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Thematically, according to writer/director Martin Brest, Gigli is linked to his other movies. "Increasingly, I've found myself being pulled towards a central character who comes off mean, angry and unsympathetic. Gradually, another side is revealed. The fact that a character feels compelled to adopt a harsh outer shell to keep from being hurt has always interested me."

Larry Gigli's (Ben Affleck) journey is one of a man who imagines himself as one kind of person and through the course of the film, surprises himself when other facets of his personality begin to emerge. Not only did Brest find this dramatically interesting, but also a wonderful repository for humor.

"There was an atmosphere on the set that encouraged us to explore the funny side of Gigli's dilemma," says Brest. "Not so much the joke-funny side, but the serious-funny side. There are moments when the characters are flipped out about some horrible thing that's happened to them, which turns funny when a certain insight emerges. That's the kind of observation we were always looking for."

Once he had completed the script for Gigli, Brest turned to his producing partner Casey Silver, with whom he has an association dating back almost to the start of his career. "We met on Beverly Hills Cop, explains Silver, "when I was the head of development for Simpson-Bruckheimer Productions. At the last moment, we had a cast change, replacing Sylvester Stallone with Eddie Murphy, and Marty and I found ourselves thrust into the circumstance of having to redevelop the material with an impending start date. Later, when I ran production for Universal, Marty made Midnight Run. He followed that with Scent of a Woman and Meet Joe Black. We've worked together for a long time now."

"I didn't really think about any particular actor to play Gigli during the writing process," says Brest. "The most important thing was to create a central character who is stuck in time, who has somehow missed the opportunity to grow and progress."

Brest sees Larry Gigli as a man that time forgot, someone who, despite his good looks and charm, lives in the past and is a bit removed from his contemporaries. "His sensibility hails from another era, twenty or thirty years ago, which immediately makes him kind of sad," says Brest. "His peers have moved on, gotten married, started families, and Gigli is still at his two-bit job, living alone in a dumpy apartment. Somewhere along the way, he took the wrong road and he's stuck. So he postures, covers up, tries to pretend he's a tough guy."

When he finished writing the character of Gigli, Brest's mind turned to casting the central role. "I thought of Ben for a couple of reasons," he says. "He has the physical presence to make Gigli intimidating, but he also possesses a wonderful vulnerability. He has a very outgoing nature that, simultaneously, reveals a certain amount of self-doubt. Ben understands the character's contradictions, his bullying, thug-like behavior and that layer of sensitivity. It was fascinating to watch him juggle those emotions. He kept both elements going at all times, balancing them effortlessly."

Vital to the story's progress is the character of Ricki, who Gigli meets through his kidnapping assignment. Her sensibility and outlook on life couldn't be more different and it shakes Gigli u

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