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Alejandro Amenabar's 1997 Spanish romantic thriller, "Abre Los Ojos," became the catalyst for "Vanilla Sky." Producer Paula Wagner says the film appealed to her, Tom Cruise and Cameron Crowe, and it offered an opportunity for them to work together again.

"We saw 'Abre Los Ojos' separately and together," Wagner notes, "and we all knew that this was the right project. To us, 'Vanilla Sky' is the equivalent of doing a cover to a great song. We pay homage to the film, but we also hope to bring our own nuances and interpretations to it.

"What I wanted to do with "Vanilla Sky" was to take people on a modern, emotional journey," says Crowe, "I think people go to the movies to be transported, and this film gently guides you to a bizarre and passionate place in your heart. We constructed the movie, visually and story-wise, to reveal more and more the closer you look at it. As deep as you want to go with it, my desire was for the movie to meet you there."

Wagner feels certain that 'Vanilla Sky' lives up to not only the filmmaker's expectations, but that it will also live up to the audience's.

"This film pushes the edges," she says. "It breaks the mold of conventional filmmaking, while at the same time, it is very accessible, warm and emotional. There are many elements and layers to it, and at the end, you realize something more about the truth of life."

Indeed, 'Wanilla Sky" pushes the envelope in many ways. In fact, Crowe adds that he also wanted to take a deeper look into the meaning of love and sex in the new millennium, and that "Abre Los Ojos" was a catalyst to exploring this very rich topic.

"I wanted to do a movie about the world of casual sex and about young adults taking responsibility for their lives," Crowe explains. "'Abre Los Ojos,' inspired me to make my own statement. It was like a perfect kind of Petri dish to explore all this stuff. Hopefully we've created a cool dialogue with Amenabar's original movie."

To that end, Wagner likens Crowe's directorial style to that of a conductor leading a symphony. "Cameron orchestrated 'Vanilla Sky' beautifully," she says. "It was his vision. He put in all the players, all the notes and all the tones, and every performance has been finely tuned."

But an actor's performance is only as good as the dialogue he or she has to work with, and "Vanilla Sky," like all of Crowe's screenplays, is laced with dialogue so memorable that much of it stays with viewers long after the film is over.

"Somehow, Cameron has the ability to sum up a human experience in a single line," muses Wagner, who adds that while "Vanilla Sky" marks Crowe's first screenplay to be adapted from an existing film, the writer/director had a singular vision about the material from the start.

"It's a romantic thriller about the search for the eternal nature of love," Wagner says. "It's emotional, it's humorous, but it's also a thrill ride as the character David Aames uncovers eternal truths about love, himself and the world. Cameron had a deep connection to the story and the characters."

As excited, as Crowe was about the film itself, he was equally as enthusiastic about working again with Tom Cruise.

"Tom is a gift to any director," says Crowe. "He brings a kind of emotional center to anything he does, and in our movie he makes David Aames every man so the audience can iden tify with him. Tom captures real life. He puts everything you want to express in a script on the screen and he works tirelessly until you're happy."

In turn, Cruise had nothing but praise for Crowe, as well as for the film itself.

"I think "Vanilla Sky" is terrific, and a definite credit to Cameron's storytelling." Cruise says. "He's a brilliant writer, a brilliant director, and he's<

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