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THE GIFT

About The Production

As dark and tense as the story may appear to be at times, director Sam Raimi saw The Gift as a loving, sweet film rich with genuine characters like Annie Wilson.

"Annie has to make a living for her kids, and it is very difficult because there are a lot of people who distrust her. They don't have open minds toward her psychic abilities, or they perceive her as a witch," says Raimi. "In fact, the opposite is true. Annie is the heart and soul of this little community. She reaches out to these people and helps them. She is the binding thread that pulls this community together."

The Gift was born when Paramount Classics' Ruth Vitale gave the script to producer Tom Rosenberg, and he was instantly sold. "I said, 'I'm not just interested-I'm going to do it," he remembers. Rosenberg began developing the project with producer Jim Jacks, who was attached to the project from its inception through his friend and writer Billy Bob Thornton.

"Billy Bob told me about this script five or six years ago," recalls Jacks. "When I made my overall deal with Paramount, one of the things I specifically asked for was the ability to try to put it together."

The project was full steam ahead once Sam Raimi came on board to direct. Raimi brought to the table a valued combination of being an actor's director with mainstream accessibility. "Sam has an intuitive gift for creating new camera angles. He is savvy with the camera, and he knows where to put it to help the actors. Great actors really like working with him," explains producer Jim Jacks.

"Sam's skill with a story and the camera is just remarkable," says Rosenberg. "He is also a complete gentleman. He sets a tone for all the cast and crew of complete professionalism."

Rosenberg also felt that hiring Raimi benefited the film in another essential way. "I felt that Sam would attract great actors to work with him."

The producer was right. The casting of "actor's actor" and Oscar nominee Cate Blanchett in the role of Annie, the film's protagonist, was a coup. "Cate really embodies the role one hundred percent," says Raimi. "She has a great understanding of drama in general, and is able to look outside of the performance in the way that directors or writers can. She also happens to be a great actress."

Says Blanchett of her character: "Annie is misunderstood by many of the people around her, but she ultimately proves to be their salvation. Annie is a cross between a social worker and a psychic. Because, in some ways, she's not living her own life, she's opened herself up to bear everyone else's problems."

"She's got an enormous sense of guilt because she feels responsible for the fact that she couldn't stop her husband's death. Annie has to actually come to terms with the fact of why she has survived," elaborates Blanchett. "I think that all the people who Annie encounters are troubled by something, but she's a single mother with three boys and doesn't have time to deal with it. That compounds her sense of guilt."

To prepare for and understand her role as a psychic, Blanchett explored foreign territory. "I'm the sort of person who doesn't want to know what's going to happen in the future, so I had never actually been to a psychic or had my cards or palm read. I had to bite the bullet and go to a lot of different psychics and mediums, which was really an amazing experience. Most of the psychics I spoke to said that their ability is a gift they wa

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