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BIG TROUBLE

Casting The Film
With 14 major roles to cast, Sonnenfeld, Jacobson and Josephson set about populating the Miami of "Big Trouble."

"I've always felt that the best way to do a comedy is without comedians," says Sonnenfeld. "In the case of ‘Get Shorty,' what made the movie funny was really smart people in really weird situations playing out the reality of that situation. And that was also much the case in ‘Big Trouble.' I wanted the movie to be populated mainly by people that you would not necessarily equate with a comedy but are just really good actors.

"My sense of humor is such that I never tell the audience where the joke is," he continues. "I want them to discover the joke for themselves. Let the audience be ahead of the movie, so they can elbow their neighbor and say, ‘He's going to fall into the pond.'"

For the lead role of Eliot Arnold, the everyday guy drawn up into an escalating series of events, Sonnenfeld's initial choice was Tim Allen. "Tim came on pretty early," he says, "and he's great. He really centers the movie – he's charming and emotional."

Like the rest of the ensemble cast, Allen was drawn immediately to the material and to the opportunity to work with director Barry Sonnenfeld. "We have the same sensibilities, comedy-wise," Allen notes. "That's sometimes the way I relate to people when I first meet them, and from minute one, we got along. He's really very good at taking these separate people whose lives crisscross at one point and have it all make sense and be very funny. He weaves the plot together very well."

Rene Russo, who starred in "Get Shorty" for Sonnenfeld, was game from the beginning, especially when Sonnenfeld said to her, "‘you'll get to have big breasts and wear pedal pushers.' That's how he got me to do the movie," she laughs. "The blonde hair was my idea."

Kidding aside, she adds, "I knew Barry would put his magic on it. He knows how to rein us all in, and then give us space, and that's not easy to do."

Stanley Tucci, who plays the shady businessman Arthur Herk, said "I laughed out loud, the first time I read the script. It's a very dark, bizarre look at American values." He describes Herk as someone who "torments people with his asinine selfish behavior."

Because of Herk's illegal business dealings, he becomes a target for his enemies, "and from there on," Tucci says, "everything falls apart. And that happens pretty quickly at the beginning of the picture."

Tucci, who is also an acclaimed director, appreciates working in an ensemble. "If you get the right group of people, you establish this wonderful trust with each other, and particularly in a comedy, you can go quite far and still be sort of safe. I think it's also enormously satisfying for the audience."

Tucci also credits Sonnenfeld as being a "meticulous" director. "His composition is pretty extraordinary. Having been a great cinematographer, he brings that visual sense to his work. He uses lenses to help tell the story, more than most directors do. Even though there may be something very ridiculous going on in the frame, the composition of that frame is stunning and sophisticated. He's also very careful to always maintain the reality of the situation, even though it's something absurd. It makes the movie smart. I think that's important."

Tom Sizemore, who plays the moronic criminal Snake, admires Sonnenfeld for his intelligence as much as his humor. "It's nice to work with somebody who knows what is funny," Sizemore says. "This is a part that's very different from most of the parts I've played. It's very comedic, almost slapstick." The burly actor, who is known more for his intense portrayals of anguished charact

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