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CHANGING LANES

About The Story
"Changing Lanes" marks the American directorial debut of Roger Michell, the award-winning British director whose 1999 romantic comedy "Notting Hill" garnered worldwide accolades from both audiences and critics alike. "Changing Lanes" also marks the screenwriting debut of Chap Taylor who, along with Academy Award®-nominated screenwriter Michael Tolkin ("The Player"), grabbed Michell's attention with their dynamic script.

"The script immediately captured my imagination," says the director. "It's about a chance meeting between two men that spins them out of their orbits, causing them to behave in irrational, strange and violent ways. You just don't expect the steps these guys will take to get at each other."

Academy Award® winner Ben Affleck stars as 29-year-old Gavin Banek, an attorney on the fast track who appears to have everything -- a beautiful wife, a Mercedes and a yacht on the way. But all of that is threatened when his law firm involves him in an ethically questionable case, and Gavin is troubled by moral questions he's never had to face before.

For Affleck, the role proved to be the kind of challenge he was waiting for. "A script like this makes you work harder and demands more thought," says the actor. "You're required to think a little bit more about your own experiences and the emotional weight that you bring to a project. I think it makes me a better actor to continually challenge and push myself, and Roger

Michell has been so helpful. Without him, my performance wouldn't have been half of what it is. He's been a wonderful gift to this film."

Affleck first received the script for "Changing Lanes" while filming "Pearl Harbor" and read it in the midst of that production's exploding bombs and nonstop action.

"I was sitting on the deck of an aircraft carrier reading the script, and it was a real page-turner," remembers Affleck. "It struck me as honest in the way that it detailed how people fall apart. What was especially appealing was that it's different from what I've done before. It isn't about some grand event, it isn't of historical or political importance, and it isn't an epic tale. But it is a very personal story of two men coming unraveled. I felt it would afford me the chance to do the kind of acting that I haven't had the opportunity to do until now."

In developing a backstory for his character, Affleck imagined that Gavin Banek had originally been a very passionate, idealistic law student. But after a few years with such a cutthroat firm as Arnell, Delano and Strauss, his high ideals slowly eroded, and without his realizing it, Gavin's integrity is compromised. "Institutions can take the humanity away from people," observes Affleck. "Sometimes moral integrity gets sacrificed to keep the wheels turning."

As complex a character as Gavin Banek is, his counterpart, Doyle Gipson, portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson, is equally intriguing. A recovering alcoholic, whose wife is trying to take his children away from him, Doyle is a tormented man who sees what's most important to him slipping away. In casting the role, Michell was convinced that Jackson could portray the beleaguered Doyle with the empathy the character required.

"Sam is obviously a wonderful, wonderful actor," says Michell. "A lot of his films, like 'Shaft,' 'Jackie Brown' or 'Pulp Fiction,' portray him as very hip and very cool, but this is an uncool role. I mean, this guy Doyle isn't hip, he's the reverse of hip. He's awkward and clumsy. He's a guy who just doesn't fit in."

Jackson agrees, adding that he rarely sees scripts depicting characters that are as square as Doyle Gipson is.

"Doyle is the anonymous one we pass on the street and pay no attention to," Jackson observes. "He's got the nondescript suit, the ordinary haircut and regular gl

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