About The Production
Producers Michael Birnbaum and
Michele Berk developed the idea for Bandits, then Birnbaum worked with
screenwriter Harley Peyton to develop the script. All immediately knew they had
something special on their hands.
Academy AwardÂ®-winning director Barry Levinson found the script for Bandits
appealing "because it was an interesting romantic comedy with a real
energy. There was motion and momentum, and at the same time there were some
Levinson adds, "I particularly liked the idea of two guys with this one
woman. I think the one thing that stood out in my mind was Kate saying she
couldn't choose between one man or the other, because ultimately they made the
perfect man. I thought it was an interesting concept."
Attracted by Bandits script, Bruce Willis was the first major talent to sign on
to the project. He was attached for over a year before filming began.
Eventually, three of today's most talented and popular stars were assembled:
Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, and Cate Blanchett - a truly stellar cast. Each a
powerful force in their own right, the combined strength of the actors
immediately became apparent.
When the subject of his cast comes up, Levinson says, "I think there are a
number of surprises in this film. I don't think I've seen Billy Bob this way
before, and I've certainly never seen Cate playing this kind of character, which
is miles away from Elizabeth. As for Bruce, it's not that he hasn't done comedic
or romantic pieces, but I think this is comedic and romantic, yet Joe is also a
tough character - it's a good combination."
Working with Levinson was a privilege felt by everyone on the set. Says
screenwriter Peyton, "Many directors, when they film comedies, put quotes
around the jokes and quotes around the big emotional moments. They hammer them.
Barry approaches it in a way that's real. One of the first things Bruce Willis
said to me when I first came to the set was that the movie felt great to him
because there was such reality to it."
"Also," Peyton adds, "when you have actors at the top of their
game and Barry leading them through it, it becomes incredible. They're all so
funny and so smart about their characters. The script is not only supported -
it's made better."
Levinson enjoys working with actors, and is open to improvisation and looking
for a spark of inspiration from his players and the parameters of a scene.
"I experiment all the time," explains Levinson. "I'm constantly
seeing what else I can bring out in the course of any given scene. A lot of
times there are mistakes, and from those you begin to evolve a scene, and it
changes from what it originally was. Filmmaking is a process of discovery, and
there's always room for the unexpected to take place within the framework of a
Bruce Willis' Joe is the handsome hero-type for whom things always seem to turn
out okay, even if he himself doesn't do much to make it that way. Peyton says,
"Joe doesn't have much self-awareness and he's not given to a great deal of
reflection. He's certainly not someone who thinks a great deal."
Thornton's Terry is the exact opposite. Terry thinks things through to a
neurotic extent. The world is always a puzzle that he's trying to solve and he
rarely solves it to his satisfaction, so he's a bundle of phobias. It's the kind
of character Thornton excels at playing, and Levinson knew he was perfect for
"This script was one that I wished I had written," says Billy Bob
Thornton, himself an Academy AwardÂ®-winning screenwriter. "My first
thought was 'What a perfect part to play and what a perfect movie to be in.'
Sometimes when you read a script, you think, 'Wow, this is pretty broad.' But
this is a realistic movie. There is hilarity in this sc
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