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MOONLIGHT MILE

Casting The Film
Set in New England in the early 1970s, the unlikely love story revolves around a young man (Gyllenhaal) who finds himself lingering in the family home of his fiancee after her untimely death. While grieving along with her parents (Hoffman and Sarandon) and drawn into the legal issues presented by a district attorney (Holly Hunter) seeking justice for the family, Joe falls in love with another woman (Ellen Pompeo), against his best intentions.

Silberling didn't let his cast's phenomenal talent —three Academy Award® winners, 15 nominations — faze him one bit. "I challenged them all — I wanted them all to bring their Oscars® and put them on the craft service table one day. I thought they would have been very impressive by the guacamole," he laughs.

Seriously, he acknowledges, "As a director, you have to make a decision early on — you have to cut yourself a break and decide that it was your sensibility which they obviously responded to on the page to begin with, so why not trust that it will continue, that you're coming in with a degree of mutual respect? You have to ask yourself, ‘Why not? Why shouldn't I get a chance to do this?'

"In my head, I wrote for two people: Susan Sarandon and Dustin Hoffman," Silberling explains. "My dream was to put them together. I began writing specifically for them, their rhythms and mannerisms. When they both signed on, my dream was fulfilled."

Hoffman plays Ben Floss, a commercial realtor who is drawn into work and intends to follow through on a plan to have Joe join the family business, despite the death of his daughter, Joe's fiancee. "He's in complete denial," says Hoffman of his character. "On some level, he chooses not to deal with the grieving part, almost to deny that it happened.

"Among other things, it's a story about parents who are not fully developed emotionally," Hoffman continues. "At least, Ben isn't. What often happens is that as children grow up, parents can't bear with the changes. They know how to relate to their children as children, but once they grow up, they don't know what to do."

"He's putting on a Yankee can-do attitude," says Mark Johnson. "At this stage, Ben is a guy who desperately wants to be the rock of Gibraltar, but he really isn't. He's letting Gelusil and Maalox take care of his pain."

Unsuccessful as both a businessman and a father, Ben has much to cope with, even before his daughter's death. "He can't deal with that, so he tries to replace her with her fianc&" Hoffman says. "He comes to believe that the entire town has turned against him, but what has really happened, unconsciously, is that he has turned against the town.

"JoJo, on the other hand, is just out there," Johnson continues. "She uses humor and sarcasm as her release. She's in mourning, so she's allowed to say and do anything she wants. In their regular life, I think JoJo and Ben have great, noisy fights, but she adores him. I think they're wildly in love with each other."

Silberling agrees, "JoJo and Ben have an incredible marriage, a very passionate relationship. JoJo is complete, unbridled Truth — at least, she likes to believe so. She's c

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