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About the Cast
For "25th Hour,” Lee, along with producers Tobey Maguire and Jon Kilik and executive producer Nick Wechsler, compiled a dream cast of award-winners. Central to the film was, of course, Edward Norton's portrayal of Monty Brogan, the man who is about to go to prison for seven years. One of the most acclaimed actors of his generation, Norton has been nominated for two Academy Awards®: for Best Actor for his performance in "American History X,” and for Best Supporting Actor for his debut performance in "Primal Fear.”

"Ed has a great range, and the character of Monty called for an actor who is both street smart and book smart; someone who is complicated, who's nice but dangerous at the same time. It was easy to think of Ed as Monty,” comments Kilik.

Norton was immediately drawn to the project. "It is about the consequences of moral passivity, of not taking a hard look at whether or not you've drifted into some gray areas ethically. I think this is a story with a cautionary intent.”

In addition, the chance to work with Lee was a huge draw for the actor. "Like half the good young actors I know, I have been hoping to get something from Spike for years.” says Norton. "I have been bugging him as much as I felt like I appropriately could, and I have been dreaming of working with him since long before that. He has been one of my favorite filmmakers from the very beginning of his career. I probably would have said yes without opening the script.”

Of course, the fact that he had such a rich character to portray didn't hurt. "Monty is a complicated character and that is thrilling as an actor. Monty is really wrestling with what he has done and the difficulty of taking responsibility for his choices when a big part of him wants to blame other people. The story is about his journey to taking responsibility for his own actions,” says Norton. Of Norton, Lee says, "Edward is one of the smartest people that I know, and not just about acting. He's also a very hard worker. Everything he does is what's best for the film.”

Rosario Dawson had previously worked with Lee on "He Got Game,” and they had often spoken about working together again. As a result, the actress was a natural to play Naturelle, Monty's longtime girlfriend – and possibly the one who sold him out to the cops. "I love working with Rosario, and right away there was very good chemistry between her and Edward,” says Lee. Dawson sees something of herself in Naturelle – a young woman having to make major decisions about her life. "Naturelle seemed like someone who was really complex, a really smart girl and just very interesting. At the same time, she is stalling about making a lot of decisions in her life. And as I get older, I see myself deliberately putting off making decisions and wanting to stay young and innocent, and just have fun and not have to be responsible. For the first time, Naturelle has to face her life and decide how she wants to live. I can relate to that.” Naturelle's relationship with Monty is strained by his suspicion that she is the person that betrayed him. That shadow of doubt creates the dynamic that Dawson and Norton deal with throughout the course of the film. "There is a strain in their relationship, but they don't talk about it. Six or seven months have gone by, and he hasn't said anything to her. So, Naturelle tries to be there for him, to make it as easy a transition for him as possible,” explains Dawson.

Norton was impressed by Dawson's approach to her craft. "She has a very natural sense of understatement. She is very comfortable with stillness, which I think is the key to film acting and which I think is very rare in an actress as young as she is. I was very impressed with Rosario's talent in ‘He Got Game' and really wanted her to play this part.”

The two other major characters in "25th Hour” are Jacob and Slaughtery, Monty's two friends from high school with whom he reconnects in

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