MURDER BY NUMBERS
The Creative Team
"Murder by Numbers" was initially conceived by producer Richard Crystal. Crystal had always been fascinated by the historic 1924 Leopold & Loeb case. The case involved two intelligent young men, who concocted a murder/kidnap scheme, as an elaborate game to get away with the "perfect" crime.
The film was put into development with writer Tony Gayton hired to write the screenplay. Gayton had previously written Castle Rock's upcoming "The Salton Sea." Gayton brought the project into focus when he introduced Cassie Mayweather, the tenacious homicide detective, as the central character. This brought a modern element and point of view to the telling of the story.
"As the project developed, the layers of the story began to build," says Crystal. "It becomes a real cat and mouse game between Cassie and the young men. It's like watching a chess match."
Academy Award®-nominated director Barbet Schroeder and his longtime producing partner Susan Hoffman were enlisted. Schroeder was filming "Our Lady of the Assassins" in Medellin, Columbia. Hoffman was working on "The Believer," directed and written by Henry Bean and starring Ryan Gosling, when she read the script for "Murder by Numbers."
"There are many 'pretty OK' scripts in Hollywood," Hoffman explains, "but because it takes at least a year of your life, we look for a challenging and unusual project. 'Murder by Numbers' was unusual. We liked the basic story and the possibility of really developing the psychological part of the story."
"Like many people, I am intrigued by the Leopold and Loeb story," says Schroeder, "but I was most interested in developing the current events aspect of Richard and Justin's story. Having a complex female protagonist, who is also a master at the kind of police science that did not exist in the time of Leopold and Loeb, brings a whole new level of mind games, as well as making this undeniably a story of today."
Hoffman says, "Our inspirational references were more contemporary: Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and also the Dartmouth murders of 2000 where two young men killed two college professors primarily for the thrill."
"I think that Barbet likes to make films that pay respect to all the characters in the film," says Hoffman. "And these boys are pretty tragic figures. They're sort of the bad guys in the movie, but somehow you feel for them. And he also loves female protagonists. He's much happier when the person driving the film is female. The film had everything for him, really appealing bad guys, a very formidable female lead, and psychological material."
Sandra Bullock, having just produced and starred in Castle Rock's hit comedy "Miss Congeniality," was interested in working on a psychological thriller that offered a great puzzle.
Bullock describes her character as "a detective, who up to this point has performed her job without complication, finds herself becoming emotionally attached to this new case and to the woman who was murdered which causes concern in the department and threatens the case
For Schroeder, Sandra Bullock was the perfect choice for Cassie Mayweather. "It was very exciting to offer Sandra Bullock a part bringing back to life the tradition of the complex tough ladies of the 40's, making the vulnerable side of Cassie that much more moving."
"Barbet has an understanding of, and is very comfortable with, the uncomfortable," says Sandra Bullock. "A psychological thriller is so much what you don't say and what you don't show, and how you set the camera and what you allow the actor to show. Barbet's very specific about how he wanted things played out. He has that sense of the dark that I think really lends itself to a story like this."
A new homicide detective, playe
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