observe a crash like that from an objective position, you want the audience along for the ride, to stay inside the characters’ minds. It’s a fun injection of action.”
Somewhat similar to covering the action in and around his Winnebagos, Scott imagined a location where the cataclysmic action could be observed from both the interior and exterior. He felt it was imperative that the audience be able to see the interaction between the bounty hunters, the Mob to whom they are returning misappropriated property, and the teams of FBI who have been tailing Domino and her gang in order to bring down the organized crime syndicate en flagranté. What better place than 108 stories above the shimmering Las Vegas Strip far below?
It was Scott’s idea to shoot the climactic end sequence of the film atop The Stratosphere Hotel. “The Stratosphere is a visual icon in the landscape that is Las Vegas,” he says. “If I’d been asked to create a set from scratch, I would have built The Stratosphere; its pinnacle was tailor made. And it’s perfect in terms of the story and the characters looking out over the lights of Las Vegas at night.”
But shooting at the famed hotel was no simple matter. There was the question of the film’s fictional hotel owner depicted as a Mob boss, not to mention the dangerous and demanding aspects of taking over space in a functioning hotel and casino. The production also utilized the hotel’s trademark revolving restaurant and lounge, Top of the World, to stage a tense confrontation that erupts into major gunplay.
Stratosphere General Manager/Senior Vice President Bobby Ray Harris consulted with the company’s President and CEO, Richard P. Brown, before deciding to allow Scott and his traveling circus to use the hotel as a major focal point in the story. Everyone on the hotel staff, from security guards to maintenance personnel to the operations department, catering, housekeeping and even the elevator operators; everyone pitched in to assist the movie crew.
Manager of Public Relations, Michael Gilmartin, acted as the movie’s chief liaison for information and resources. “Hosting a Tony Scott film based on a Richard Kelly script was a huge opportunity for The Stratosphere,” he says. “The challenge for us was turning the opportunity into a reality. The Top of the World Restaurant is sold out nightly and it’s difficult to displace guests in any area of the hotel or casino because so many people make vacation and business plans months in advance.
“As luck would have it, Tony filmed during the slowest week of the year, just before Christmas,” Gilmartin continues. “Because Las Vegas is a 24-7 town, any renovations must be done during those rare slow weeks at the beginning of December, and fortunately the major kitchen renovation we’d been planning, as well as extensive tile work in the Lounge above the restaurant, could be done at the same time. Ultimately, it became a win-win situation and we were able to give Domino unobstructed access for a week.”
Production designer Chris Seagers cannot say enough about his contacts at the hotel. “Mike and Joe Sullivan (Senior Lead, Facilities) were just fantastic. They really entered into the spirit of the whole thing and they made the actual process possible. The film wouldn’t have been there without them.
“We did a technical scout of the sight about five months before we began our prep,” continues Seagers, “so it was a slow process. Given that the sequence begins outside the hotel and moves through the casino, all the way up to the Tower and beyond, we had to plan, organize and arrange for a big piece of the movie. And as we were going, Tony kept expanding the sequence. The hotel never blinked, no matter what we asked even as each portion of the shoot expanded all the way through the time we began shooting at the actual location.”
At 1,149 feet (135 stories), the Stratosphere Tower is the tallest freestanding tower in the United States, rising higher than Seattle's Space Needle, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the famed Tokyo Tower. The tower itself has 12 levels with indoor and outdoor observation decks, which allow for an awe-inspiring view of the entire Las Vegas valley and beyond, plus it sports three web cameras for an online view. Four high-speed, double-deck elevators that travel 1,400 feet per minute whisk guests from ground level to the observation decks in 40 seconds. Traveling at up to 2,500 feet per minute, these are the world's fastest elevators. The elevators make 20 round trips per hour. Eight passenger cabins hold 16 people each. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Stratosphere Tower is equipped with a special lighting system designed to provide a spectacular light show nightly. For the strong at heart the Hotel and Casino currently runs four extreme thrill rides – Insanity, X-Scream, Big Shot and High Roller – that take off from the deck of the tower.
One special effects gag involved blowing out two of the restaurant’s 6x4-foot plate glass windows with a gigantic fireball, known in special effects speak as a dirty naphthalene style explosion. The windows are ¾-inch thick and weigh 150 pounds each. Laminated, double-panel with gas in the center to prevent condensation, each window costs $10,000 and had never been removed since the Tower’s construction.
“As long as we didn’t stop any major hotel operations, they were happy,” says Seagers. “For safety reasons we also had to include the fire department in order to remove the windows. We made rigs to get out the glass, because it would not budge. Each pane is shaped in such a way that it cannot be pulled straight out because it was installed from the outside in. Our rigs pulled the pane out, spun it round and swung it back through the opening. That’s easily done, sitting in an office, describing how you’re going to do it, but hats off to the guys who managed to execute the task and put the glass back.”
“It was another little challenge for the hotel,” Seagers says with a laugh. “But the only response we ever heard was, ‘Well, we haven’t done that before, but we’ll try.’ And happen it did. I don’t know that the word ‘NO’ even exists in Las Vegas!”
As is his practice, Scott had several cameras placed inside and out, to capture the fireball and shoot out sequences. Wanting the best seat in the house, he jumped aboard a helicopter to oversee the most exciting camera angle.
The fireball sequence was completed in four parts. The company covered the scene in the actual restaurant with the windows intact. Another piece was completed on the roof of the building using a 1:8 ratio model constructed to capture the look of glass shattering. Yet another piece was the actual fireball blowing out the opening created once the windows were removed, and the final piece of the sequence was shot on stage in Los Angeles in a replica of the restaurant.
Despite the insane logistics, which included shooting down the restaurant’s interior elevator shaft while the elevator was moving, everything went off without a hitch. The actual explosion inside the elevator and a portion of the close-ups during the shootout were shot on stage in Los Angeles, but the majority of the sequence was shot during the final week of production at the hotel in Las Vegas.
“It was tough,” Scott says. “We had to convince a lot of people, but in the end, everyone from the hotel was on board and the needle of the Stratosphere became the conceptual overview for the end sequence of the film. Shootouts are tough because, like love scenes, they’ve been done to death, so it’s always a challenge to come up with something fresh.”
Because shooting at night against dark sky was so difficult, Scott and Mindel again chose to shoot hi-def as well as film at six frames per second. They then transferred the film at six, which gained three stops. “But weird things happen when you do that,” says Scott, “the lights of Vegas streak behind the choppers. Everything has an after-trail.”
The top of the Stratosphere set a different tone and direction for this sequence in which our heroes realize they have been double-crossed and have nowhere to turn. The scene culminates in a moment of awareness and comprehension for all the characters, including the bad guys, who come to realize the many different possible directions in which fate has played a hand to bring each of them to this moment: Heads, you live. Tails, you die.
“And so the film comes full circle, back
to Domino’s coin principle,” says Scott, “the mythic, legendary principle
by which she lives her life. Will she escape?”
ABOUT THE CAST
Keira Knightley (Domino Harvey)
Only 17 when principal photography began on Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, she met the many challenges presented by a difficult and physically taxing role with excitement and ardor. She will continue as “Elizabeth Swann” in the next two installments of the Pirates series set to go before cameras in February 2005.
Knightley made headlines in the worldwide sleeper hit, Bend it Like Beckham as “Jules Paxton” opposite Parminder K. Nagra. After wrapping Pirates of the Caribbean, she went straight into production on another Jerry Bruckheimer Films production, King Arthur, in which she portrayed “Guinevere.” Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the film also starred Clive Owen as “Arthur.”
Released in November 2003, Knightley appeared in Love Actually as part of an impressive ensemble cast that included Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Laura Linney, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson. She also starred in the film Pure, which opened in December 2003. Among her additional credits are The Hole, Princess of Thieves, Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, The Beginning and Innocent Lie.
Knightley most recently completed production on Pride and Prejudice for Working Title Films and director Joe Wright in which she stars as “Elizabeth Bennet” with Brenda Blethyn, Judi Dench and Donald Sutherland. Most recently she starred opposite Adrien Brody in the Warner Bros. Independent thriller The Jacket, directed by John Maybury. The film costars Kris Kristofferson and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Born in Teddington, Middlesex, England,
Knightley currently makes her home in London.
Mickey Rourke (Ed Mosbey)
His career has been defined by his performances in 9 ½ Weeks, Barfly, Angel Heart, Year of the Dragon, Pope of Greenwich Village, Rumblefish and Diner. Other notable appearances include Sean Penn’s The Pledge, Steve Buscemi’s Animal Factory, Wong Kar Wai’s BMW short film The Follow, Francis Ford Coppola’s Rain Maker opposite Matt Damon, Jonas Akerlund’s cult hit Spun, and Robert Rodriguez’ Once Upon A Time in Mexico.
Mickey was most recently in Tony Scott’s blistering hardboiled revenge film Man on Fire, opposite Denzel Washington. He stars in the upcoming Sin City for co-directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, based on the classic graphic novel.
Edgar Ramirez (Choco)
He has appeared in several international film productions. Among those are El Don (The Boss), directed by J.R. Novoa (Venezuela/Spain); La Hora Cero (The Magic Hour), a short film directed by Guillermo Arriaga, the acclaimed screenwriter of Amores Perros and 21 Grams (Mexico); El Nudo (The Knot), directed by Alejandro Wiederman (Venezuela); Yotama Se Va Volando (Yotama Flies Away), directed by Luis Armando Roche (Venezuela-France); Punto Y Raya (Step Forward), directed by Elia K. Schneider (Venezuela-Spain-Chile-Uruguay), a nominee for Oscar consideration for 2004 Best Foreign Film; and Anonimo (Anonymous), directed by Enelio Farina (Venezuela).
A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Ramirez grew up all over the world due to his father's job as a military attaché. He has made his home in such diverse countries as Austria, Canada, Colombia, Italy and Mexico and is fluent in German, English, French, Italian and Spanish as a result. Throughout his travels Ramirez developed a great love and ability for intercultural communication, a skill he parlayed into a degree in journalism. He specialized in political communications and initially intended on becoming a diplomat.
In 2000, before turning to acting full time, Ramirez was the executive director of “Ngo Dale Al Voto” (a Venezuelan organization akin to Rock The Vote). In order to foster democratic values among young people, Ramirez and his team created cutting edge campaigns for radio, television and cinema, which made a huge impact on audiences throughout the country. He also lent his expertise to various important multilateral organizations in Venezuela such as the Organization of American States, Transparency International and Amnesty International, among others.
Upcoming is the recently completed Cirano Fernandez, with Ramierz in the title role, Columbian cult actor, Rafael Uribe. This enormous Venezuelan-Spanish co-production will be directed by Alberto Arvelo and is based on the French play Cyrano de Bergerac. The project aspires to be the Venezuelan response to such memorable Latin-American films as City of God and Amores Perros.
Rizwan Abbasi (Alf)
He left school with no qualifications and wanted to join the Navy, but instead ended up working at a clothes stall in Islington Market in Edinburgh every weekend. After spending time in Edinburgh, he set his sights on moving to an even bigger city, and enrolled at a leading drama school, The Drama Centre, in London in 1989. Before long he also landed himself an agent.
Abbasi played the role of Kevin, in the UK mystery/crime series “Silent Witness,” starring Amanda Burton. He also appeared opposite Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman in “Diomidies” at London’s Royal National Theatre, as well as playing a regular character in BBC Scotland’s flagship drama series “Rivercity.”
Domino is Abbasi’s first starring role in a major motion picture.
Ian Ziering (Himself)
On Broadway, Ziering performed as Nils in the musical version of “I Remember Mama.” He also starred as John in the national tour of “Peter Pan.” In 1981, Ziering made his feature film debut in Endless Love.
Ziering starred in the feature films Flash Flame and Savate, and starred in the television movie “Daytona Blues.” He most recently completed the independent feature Stripped Down.
Ziering, a native of West Orange, New Jersey, resides in Los Angeles. He is a graduate of William Paterson College in Wayne, N.J.
Brian Austin Green (Himself)
Work in commercials followed, as did the opportunity to play a role in the PBS production of “The Canterville Ghost” starring Richard Kiley. He was next offered the role of Donna Mills’ son on the hit series “Knots Landing,” on which he appeared for three and a half seasons. Guest starring on such shows as “Highway to Heaven,” “Small Wonder” and “Growing Pains,” as well as roles in several pilots led to the role of David Silver on “Beverly Hills 90210.” The popular show was a staple on the Fox Network for ten seasons. Green extended his contribution to the series to include the duties of producer and director. He also produced the ABC telefilm, “Unwed Father,” in which he starred. Among his other credits are the Showtime series “Dead Man’s Gun,” the theatre productions of “Ah,” “Wilderness” and “The Diary.”
Green also has a record company, Shen Productions, that has signed its first artist, Samuel Christian to Loud Records/Sony. In 1995 Green recorded his own album, “One Stop Carnival,” for Yah Yum Records/Sony 550.
His work in independent films includes Ronnie, Cock and Bull Story and Purgatory Flats, and the short films Righteous Indignation and Bleach. He also starred on the Showtime series “Resurrection Blvd.”
Most recently Green starred opposite Sara Rue and Carly Pope in the romantic comedy “This Time Around” for ABC Family Films, and has also completed directing his debut feature film, Fish Without a Bicycle. He will also appear in ABC’s upcoming series “Freddie” alongside Freddie Prinze, Jr.
Christopher Walken (Mark Heiss)
Mena Suvari (Kimmie)
Mena will be seen this fall in Rumor Has It directed by Rob Reiner, starring opposite Jennifer Aniston, Shirley McLaine, and Kevin Costner, playing Jennifer’s younger sister.
Mena’s starring role in the MGM feature Beauty Shop, in which she stars opposite Queen Latifah and Kevin Bacon was seen by audiences this last April.
Mena won critical praise recurring on the acclaimed HBO series “Six Feet Under” currently airing. Suvari plays Edie, an eccentric lesbian performance artist.
Mena’s film, Trauma, in which she stars with Colin Firth, and produced by Jonathan Cavendish (Bridget Jones’ Diary) premiered in Sundance, 2004 and will be released in the US in November of this year.
In 2003, Mena made her stage debut in “The World of Nick Adams” at The Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, where she starred as Marjorie opposite Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts & Matt Damon.
In 2002, she starred in two widely applauded independent feature films. Sonny starring opposite James Franco, Brenda Blethyn, and Harry Dean Stanton marked Nicolas Cage’s directing debut and premiered at the 2002 Deauville Film Festival. The second film was Spun, directed by acclaimed music director Jonas Akerlund, in which she starred opposite John Leguizamo. She played a daring role as a young woman addicted to crystal meth. The film premiered at the Deauville, Toronto, and Sundance film festivals.
In September 2001, Mena starred in the film The Musketeer starring opposite Tim Roth, Stephen Rea, Catherine Deneuve, and Justin Chambers in which she plays a young French girl in 1630’s France, based on the classic tale of The Musketeer.
Mena was the winner of 2 Movieline Awards for “Breakthrough Performance” for American Beauty and “Best Ensemble” cast for American Pie. She also received a Screen Actor’s Guild Award for “Best Ensemble Cast” for American Beauty.
She made her film debut with a starring role in the Greg Araki film Nowhere. Her other film credits include Slums of Beverly Hills, Kiss the Girls, and Snide and Prejudice.
Suvari won acclaim in other notable television appearances included a recurring part on the Steven Spielberg produced drama series “High Incident” and her portrayal of an HIV-infected youth on “Chicago Hope.”
In 2003, Mena Suvari became the new worldwide advertising face of the famed Paris cosmetic company Lancôme and in 2005, Mena was featured by the acclaimed jewelry house, Harry Winston, in their winter advertising campaign, shot by the late legendary photographer Richard Avedon.
Jacqueline Bisset (Sophie Wynn)
Her latest project with director John Irvin, entitled The Physical Education of Girls, is based on the book Mine Ha- Ha, Or Physical Education of Young Girls, by German author Frank Wedekind in which she plays a strict headmistress at an unusual and mysterious girls’ school.
Her most recent film projects have been with interesting young directors, in provocative and demanding roles, including Sleepy Time Gal, which premiered at Sundance, going on to the Edinburgh Film Festival, the Berlin Film Festival and festivals in New York and Chicago, to great acclaim. Written and directed by Christopher Munch, Bisset’s role is a tour de force as a woman facing a serious illness crisis while trying to settle some unfinished relationships in her life. She also starred in Fascination on location in Puerto Rico for writer/director Klaus Menze, portraying a woman suspected of her husband’s murder when she quickly remarries after his death, as well as Later Days for writer/director A.J. Cox (Sweet Home Alabama).
Other film projects have included Britanic, for the producers of Gods & Monsters, and New Year’s Day, with Michael Kitchen and Jean Marie Baptiste, for the producers of Secrets and Lies, which premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. She also made a departure from her usual dramatic roles to do the French film, Les Gens S’il Qui Aiment, a frothy comedy romp. This film, which translates to People who Like Each Other, premiered at the Chicago Film Festival, and had a special screening at the Palm Springs Film Festival.
Bisset also starred in Warner Bros’ Dangerous Beauty (released overseas as A Destiny of Her Own). Set in 1560’s Venice, she portrayed a woman who teaches her daughter to be a successful courtesan, other than being a wife, nun or scullery maid. Bisset co-starred with Catherine McCormack and Rufus Sewell.
Bisset previously starred in Claude Charbrol’s La Cermonie, named best foreign film by the Los Angeles Critics Association. In this psychological drama, Bisset’s character, the wife in an affluent French suburban family, hires a housekeeper with terrifying results. Other projects have included Don’t Talk to Strangers with Teresa Russell, for CBS, as well as starring in two original films for Showtime. Bisset is one of the few stars whose production schedule is as international as her publicity. She frequently mixes French or Italian productions with her major Hollywood projects. Bisset has worked with such international stars as Phillipe Noiret, Jean Paul Belmondo and Jürgen Prochnow, as well as American and English leading men, including Paul Newman, Mickey Rourke, Nick Nolte, Albert Finney, Anthony Andrews, Paul Scofield and Martin Sheen. The result has been classic box office and critical success.
Bisset’s film productions often take her to far off locales. The Italian production, Rossini, Rossini was filmed in Italy; she paired with Rourke for Wild Orchid in Brazil; Les Marmottes, L’Amoureuse and The Maid (opposite Martin Sheen) took her to France; Scenes From a Class Struggle in Beverly Hills was shot in the title city; Greek Tycoon and High Season had her filming in the Greek Isles, and Hoffman’s Hunger was shot in Holland, Morocco and Czechoslovakia.
Bisset is best known for her powerful dramatic
performances in Under the Volcano, Anna Karenina, Forbidden, and opposite
George C. Scott in the powerful ABC drama, Choices. John Huston’s
adaptation of the modern classic Malcom Lowry novel, Under the Volcano,
teamed her with Albert Finney and brought Bisset some of the most laudatory
reviews of her career, in addition to a Golden Glove nomination for “Best
Dramatic Actress.” The film was warmly received when it premiered
as the official American entry at the Cannes Film Festival, and was a highly
critical success throughout the world.
She was born Jacqueline Fraser Bisset in Weybridge, Surrey, England, her father a Scottish doctor and her French mother a lawyer. Modeling assignments led to small parts in features such as Richard Lester’s The Knack in 1965, Arrividerchi Baby starring Tony Curtis in 1966, and a small, featured role in Roman Polanski’s Cul-de-Sac in 1966.
It was the 1967 James Bond spoof Casino Royal that won Bisset a long-term contract at 20th Century Fox. An impressive list of films followed in short order, including Stanley Donen’s Two for the Road (1967), The Sweet Ride, and a role opposite Frank Sinatra in The Detective.
In 1970, she was one of the stars of Airport, Universal Studio’s highest-grossing film at the time. That same year, she also starred in The Grasshopper, a tour-de-force role that earned her stellar reviews.
In 1972, Francois Truffaut cast Bisset as an unstable Hollywood actress recovering from an emotional breakdown. Other foreign productions in which she has appeared include France’s Le Magnifique with Jean-Paul Belmondo, Sunday Woman, a French-Italian production with Marcello Mastroianni and Jean Louis Trintignant, and the Italian Together? with Maximillian Schell and Terrance Stamp. Then, in 1977, Bisset starred with Nick Nolte and Robert Shaw in one of the all-time box office hits, The Deep.
Other roles which added to her international stardom included The Thief Who Came to Dinner, Huston’s The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, The Greek Tycoon, in which she teamed with Anthony Quinn in a pairing reminiscent of Jacqueline Kennedy and Aristotle Onasis, Sydney Lumet’s Murder on the Orient Express, and Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? Her emergence as one of the international film world’s most lustrous stars once landed her on the covers of both Newsweek and People in the same week. She has subsequently graced the covers of most of the world’s most-esteemed magazines.
Based in Los Angeles, Bisset divides her
time between America and Europe.
Lucy Liu (Taryn Miles)
Liu's blossoming film career was thrust into over-drive when she starred with Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore in Columbia Tri-Star's blockbuster hit, Charlie’s Angels, and its sequel, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. Liu was also recently seen opposite Uma Thurman in Quentin Tarantino's critically acclaimed film for Miramax, Kill Bill: Volume I and in the second installment, Kill Bill: Volume II.
Lucy is currently on production in the Sebastian Gutierrez supernatural thriller Rise, co-starring Michael Chiklis and will next start production in action comedy The Cleaner with co-star Cedric the Entertainer.
Liu recently completed production on 3 Needles, due out in 2005. Liu also recently completed work on Lucky Number Slevin opposite Josh Harnett and Ben Kingsley. The film deals with a case of mistaken identity that lands a man (Harnett) in the middle of a murder being plotted by one of New York City's biggest crime bosses.
Lucy recently returned to the small screen on the NBC hit sitcom “Joey,” reuniting with Charlie’s Angels ‘ co-star Matt LeBlanc.
Liu's additional film credits include roles opposite Jackie Chan in Universal's hit comedy Shanghai Noon; opposite Mel Gibson in Payback; opposite Antonio Banderas and Woody Harrelson in Touchstone Pictures' Play it to the Bone; another role opposite Banderas in the action-thriller Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever; and a cameo role in the Oscar-winning film, Chicago.
Liu is set to make her debut as a producer, having sold a pitch to Universal Pictures. She has also signed a deal to executive produce and star in a contemporary big-screen version of Charlie Chan for Twentieth Century Fox.
On television, Liu appeared as the unforgettable Ling Woo in the hit Fox series, "Ally McBeal," a role for which she scored an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. She guest-starred on HBO's "Sex & the City" and has lent her voice to such animated series as "The Simpsons," "Futurama" and "King of the Hill."
Delroy Lindo (Claremont Williams III)
Most recently he appeared in Sahara starring Matthew McConaughey, Penelope Cruz and William H. Macy, and in the sci-fi thriller, The Core, with Hilary Swank, Aaron Eckhart and Tcheky Karyo.
Other memorable roles for which he garnered critical acclaim include Bob Lane in David Mamet’s Heist, co-starring Gene Hackman and Danny DeVito; Mr. Rose in The Cider House Rules; and Rodney in Spike Lee’s drama Clockers. He also worked with Lee on Crooklyn and Malcolm X, the latter earning him an NAACP Image Award nomination.
Lindo’s impressive filmography also includes such features as Wondrous Oblivion, The Last Castle, The One, Gone in 60 Seconds, Ransom (for which he received an NAACP Image Award nomination for his role opposite Mel Gibson), A Life Less Ordinary with Cameron Diaz and Ewan McGregor, Get Shorty, again with Hackman and DeVito, Broken Arrow (with John Travolta), Feeling Minnesota, Romeo Must Die, Mr. Jones, L’Exil du Roi Behanzin, The Devil’s Advocate, Bright Angel and Mountains of the Moon.
On the small screen, Lindo was recently seen in Lackawanna Blues for HBO and in The Exonerated for Court TV. He also portrayed Ricardo Thornton in the critically acclaimed CBS drama Profoundly Normal. He starred as Clarence Thomas in the Peabody Award winner, Strange Justice, directed by Ernest Dickerson and co-starring Regina Taylor, Louis Gossett, Jr., Paul Winfield and Mandy Patinkin for Showtime, and portrayed baseball legend Satchel Paige in the stirring sports drama, Soul of the Game. Delroy also played Arctic explorer Matthew Henson in Glory and Honor for TNT and appeared in HBO’s First Time Felon.
On Broadway, Lindo appeared in August Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” for which he received Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations. He also starred in “Master Harold and the Boys” both on Broadway and for the play’s National Tour, as well as headlining the Kennedy Center and the Los Angeles productions of “A Raisin in the Sun” for which he received the NAACP Image Award for Best Actor as well as a nomination for the Helen Hayes Award. Lindo has also worked extensively off-Broadway and in regional theaters throughout the United States and Canada.
For television, Lindo conceived, directed, hosted and produced three fascinating, in-depth documentaries -- Delroy Lindo on Spike Lee, Delroy Lindo in Conversations with Charles Burnett and Delroy Lindo and Joan Chen: A Conversation.
He will next work with writer/director
Deborah Kampmeier in her poignant southern drama, Hounddog. Lindo
will co-star with David Morse and Robin Wright-Penn.
Mo’Nique (Lateesha Rodriguez)
Mo’Nique credits her big break as the day she quit her job at the phone company in Baltimore to pursue her comedy dream wholeheartedly. Another pivotal career break came in 1999 when she landed a starring role as Nikki Parker on the hit UPN television series “The Parkers.” During the shows five year run, in which she starred as a single mom who attends college with her daughter, Mo'Nique earned numerous awards, including four NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series in 2001, 2002, 2004, and 2005, and receiving nominations all five years of the show’s existence.
Her film credits include the features Shadowboxer, Irish Jam, Soul Plane, Three Strikes, Baby Boy, Two Can Play That Game, which earned her an NAACP Image Award Nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture, the independent films Hair Show and Phat Girls, and the Showtime tele-film Good Fences.
Mo'Nique's bold and sarcastic stand-up routine also landed her a starring role in the hit stand-up comedy film, "The Queens of Comedy," which was released in 2002 by Paramount Home Entertainment and aired on the Showtime Network. "The Queens of Comedy" also toured the country as a live comedy concert, which was released as an album, of the same title, and went on to earn a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Spoken Comedy Album.
For the second consecutive year, Mo’Nique is host of the nationally televised program, “Showtime at the Apollo.” She made history as the first female comedienne to serve in that coveted capacity. She is also in pre-production on an upcoming first-ever full-figured beauty pageant for the Oxygen network and in talks to host her own syndicated daytime talk show, produced by Telepictures.
Mo’Nique has become a role model for voluptuous women everywhere, proving that you don’t have to be a size 0 to be sexy and fabulous. Her musings on life are featured in the best-selling book entitled Skinny Women are Evil published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. Released in April 2003, the book became a New York Times bestseller.
This fall, she will also debut her eponymous
clothing line for women size 12-22 in upscale stores nationwide.
Macy Gray (Lashandra Davis)
Macy exploded onto the music scene with her incredibly successful debut album, “On How Life Is.” Her single “I Try” landed her a Grammy in 1999 for “Best New Artist” and the album went on to sell over 7 million copies worldwide. In her second album, “The Id,” Macy was immensely successful with such eclectic songs as “Psychopath,” “Sexual Revolution,” and “Sweet Baby.” She traveled extensively throughout the world performing in various countries such as Israel, Australia, and Europe where she is extremely popular, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Holland.
In July 2003, Macy Gray released her highly anticipated third album, “The Trouble with Being Myself.” The album demonstrated Macy exploring a more intimate side of herself, revealing just how textured and unique she can be. Music critics universally hailed the album as her best yet. Her album’s reviews are spectacular with high praise from “The New York Times,” “Rolling Stone,” “People,” “Entertainment Weekly” and “The Los Angeles Times.” Her two singles, “When I See You” and “She Ain’t Right for You,” received considerable play on radio and television.
Macy is currently in the studio finishing off her latest album “BIG” which will be released in Fall 2005. The album is being produced by will.i.am (from the Black Eyed Peas) and features collaborations with Justin Timberlake, Sleepy Brown, Linda Perry and Natalie Cole.
When not working on her own albums, Macy continues to collaborate with many artists such as Carlos Santana, contributing a song on his latest album, “The Essential Santana.” Macy’s pleasing sound has also recently graced such soundtracks as Mona Lisa Smile and Eminem’s critically acclaimed blockbuster 8 Mile in which she was the only female artist featured. She also recorded a song for the Academy Award winning film, Chicago along with Queen Latifah and Lil Kim.
Macy has also managed to find time to spread her acting wings as well. She most recently appeared in the HBO television movie “Lackawanna Blues” which just received seven Emmy Award nominations. She has also appeared in the ABC television drama, “MDs” where she played a talented singer who was diagnosed with a career damaging disease in her throat. Many television critics applauded her sensitive portrayal of this character. In January 2004, Macy appeared in NBC’s hit show “American Dreams” in a guest-starring role as the legendary Carla Thomas.
With roles in Warner Bros. Training Day starring Denzel Washington and a cameo in the blockbuster hit Spider Man, Macy’s film career is taking off. She has also appeared in Scary Movie 3, The Crow: Wicked Prayer, and in Jackie Chan’s remake of Around the World in 80 Days. She will also be seen in Shadowboxer opposite Cuba Gooding, Jr. and in Speakerboxx, the musical also featuring Outkast. Macy is currently developing her own animated cartoon with Warner Bros., which will be based on her own childhood. She will lend her unique voice as the central character in this cartoon.
In addition to her acting and music career, Macy has proliferated into the world of fashion. The Natalie Hinds Collection by Macy Gray delivers beautiful clothes designed in the spirit of the world’s most beautiful places. Like Macy, this brand new clothing line is bold and exquisite, with enough attitude to stand out from the crowd.
Macy is also working on opening her own music school, The M. Gray Music Academy, in “NoHo Arts District” (North Hollywood, CA) in September 2005.
Macy Gray currently lives in Los Angeles with her three children.
Shondrella Avery (Lashindra Davis)
Avery grew up in South Central Los Angeles and is the eldest of 200 children. Nine are her natural siblings and 190 are extended foster family members. Her unique family situation lead her to write and perform her one woman show, “Ain’t I Enough,” a dramedy for HBO where she tells the story of growing up with her enormous family. She has numerous plays to her credit and on television she has guest starred on “The Jamie Foxx Show,” “For your Love,” “Cedric the Entertainer Presents,” “Martin,” “Living Single” and “Strong Medicine.” Her feature films include starring with John Amos in Watermelon Heist, Showtime’s Catfish and Gumbo and the cult favorite Trippin with Donald Faison and Guy Torry.
Avery is a graduate of Los Angeles County
High School for the Arts Theater Program and holds a Bachelors Degree in
Fine Arts from Cal State Los Angeles. She is a member of the famed Groundlings
Comedy Troupe and also studies with The Second City. She makes her
home in Los Angeles with her husband. Both are avid skydivers and
movie buffs. She enjoys home decorating and is a renowned event planner
among her circle of friends.
Joseph Nunez (Raul)
A native of Chicago, Nuñez grew up in the politically charged worlds of city government, baseball and sketch comedy. After attending college and several brief, unsuccessful stints in the workforce, Nuñez returned to one of his favorite youthful haunts, the world renowned Second City Theatre, to begin studying sketch comedy and improvisation in earnest. Before long, Nuñez was traveling the country with the Second City National Touring Company. He also wrote and performed in several Second City Outreach productions as well as worked with The Annoyance Theater and the Improv Olympic.
A relative newcomer to Hollywood, Nuñez has continued to produce live shows with his Latino-based sketch group “Barrio Speedwagon” at local venues such as the I.O. West and the world famous Comedy Store.
On television, Nuñez appeared on the hit series “Arrested Development” as Lupe’s brother, on “Cedric The Entertainer Presents” as well as in several guest spots on Comedy Central. He has also appeared in several national television commercials.
Nuñez will next be seen in director Judd Apatow’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin starring Steve Carell, Catherine Keener and Paul Rudd, and is presently working on Columbia Pictures’ Pursuit of Happyness, starring Will Smith and directed by Gabriele Muccino.
Nuñez currently resides in Los Angeles with a filthy roommate and two disgusting cats.
Dabney Coleman (Drake Bishop)
Coleman’s other television credits include “The Texan,” “Kiss My Act,” “My Date with the President’s Daughter,” “In the Line of Duty,” “Must Be Santa,” “Guilty of Innocence: The Lenell Geter Story,” “Never Forget” and the television series “Drexell’s Class” and “Madman of the People”. He was featured in the CBS drama "The Guardian" all three seasons.
In motion pictures, many people feel Coleman’s breakthrough performance was in 9 to 5 essaying the role of the male chauvinist boss. Over the years, the veteran actor has starred in Tootsie, War Games, On Golden Pond, Cloak and Daggar, On Golden Pond and Dragnet. Recently, he’s been seen in You’ve Got Mail, Inspector Gadget, Stuart Little, Moonlight Mile and is heard as the voice of Principal Prickley in the animated feature Recess: School’s Out.
He was born in Austin, Texas and raised
in Corpus Christi, Texas, and currently resides in Los Angeles. His
birth date is Jan. 3.
Tabitha Brownstone (Young Domino)
In the middle of 2004, Brownstone decided she wanted to seriously pursue a career in acting. On the call back of her second audition she met Tony Scott, who hired her for the part of Young Domino.
In her spare time, Brownstone likes to
shop, volunteer at her church, play video games, watch cartoons and do
crafts of all sorts. She also spends time playing with her one-year-old
Rotweiler and her two cats.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Tony Scott (Director/Producer)
Tony has recently signed on with brother Ridley to create Numb3rs, a new one-hour drama from Scott Free Productions in association with Paramount Network Television for CBS. In Numb3rs, an FBI Special Agent recruits his mathematical genius brother to help the Bureau solve a wide-range of challenging crimes in Los Angeles. The series is inspired by actual events.
Man on Fire, the 20th Century Fox film which opened in April 2004, reunited Scott with Denzel Washington. The thriller stared Washington as a government operative who stops at nothing to rescue the kidnapped child (Dakota Fanning) who he was sworn to protect.
In 2001, Scott was at the helm with two other big-name stars in Universal's Spy Game. The taut, ambitious thriller reunited Robert Redford and Brad Pitt for the first time since 1992's A River Runs Through It.
Scott's ability to mine box office gold from a deft blending of material and talent was evident in his last film, Touchstone Pictures' Enemy of the State. Starring Will Smith and Gene Hackman and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, the political thriller became one of biggest hits of 1998. That same year, Scott directed one episode of Showtime's The Hunger trilogy, with Giovanni Ribisi and David Bowie, an adaptation of his 1983 feature film.
In 1996, Scott joined a very short list of Billion Dollar Grossing Directors thanks to the success of his two previous films. Starring Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman as rival commanders of a nuclear submarine, Crimson Tide was an intense, claustrophobic thriller that garnered both critical and popular acclaim. Scott followed that with Tri-Star Pictures' The Fan, in which Robert De Niro starred as an obsessed fan who stalks baseball star Wesley Snipes.
Born in Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, England, Scott attended the Sunderland Art School, where he received a fine arts degree in painting. While completing a yearlong post-graduate study at Leeds College, he developed an interest in cinematography and made One of the Missing, a half hour film financed by the British Film Institute and based on an Ambrose Bierce short story. He then went on to earn his Master of Fine Arts degree at the Royal College of Arts, completing another film for the British Film Institute, Loving Memory, from an original script financed by Albert Finney.
In 1973, Scott partnered with brother Ridley to form the commercial production company, RSA, with offices in London, New York and Los Angeles. Over the next decade, Scott created some of the world’s most entertaining and memorable commercials, honing his film vocabulary and picking up every major honor in the field, including a number of Clio awards, several Silver and Gold Lion Awards from the Cannes International Television/Cinema Commercials Festival and London’s prestigious Designers & Art Directors Award.
While working as a commercial director, Scott also made three movies for television: two documentaries and a one-hour special entitled Author of Beltraffio, from the story by Henry James.
Scott made his feature debut in 1983 with the modern vampire story The Hunger, starring Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, and Susan Sarandon. Three years later he directed Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis in the mega-blockbuster Top Gun, whose stunning aerial sequences helped make it a global success. Scott confirmed his place as one of Hollywood's premiere action directors the following year with Beverly Hills Cop II, starring Eddie Murphy.
Over the next five years, Scott direct four more movies, including Revenge (1988), with Kevin Costner and Anthony Quinn; Days of Thunder (1990), starring Tom Cruise and Robert Duvall; The Last Boy Scout (1991), with Bruce Willis; and the critically acclaimed True Romance (1993), starring Christian Slater, Roseanna Arquette and Christopher Walker, with a script by Quentin Tarantino.
In early 1995, the Scott brothers provided a big boost for the British film industry by purchasing the legendary Shepperton Studios in West London, where more than 600 feature films have been made.
Samuel Hadida (Producer)
Metropolitan has distributed hundreds of successful films in France, continuing through The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Through the growth of this distribution business, Hadida has developed a keen sense of understanding distribution and marketing. It was then an easy step for Hadida to move into producing his own films.
His first production was True Romance, the first film produced from a Quentin Tarantino script and his first collaboration with director Tony Scott. Hadida now produces or co-produces several films each year through Davis Films, the production company owned and operated by him and Victor. These productions encompass the best of the French industry, European productions and co-productions, and American productions.
In addition to Domino, Hadida has most recently produced Resident Evil and Resident Evil: The Apocalypse with Milla Jovovich, Christophe Gans’ Silent Hill with Radha Mitchell and Sean Bean for 2006 release, The Bridge of San Luis Rey with Robert De Niro, and Fabian Bielinsky’s thriller El Aura. He has also co-executive produced George Clooney’s Good Night and Good Luck.
Hadida has had a long collaboration with writer-director Roger Avary, having produced Avary’s first directing venture, Killing Zoe (with Jean-Hugues Anglade and Julie Delpy) and executive producing his Rules of Attraction. Hadida reached out to Avary to write his current Silent Hill, based on the successful video game by Konami.
He also has a long association with acclaimed French director Christophe Gans. He produced Gans’s first film, Necronomicon, his next film Crying Freeman, and then the phenomenally successful Le Pacte des Loup (Brotherhood of the Wolf), one of the biggest French grossing French films of all time and nominee of four Cesar Awards and eight Saturn Awards. Gans is currently directly Silent Hill for Hadida.
Other Hadida productions include David Cronenberg’s acclaimed psychological horror film Spider starring Ralph Fiennes and Miranda Richardson, Sheldon Lettich’s Only the Strong (the first Capoeira/martial arts film, and the film which introduced both Mark Decascos and the famous score music now popularized in the United States in the “zoom zoom zoom” Mazda car commercials), Michael Radford’s Dancing at the Blue Iguana, Steve Barron’s Pinocchio with Martin Landau (one of the first films to combine computer-generated images and live action), Matthew Bright’s Freeway (winner of the top award at the Cognac Festival and Reese Witherspoon’s first role), and Gabriele Salvatores’ Nirvana.
Upcoming projects include Onimusha, the
adaptation of the successful Capcom video game as well as Judge Dee, to
be adapted from the famous series of books by author Robert van Gulik.
Barry Waldman (Executive Producer)
Born and raised in New York, Waldman moved to Florida to complete his studies at the University of Miami. Upon graduation, he paid his dues as a production assistant before quickly moving up the ranks to become an assistant director on various independent films and television programs. He first met producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay when he worked on the second unit of the original Bad Boys, which sparked a long running association with both entertainment moguls.
Waldman realized his ambition as he quickly progressed to producing and production managing such popular television shows as Key West and Dead at 21, which garnered a Genesis Award and a Cable Ace nomination. Another highlight included producing a documentary shot on location in Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica depicting the war between the Sandanistas and Contras. When Waldman decided to make a transition to feature films, he relocated to Los Angeles and has continued to work non-stop on some of the industry’s most prestigious big-budget projects.
Victor Hadida (Executive Producer)
Zach Shiff-Abrams (Executive Producer)
Schiff-Abrams previously was Vice-President of Development and Production at Scott Free Productions, where he was responsible for advancing the current slate at Scott Free along with acquiring new material for feature and television development. During his four years there, Schiff-Abrams worked on such films as Tristan and Isolde, Kingdom of Heaven, Man on Fire, Matchstick Men and Blackhawk Down as well as the Golden Globe Winning HBO TV Movie, The Gathering Storm.
Schiff-Abrams joined Scott Free after beginning his career at Pressman Films, where he served for five years, most recently as Creative Executive. At Pressman, he worked on such films as American Psycho, Two Girls and a Guy, and The Crow franchise.
Lisa Ellzey (Executive Producer)
While at Scott Free, Ellzey was the executive producer of the Ridley Scott film, Kingdom of Heaven (2005), starring Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, Ed Norton, and Jeremy Irons. Ellzey was also the co-executive producer of The Gathering Storm (2002) for HBO. The film portrayed the life of Winston Churchill and starred Albert Finney and Vanessa Redgrave. Nominated for nine Emmy awards, the film received three: along with Albert Finney (Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie), and Hugh Whitemore (Writing for a Miniseries or Movie), Ellzey took home a statue for the Best Made for Television Movie. In addition, the film received two Golden Globes Awards, including Best Miniseries or Motion Picture, as well as three BAFTA Awards.
In 2002, Ellzey co-executive produced the reality television show “AFP: American Fighter Pilot” for CBS.
Before joining Scott Free, Ellzey was President of Sonnenfeld/Josephson where she was associate producer of The Crew starring Burt Reynolds and Richard Dreyfuss. Prior to that, she was Vice President of Doug Wick’s Red Wagon Productions.
Ellzey began her career by producing a
low budget independent film entitled The Poison Tasters starring French
Stewart, which premiered at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival. Between
shooting the film and its festival screening, she spent three years at
Creative Artists Agency as an assistant in the Motion Pictures Literary
Skip Chaisson (Executive Producer)
Domino marks one of many projects in which Chaisson has worked closely with director Tony Scott to create a visceral, cutting edge form of storytelling. This was most recently realized on the big screen in Man On Fire, for which Skip created the main titles and extensive graphics, and cut several key scenes. As a producer of the new hit show for CBS, “Numb3rs,” with creators Tony and Ridley Scott, in association with Paramount Network Television, Skip created the editorial and graphic palette that characterizes the series. He is also co-executive producing a re-make (based on his original concept) of the cult film, The Warriors, with director Tony Scott for Paramount Pictures and MTV.
In 2001, Chaisson founded Skip Film. In 2002, the Los Angeles Times said, "Skip Chaisson comes as close as you can get to superstar status in the trailer-making industry." Known primarily for a particularly rich visual style, innovative creative technique, and the ability to "solve" difficult marketing challenges, the company continues to grow at a rapid pace. Clients include every major and many independent film studios, as well as music industry clients and major advertising agencies and corporations. It is the agency of choice for Jerry Bruckheimer and Tony and Ridley Scott, as well as many other filmmakers and studios. A partial listing of extensive credits includes creating the main titles for CBS series “Without A Trace,” “Cold Case” and “Century City”; editing BMW Films', The Hire for Fallon; and creating trailers, teasers and TV spots for Kingdom of Heaven, Alien Versus Predator, Matchstick Men, King Arthur, Alexander, Man On Fire, The Fantastic Four, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Bad Boys 2 and Black Hawk Down.
Prior to founding his own company, Chaisson worked for several years establishing his reputation as a highly unusual talent in the film community. He became well-known for his work as a director of special shoots and an editor of clutter-busting theatrical advertising including, Mission Impossible 1 & 2, Braveheart, Titanic, The Truman Show, Pearl Harbor and the highly stylized, Gone In 60 Seconds. This trailer inspired L.A. Times film critic Kenneth Turan to include a highly favorable review of the trailer in his review of the film.
Chaisson is a member of the DGA, and a recipient of numerous Key Art Awards, a Clio, and a Golden Trailer award. He holds black belts in several of the martial arts, and is married and the father of three children.
Richard Kelly (Screenwriter)
Other projects that Kelly has written are House at the End of the Street with director Jonathan Mostow for Universal Pictures, and Ice-Nine, an adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's literary classic Cat’s Cradle for Leonardo Di Caprio's production company, Appian Way.
Kelly is currently writing an adaptation of the non-fiction bestseller In Harm’s Way by Doug Stanton, based on the true account of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis during the final weeks of World War II, for producers Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) and Mark Gordon (Saving Private Ryan).
Kelly recently started his own production company Darko Entertainment with producer Sean McKittrick. They are developing numerous projects, the first of which will be Kelly's highly anticipated second film as a director, Southland Tales, which will begin lensing in Los Angeles in August of 2005.
Steve Barancik (Screenwriter)
Daniel Mindel (Director of Photography)
Mindel was the cinematographer on the upcoming romantic thriller Skeleton Key, starring Kate Hudson and John Hurt, and recently helmed the camera department on Jake Scott’s comedic short film Tooth Fairy, starring Chris Noth. His resume also includes Stuck On You, The Bourne Identity, Killer Pink, Sand and Shanghai Noon.
He began as a camera operator on Ridley Scott’s Thelma & Louise, the television series Red Shoe Diaries and on the feature The Emerald Forest.
Chris Seagers (Production Designer)
His other credits as art director include Saving Private Ryan, for which he was part of the design team that was nominated for the prestigious Art Directors Guild Award for Excellence in Production Design, The Good Thief, The Crying Game and A Kiss Before Dying.
William Goldenberg, A.C.E. (Editor)
Goldenberg most recently served as editor of the hit film National Treasure. His other motion picture editing credits include Kangaroo Jack, Coyote Ugly, Pleasantville, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Alive (co-editor), The Puppet Masters, and the Imax feature The Journey Inside. He also collaborated with editor Michael Kahn (as additional editor or assistant) on Hook, Toy Soldiers, Arachnophobia and Always. In addition, he edited the short film Kangaroo Court, directed by Sean Astin, which was nominated for an Academy Award. For television, he edited the HBO films “Body Language” and Chris Gerolmo’s “Citizen X,” for which he received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Editing for a Miniseries or Special. Goldenberg recently completed the pilot of Gerolmo’s controversial FX series, “Over There.”
John Frazier (Special Effects Producer)
In 1963, Frazier started designing special effects props at the Haunted House nightclub in Hollywood. The owner recognized his aptitude for creativity and got him a job at NBC where he began working in live television. Shortly thereafter, he became the department head for special effects. While at the network, Frazier worked with some of the great entertainers in television including Jerry Lewis, Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Red Skelton, Rowan & Martin and Bob Hope. He also coordinated on the series The F.B.I. and the miniseries Roots and George Washington.
Frazier stayed in his position at NBC until 1970 when he joined Local 44 and started working in special effects for motion pictures. Since that time, he has worked on over 45 feature films including the upcoming Spiderman 2, as well as the hits Bad Boys 2, Tears of the Sun, Windtalkers, Cast Away, Space Cowboys, The Perfect Storm, The Haunting, Hard Rain, Outbreak and many, many more. Currently he is at work on The Island for director Michael Bay.
Frazier has been honored with Academy Award nominations for his work on Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, Speed and Twister. He won the British Academy Award for Twister and two Clio Awards for his work on the Honda “Art Gallery” and Lexus “Ball Bearing Accuracy” television ad campaigns.
Joe Pancake (Special Effects Coordinator)
During the summer of 1983, after graduating from Canyon High School, Pancake applied for a position with studio craft services at MGM where he worked for several years, and went on to handle craft services for the television sitcom Perfect Strangers, as well as the hit series Knots Landing and Dallas.
In 1990 Pancake made the transition from television to motion pictures. Bored with food service, he turned his attention to the exciting and often dangerous world of special effects. He began as a special effects laborer on the movie The Rookie, and quickly realized he had a natural aptitude for the job. Soon after joining the union, Pancake was honing his talents on such feature films as For the Boys, Twister, Outbreak, Speed, Hard Rain, Forces of Nature, The Haunting, The Perfect Storm, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, Windtalkers, Tears of the Sun, Bad Boys 2, Spiderman and the upcoming Spiderman 2. Pancake has also worked on numerous Clint Eastwood films as the special effects set coordinator: Space Cowboys, The Bridges of Madison County and The Garden of Good and Evil, among others. Pancake coordinated the recently released feature film After The Sunset.
Chuck Picerni, Jr. (Stunt Coordinator)
Zeke Unger (Technical Director)
A member of the National Association of Bail Enforcement Agents and the U.S. Professional Bail Bond Investigators, Unger has earned an unparalleled reputation in the field of fugitive apprehension, and has frequently worked alongside agents from the FBI and the U.S. Marshals, as well as being employed by both agencies to train their agents in tracking and apprehension techniques. He has additionally instructed special operations teams across the country, and continues to be in demand as one of the leading experts in his field.
In addition Unger has a lengthy track record with the broadcast media and serves as an expert consultant for CNN on fugitive matters, most recently featured at length in the aftermath of the Andrew Luster case. He has additionally appeared on BBC Radio in similar roles, and has been featured on numerous TV documentaries including Tales Of A Modern Day Bounty Hunter for the Discovery Channel and Suicide Missions, Secret Lives Of Bounty Hunters and Dangerous Jobs for The Learning Channel. He has also contributed to The Robb Report on post 9/11 security issues. Earlier he was recruited by NBC Television to organize and run an emergency protection team for company executives and network stars during the Los Angeles Riots in the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict.
B. (Costume designer)
A Taurus, B. was born & raised in Stockholm. When she was 18, she emigrated from Sweden to Los Angeles where she met many colorful and influential individuals who would shape her destiny in the world of fashion and design. With dedication and hard work she is moving towards her goal as a designer and is happy putting her spin on videos, commercials and films.
Bob Morgan (Costume Supervisor)
Morgan was born in Houston, Texas and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. He studied fine art at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and also at UCLA. He was a clothing designer before entering the film and television business. Morgan continues to work as a fine artist between films and exhibits at galleries in southern California and at his studio in downtown Los Angeles.
Harry Gregson-Williams (Composer)
A native of England, Gregson-Williams learned to read music by the age of 4 and as a child toured Europe as a choir boy with an ensemble from the music school of St. John's College in Cambridge. By age 13 he had been a featured soloist on over a dozen recordings. He went on to study music at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and spent time teaching music to children in Egypt and Kenya before launching his professional career as an orchestrator and arranger for well-known composer Stanley Myers.
He then went on to score Nicolas Roeg's Full Body Massage and Hotel Paradise. Moving to Los Angeles in 1995, he became a protégé of Oscar winner Hans Zimmer and collaborated with him on the scores for Smilla's Sense of Snow starring Julia Ormond, The Whole Wide World starring Renee Zellweger and The Rock starring Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage, among many others.
Gregson-Williams’ upcoming project is Andrew Adamson’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe for Disney.
These production notes can be downloaded as a Microsoft Word document on this page.
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