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THE HUNTED

About The Production
Academy Award® winners Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro each had quite an experience working on "The Hunted" as they learned everything from knife fighting to how to forge crude weaponry. The two actors also had the experience of working with Academy Award® and Golden Globe-winning director Billy Friedkin. Both found it rewarding, and Jones, who had previously worked with Friedkin on the military thriller, "Rules of Engagement," particularly appreciates Friedkin's method of working, one he likens to his own.

"Billy is a fine director and he gives actors the freedom to exchange ideas, which is very important to me," says Jones. "I also like that he tries to get it right on the first take. That's always my intention, too: to have the first take be the best take, every time. To use a sports analogy, the best offense is designed to score a touchdown every time you hike the ball," adds Jones, who likens Friedkin's directorial approach to the way Jones and his teammates played football at Harvard. "If you only gain 15 or 20 yards. somebody made a mistake, and it's time to try a new play. That's Billy's way of directing."

As for L.T. Bonham. the character he portrays, Jones says that what is most interesting and important is that the man teaches something he has never actually done himself: to kill. "He's awfully good at it," remarks the actor, "and he knows everything about it, except the actual experience of doing it."

Benicio Del Toro, who portrays Aaron Hallam, one of L.T.'s best students in the art of killing, appreciates Friedkin's drive toward realism.

"I'm especially proud of the hand-to-hand combat in the movie," says Del Toro. "We wanted to keep it as real as possible, and although an actual fight between two guys with extraordinary knife skills could easily be over in seconds, ours is very real in terms of how we block and how we react.

According to Friedkin. who believes that "casting is 80 to 90 percent of the success of the film," Jones and Del Toro brought different, but equally wonderful styles of acting to "The Hunted."

"Tommy is one of the most brilliant film actors ever. I put him on a list with Spencer Tracy, Robert Mitchum and Steve McQueen," says Friedkin. "He does what great actors do: He brings a large part of his own nature to each frame of the film. He invests every moment with his own humanity. Benicio also brings a strong sense of inner self to every shot. There's no way to write what Benicio does: it just comes through. Very often, the best acting is not only what is written on the actor's face, but what's written in his soul."

Having worked with such directors as Sam Raimi on "The Gift and "A Simple Plan" as well as the Coen brothers on "Raising Arizona," producer James Jacks was eager to work with Billy Friedkin.

"It took me a long time to figure Billy out," says Jacks. "He shoots differently than just about anybody. He prepares differently. He doesn't do storyboards: he doesn't do any of the stuff that I'm used to dealing with. And what I realized is, Billy came out of documentary filmmaking and shoots his movies as if they're documentaries. He

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