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25TH HOUR

About The Film
"I like the idea of a film taking place over a 24-hour period,” says director Spike Lee. After previously exploring a story that takes place over a single day in his Academy Award®-nominated screenplay "Do the Right Thing,” Lee sought to expand on the device.

The idea originated with David Benioff's acclaimed novel, published in 2001. Before the publication of the novel, Benioff's book was optioned by Industry Entertainment and Tobey Maguire. Producer Julia Chasman and Executive Producer Nick Wechsler loved the material, and were willing to give the first-time author a chance to adapt it into a screenplay. Says writer David Benioff, "I figured that no one knew the story better than I did.”

The fact that the main character was unsavory – a convicted drug dealer named Monty Brogan, played by Academy Award®-nominee Edward Norton – didn't faze Spike Lee at all. "I don't choose which films to direct based on how sympathetic the characters are,” says the director. "Monty Brogan is a drug dealer – and people will find that unsympathetic. But a lot of times, unsympathetic characters make the best movies, have the best stories. That's how I choose my projects – I choose stories that are interesting to me.”

"You can't judge the potential of a film or a character based on whether someone in it is making choices that you wouldn't make in your own life, otherwise you would never play anything,” says Edward Norton.

"Monty is a drug dealer, but he is not necessarily a bad person,” says Norton. "He and his friends and his family have complicated, mixed feelings about each other and about the choices he's made. To me, the script felt like real life, which is rare.”

The chance to do a character-driven ensemble piece was also appealing to Lee; the film is as much about the characters that surround Monty Brogan – his family and friends – as it is about him. "I was also interested in the mindset of not just Monty's character, but the people around him,” says Lee. "It's just as hard for them to deal with the fact that their friend's going away to prison in 24 hours. What do you say to him? How do you act around him these last 24 hours? Do you talk about it? Do you just say, ‘Let's get him drunk and have a good time?'”

"This is a story that explores themes that people will be familiar with,” says Norton. "We all have friendships that are based on past history but perhaps have lost a strong connection in the present. Sometimes you sit down with someone you have known for a long time and think, ‘If I met you now, we would not be friends.' But history between you binds you. The script explores the way that friendships can devolve, cruising on past history despite resentments that have grown and not been expressed and the way that people can diverge without acknowledging it.” Barry Pepper, who plays Monty's longtime friend Slaughtery, acknowledges the turbulent relationships in the film, but feels that they are based in love and not hate. "These are basic emotions that all friends deal with,” he says. "There are always elements of jealousy or a desire for what the other has, and I think that those are very present within our friendship. So, there are definitely a lot of turbulent emotions throughout the film, but I think hate is far too strong a word for any of the emotions that they feel for one another. I think love is a much more resounding theme, because they realize in the end that they love each other like brothers, but they despise some of the choices each other has made in life, and wish that it could be like when they were kids.”

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