About The Casting
So much on-screen energy depends upon that elusive and impossible-to-fully-define something that exists between actors: chemistry. "Whether you're saying the lines as written or whether you're improvising or ad-libbing," says Robert De
Niro, speaking from years of experience with both drama and comedy, "when you get the rhythm of the person you're interacting with that makes the whole thing easier."
In what the producers call a bit of unbelievable good luck, both Robert De Niro and
Eddie Murphy wanted to be part of the film and their casting for the lead roles couldn't have
been more appropriate. "Bob and Eddie have wanted to work together for a long time," says
Rosenthal, who is De Niro's partner in both Tribeca Productions and the New York-based
Tribeca Film Center. "This was truly inspired casting."
With De Niro and Murphy signed on during the development process, the filmmakers found the characters of Mitch and Trey redefined in subtle ways.
Saralegui explains, "When we started out we imagined Mitch as more of a Dirty Harry type, more out of control and more bad-tempered. But Bob has such presence and
maturity that you don't easily visualize him out of control. So the character became someone who is really good at his job and maybe has moments of being out of control but is primarily a no-nonsense kind of guy who has a certain way he likes things done and loathes interference."
DeNiro brings to his character the experience of more than 30 years of genuine celebrity status. This is a man who certainly knows what it's like to have a camera in his face. "It's something I understand to some extent because there are times when I'll be followed by the media or by people who are curious," he explains. "It's not as intrusive as what's depicted in the film, but still, it's the awareness that you're being watched."
De Niro particularly enjoyed the way Showtime skewered the genre's tried-and-true
cliches, such as "the buddy cop thing, the arguing, all those little contrivances, plus the way they set up the partnership when the show was conceived with the programming exec saying 'let's go with a minority type' to cover all his bases." At the same time, he acknowledges, "the goal was to make it as real as we could, in many ways. The humor is broad, but at its core there has to be a real story and characters that are human."
On working with Eddie Murphy, De Niro says "I've worked with some comedians who are
'on' all the time. Eddie is not one of those guys. He's more serious. It's not always a night at the improv with him on the set." But did they have fun? "Oh yeah -- are you kidding? -- Absolutely!"
Of course, that all depends upon your definition. "I don't have fun making movies," says Murphy, in mock seriousness. "It's work making a movie. I was hanging from things and jumping over stuff all day. Fun is Disneyland, and swimming, and things like that."
But," he adds earnestly, "this was definitely a pleasant experience. I've been on shows where it's quiet or cold or there's someone on the set
who's ruining it for everybody, and I've been on great shoots like this where everyone is working together. Bob was such a gentleman, Rene is truly a sweet lady, Tom is a smart, talented director, the studio was excited about the movie and I was truly excited about working with the people I was working with. When you have all that going on, it's really a pleasure."
"The interesting aspect of having Eddie Murphy in the film," says
Saralegui, "is that he pretty much single-handedly created the archetype of the wisecracking cop as Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop and also in 48 Hours (though technically he wasn't a legitimate
member of the force in that one). So in writing the character you can't but help to go where Eddie has
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