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RADIO

A First-Class Ensemble
Tollin praises Radio screenwriter Mike Rich for crafting a lean, emotion-filled tale. "Mike has a gift for telling a story that's moving and dramatic yet restrained. He also brings a touching human dimension to even the minor characters."

The subtlety of the screenplay posed a great challenge for the director, "because everything is not necessarily spelled out in black and white," says Tollin. "That left me a great deal of freedom to work with the actors, particularly Gooding and Harris."

Because Gooding was filming another movie, shooting on Radio began without him. For three and a half weeks, Harris worked mainly on dealing with the community's resistance against Radio.

"And then, on day 18, Cuba shows up and wow – here's Radio," Tollin recalls. After shooting Radio's solo scenes, Gooding and Harris finally began to work together. "And what a treat that was," Tollin smiles. "There's this scene in the diner where Coach Jones watches Radio eat. For some reason, I kept thinking of the scene in Michael Mann's movie Heat where Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro sit down and meet on screen for the first time. Here were two giant actors working together right in front of me. It was a very special moment. There was such respect, professionally and personally, between Cuba and Ed. They both fully embraced the power of the story. For me it was an absolute privilege to watch these guys take the scene to a whole new level. Every day they surprised me."

Though both actors come at acting from different directions, their divergent styles perfectly complemented one another. "Cuba's got a certain lightness about him," observes Harris, "a youthful quality that comes across in Radio's attempts to understand things and in his exuberance. Cuba captured all that perfectly."

For Gooding, one of the best aspects of playing Radio is that he had very little dialogue. As an actor who likes to work on instinct, Gooding found the experience liberating. "It was heaven," he laughs. "I might cut all my lines out of the rest of my movies. There's such paranoia when you have a big dialogue scene, because you're trying to get the performance right and make sure you don't forget your lines. With Radio I just focused on his reactions. And it's such a treat not to worry about how to say my next line."

Gooding developed the character of Radio while he was still shooting his previous film. He and Tollin had many discussions, but Gooding also did some work on his own. One of the actor's ideas for the character was to alter his look, says producer Herbert W. Gains: "One thing about Cuba, as everybody knows, is that great smile and that terrific set of teeth. He wanted to change that and we tried several different versions before we were satisfied. The rest of it – the mannerisms, the body language, the way he walks and holds his head – all that came from within. It's the hallmark of a great actor."

"It was amazing how he could switch in and out of character," says Sarah Drew. "I would have thought that doing a character like Radio required all your concentration. When a scene began, his entire body language changed and he became another person. Then, when the director yelled cut, he was Cuba again."

As a young actress, Drew was also fasc

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