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ROAD TO PERDITION

Fathers And Sons
The central character of "Road to Perdition" is Michael Sullivan, played by two-time Academy Award® winner Tom Hanks. Hanks had learned of the project early on when Steven Spielberg gave him the graphic novel even before there was a screenplay, telling him it was a great read. Hanks agreed and asked to see a script when it was done.

Hanks comments that one of the things that initially intrigued him about the story was its unpredictability. "I thought this would be the kind of genre movie that would be very familiar to me, but three pages into it, I didn't know where I was or what was going to happen next. I remember thinking that here is this movie that should be predictable but is utterly unpredictable. That, coupled with the realities of what it was going to take to make this period piece, I wondered who they could get to do it justice. It turned out to be Sam Mendes. Chatting with him, I knew we would be in the hands of someone who could tell the story the way it needed to be told."

Mendes has no less admiration for the actor, noting, "How can you not admire Tom Hanks? He's an amazing actor, but what's even better than having a great actor is having a great actor who's never before done what the part is asking of him. Michael Sullivan is a very dark, very mysterious man, and not at all accessible to the audience, at least initially. He is someone who carries with him a sense of guilt and regret for the life he has led, but this regret is never stated; it is just felt and seen. What Tom is able to convey in silence is extraordinary, but then, that would be my definition of a great screen actor."

Though Michael Sullivan is something of an enigma to the audience, Hanks' insight into his character began before he ever stepped into the role. "While I was reading this, I actually thought of the verse from The Bible that says, ‘he who sows the wind shall reap the whirlwind,' and that's what happens to Sullivan. He's married, the father of two, and has one of the bigger houses in town…and it's been paid for with fear, intimidation, violence and blood. Now he's in the midst of something he should have known was coming, but somehow he was able to block out the reality of his world and believe it would have no consequences, and, of course, finally it does. At the moment we're dropped into the story, it is literally the last day of that false perspective."

That being said, Hanks is clear that, despite any illusions Sullivan might have held, "I think he very much understands the times in which he lives and how he ended up doing what he does for a living: working for Mr. Rooney, the man who saved his life, probably before he was even conscious that his life needed saving. Therein lies the examination of our fathers, which is no small part of this story. Mr. Rooney is a father figure to Sullivan. Sullivan wants to emulate him, while at the same time, he fears him. Young Michael, Jr. feels the same about his father. This movie is about that moment when the truth is revealed, when you see the flaw in the man you considered to be your father. How do you deal with it? Is it the shattering of your world, or the beginning of a new understanding of the failures we as human beings all have? Does it draw you closer to the man you viewed as the reason you're in the world, or does it drive you away from that person who is responsible for who you are? It's fascinating stuff."

The father and son aspect of the story was also compelling to the man who portrays Mr. John Rooney, Oscar®-winning screen legend Paul Newman. However, as the patriarch of the family, Newman's perspective was that of<

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