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About The Production
"I was once walking around Chicago in a really bad neighborhood and in the midst of some really illegible gang graffiti, somebody had written 'Ghost World' very clearly on a garage," explains Daniel Clowes, creator of the underground comic book that formed the basis for Terry Zwigoff's film. "I thought at the time that there was really something sort of beautiful about that. I had no idea if it was taken from a song or if it was something that somebody just made up, but it struck me as having a really evocative, poetic quality. I had been thinking of this story at the time and it just stuck in my head.

"It had so many levels of meaning to me," adds Clowes. "The America we live in is disappearing, bulldozed under our feet and constantly rehabbed and remodeled. It also refers more personally to the characters and the friendships that they've lost."

Having a similar take on the decline of western civilization, director Zwigoff and producer Lianne Halfon, executive producer on Crumb, approached Clowes about collaborating on the project. "Culture is declining all around the world; it's just happening sooner here in America than, say, Europe where they have deeper traditions," he says. "One of the reasons I wanted to shoot in California is because it's happening the fastest here and it looks like anyplace in modern America - just one big happy strip mall filled with Gaps and Starbucks and Burger Kings. This is part of Enid's dilemma - to find something authentic to connect with in this modern monoculture."

"I think the title refers to the world in which these characters live - it could be Anytown, USA - that is slowly being taken over by malls and cappuccino places," says Steve Buscemi. "The town is starting to lose its character and become a ghost of what it used to be."

In developing the screenplay for their celluloid Ghost World, Zwigoff and Clowes formed a great working relationship and worked closely together throughout the making of the film. "I guess most screenwriters aren't allowed anywhere near the set, so I feel fortunate to have been afforded this opportunity," says Clowes. "I wanted to be there to help in any way I could. I wouldn't have missed it for the world." Clowes was able to serve as a consultant throughout the entire process, contributing his unique visual and verbal skills to every phase of production.

After the two year process of adaptation, Halfon brought the screenplay to her partners Russ Smith and John Malkovich at Mr. Mudd. Together with Zwigoff and Clowes they turned their attention to finding the right cast to bring their vision of contemporary life to the screen.

Thora Birch was a natural for Enid. "She's a very accomplished actress - smart and sensitive and fearless," says Zwigoff. "She somehow also got the wacky, goofy side of the character, and not with much help from me, I'm afraid."

Playing Enid's best friend Rebecca is 15-year-old Scarlett Johansson, playing an 18-year-old character. "Scarlett's 15, going on 35 - wise beyond her years," notes Zwigoff. "She is a very natural actress and instinctively captured Rebecca's character. Very cool and reserved, but also a bit of a weirdo - rather peculiar and odd in a subtle way, so it worked out really well."

"Scarlett is such a terrific young actress with such charisma," says Daniel Clowes. "And they have a great chemistry, the two of them, and became friends right as we started filming. They're very close, almost as close as the two characters."

There was never any doubt who should be Seymour, and Zwigoff haunted Steve Buscemi until he signed on to play the role. "I never thought of Seymour as a loser, which is how every studio we talked t

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