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THE MEXICAN

About The Production

"Things are seldom what they seem" could sum up the theme of J.H. Wyman's screenplay for "The Mexican." The plot revolves around Jerry, who's been tapped for his last job for a crime boss to whom he was indebted, and his girlfriend, Samantha, who considers Jerry's last job her last straw and leaves him. In telling the story, Wyman sent Jerry and his girlfriend on two separate but interwoven journeys, which are equally unpredictable. "Nothing happens as you would think," Wyman affirms.

The surprising nature of the script was what first drew producer John Baldecchi to the project. "It's really deceptive. On one level, it's kind of a romp, but when you get into it, you find there's a lot more going on," Baldecchi notes, adding, "The story is split. These two characters start the movie together and end the movie together, but it's the influences along their diverging paths that make their individual stories so interesting. It's really like two different races, each with its own obstacles—completely separate, but at the same time, tied together."

Baldecchi gave the script to his producing partner Lawrence Bender, who recalls, "I read it and thought it was one of those interesting movies that only comes along every once in a while. It has an intricate plot with an ensemble of interesting characters, who are all dealing with some sort of relationship issue. It was just a smart, edgy, contemporary comedy."

The producers set out to find a director with the strong sense of story and character the project required, but who could also bring a distinct visual style to the film. They found the right combination in Gore Verbinski, who had earned praise for his directorial debut film "Mouse Hunt."

"I remembered 'Mouse Hunt' being just a lot of fun, but with a unique visual style," says Bender. "Gore has a terrific eye and works wonderfully with actors. When we met with him, he understood the different themes of the movie, and conveyed how he would follow the intertwining threads of the story as they took off in different directions. I just felt really lucky to have him at the helm."

The parallel storylines of "The Mexican" were among the aspects of the screenplay that appealed to Gore Verbinski. The director remarks, "I loved the interlocking storylines of Jerry and Samantha and all the complicated characters that cross their paths. The Mexico and Las Vegas locations really excited me, and I knew I could have fun with the look, the color, and the atmosphere of the film.. especially as we flashed back to tell the conflicting legends that explain how the pistol that gives the film its name came to be cursed. At its heart the film is a romantic comedy.. .but with a little bit of Sam Peckinpah," adds Verbinski, smiling.

Interestingly, the filmmakers first envisioned "The Mexican" as a modest film with relative unknowns in the lead roles. That vision was eclipsed when the script attracted two of the most popular and sought-after stars in the industry today: Brad Pitt stars as Jerry Welbach and Julia Roberts stars opposite him as Samantha Barzel.

The pairing was a happy circumstance for the two actors, who had expressed a mutual desire to work together a number of times over the years. "We'd run into each other many times, and had always flirted with the idea, but it never worked out. This one came together and it just fit," Pitt says. "It was the right chemistry."

"I've known Brad for a long time," Roberts adds, "and we had almost worked together a few times, so when this finally happened, we both got so excited. We're really comfortable around each other, so from the first day, we were able to get the most out of the limited amount of time we had together onscreen. We came up with this whole back story about our characters to find interesting ways to conv

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