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About The Production (Continued)
Casting director Marcia Ross and her team from Disney Casting were hired to fill the seemingly tall order in finding the "perfect kid." They conducted a nationwide talent search encompassing all of North America and Canada, with open casting calls held in eleven major cities across the country from New York to Los Angeles. Listings were also posted at every major talent agency and management company, generating more than 2,000 taped submissions of possible young actors for the role.

Spencer Breslin first auditioned for the part in New York City and was initially told he was too young, as the script originally called for a 10-year-old boy to play the part of the kid.

"When Marcia first told me about Spencer, my first reaction was that he was just too young," says Turteltaub. "There is a huge difference in an eight-year-old kid, and how he sees himself and the world, and a 10-year-old. I wanted to stick to the script."

However, after reviewing his audition tape once again, casting director Marcia Ross decided to go ahead and arrange a meeting for Spencer to meet with Turteltaub and the film's producers on their next trip to New York. "There was just something really special about Spencer," insisted Ross. "Even though I knew he was much too young for the role, I could not get him out of my mind. My gut told me that I should at least have him meet Jon and the other filmmakers in person to see if they would have the same reaction once they met him face-to-face."

Sure enough, that first meeting in New York was one that none of them would ever forget. "I think what was so special about Spencer was that he immediately made Jon laugh and usually, it's Jon making everyone else laugh," says Steinberg. "Spencer was so funny, crazy and hilarious. He came running in with his ‘Batman' toys and did these dead-on impressions of Austin Powers and Dr. Evil that were just hysterical!"

"My first impression of Spencer was that he was a nut!" jokes Turteltaub. "But he had no shyness and was so creative and imaginative. But the key was that he laughed at my jokes. When I had Spencer's Batman and Wolverine figurines kissing each other, he was howling. I knew that if I didn't cast him, I had to at least hang out with this guy. He was hilarious."

The feeling seemed mutual. According to 8-year-old Breslin, he wasn't nervous at all, and connected with Turteltaub instantly. "I brought in my ‘Batman' toys to the audition and Jon and I started playing with them. It was really cool."

"What was great about Spencer, and what is great about his character in this movie is that he is completely unselfconscious. He didn't really care that he was meeting for a role with a big director and didn't really seem to put any weight on it," comments Steinberg. "It was just like ‘this is who I am' and he had such a distinct personality, just his gestures and phrases, and his little lisps, he really became Rusty. He brought so much life to the role with these specific qualities that belong to Spencer and that no other kid would ever have."

"The minute we met Spencer, we were drawn to him," says producer Hunt Lowry. "It became obvious that it was much more important to find someone with the right qualities, rather than someone who was the right age, or simply just resembled Bruce as a young boy."

Screenwriter Audrey Wells agrees<

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