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
"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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