About The Production
Producer Lawrence Gordon optioned Gene Brewer's l995 novel right after he read it, feeling that the story of Prot and his experiences struck a universal chord.
"This story reminded me somewhat of Field of Dreams, which I also produced," Gordon said. "Both stories are about passionate men who go against conventional behavior simply because they believe in something, as improbable as it might seem to others. And both stories contain rich, memorable characters that are hard to find in most of today's scripts."
Gordon hired writer Charles Leavitt to adapt
the novel. "We ended up with an excellent screenplay and it still took six years to get the film made," Gordon said, acknowledging the unconventional nature of the subject matter. "But once Kevin Spacey saw the script and became interested in playing Prot, the project moved forward more quickly."
Said Spacey: "I actually read the script some years ago, while I was in London, doing a play, and I remember sitting on my bed one night and reading it. I don't want to know the character they want me to look at when I read a script; I just like to read it as a story. I thought it was a great script and that Prot was a wonderful character. It took time for other parts of the project to fall in place, but it was worth the wait."
Spacey, who received his second Academy Award® (and first as Best Actor) for his riveting performance in American Beauty, was drawn to the implacable conviction of the mysterious Prot.
"I fell in love with Prot — the character is just beautiful," the actor said. "He's placed in the world of this mental institution, and the story is, on some level, about what happens when you encounter a stranger who has some rather extraordinary effect on all the other people around him.
"What's important about Prot was not just what he says, but how he says it," Spacey continued. "He has a calming presence and an odd ability to bring out honesty in people. They say that the line between sanity and insanity can be a very thin one, and I think there are lots of people who believe that aliens from other planets live among us. There's even
a television show based on that very idea. Prot just lives it without
Director lain Softley came on board next. "I found both the story and the characters totally compelling and I couldn't resist becoming involved," he said. "It was really one of the best scripts that I'd read, and quite distinguished in that it was difficult to predict the story's outcome from the early pages. And when I heard that Kevin Spacey was lined up to play Prot, I thought this couldn't be cast any better."
The character of Dr. Mark Powell, the eminently logical and pragmatic psychiatrist, is played by Jeff Bridges, who has earned Oscar® nominations for his roles in Starman, The Last Picture Show, Thunderbolt and Light foot and The Contender. Having previously played an extra-terrestrial in Starman, Bridges found himself on the other side of the equation in
"I think what's popular now in psychiatry is medication," Bridges noted, "and there are certainly good things that can be done with medication. But the interaction with the patients isn't used as much as it used to be. When medications don't seem to have too much effect on this particular fellow, who claims to be an alien, it intrigues my character and makes him more interested, both in his work and in his life."
Director Softley observed about Prot: "What makes Prot a strange character is his very normality. His stories about
K-PAX seem un sensational even though they are very appealing. Whether Prot is mad or enlightened, he has a
profound effect on the doctor and the patients he comes into contact with. As the story unfolds, both versions of Prot's story emerge<
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