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About The Cast And Characters
Tom Hanks launched his career by making comedy films. But in recent years, the Oscar®-winning actor has turned his attention to more dramatic roles, including "Catch Me If You Can,” "Saving Private Ryan,” "Road to Perdition,” "Cast Away,” "The Green Mile,” and many others. Why now the return to the first out-and-out comedy that he's done in more than a decade?

"Working with Joel and Ethan Coen is like winning the lottery,” says Hanks. "When they finish doing whatever it is they do when they're writing their screenplays, you have the complete package. I got the screenplay, and I was only halfway through when I said, ‘I'm there.'”

The "complete package” includes a larger-than life character that allowed Hanks to amplify his performance to hysterical effect. "The Dorr character is steeped in the classics and full of himself,” laughs Ethan.

"He's the mastermind,” laughs Joel, "to use that word very… loosely. He is by common consent, the smart one of the group. Then again, everything is relative.”

The "experts” that Dorr assembles to execute his plan is an odd assortment of characters. "He's given very poor human material to work with,” concedes Ethan. Hanks sees his character as the "ultimate criminal mastermind of a very small and almost petite little crime.”

His confidence and his ability to keep one step ahead of the questions are masterful. "Professor Dorr is nothing if not logical and he can supply whatever logic is needed at a given moment,” says Hanks of his character's ability to squeeze out of any tight situation with eloquence and style.

While Dorr is the idea man, the brains of the operation, sooner or later, "if you're going to play in the mud you're going to get dirty,” Hanks admits. "So if there's a problem upstairs that is in the way, then you have to draw straws. That problem has to be gotten rid of. Thus the title of the movie.”

Playing Dorr's "inside man” at the casino, Gawain MacSam, is Marlon Wayans. "He's the kid who gets a job at the casino they're going to rob, to case the place,” says Ethan. "He likes to listen to loud hip-hop music and represents everything Mrs. Munson detests. He's the younger generation but with more street sensibility than the sleepy Mississippi culture we find him in.”

Wayans sees his character as "the guy in the crew with the chip on his shoulder. He's the inside man and he takes pride in being the inside man until he finds out being the inside man means he's a janitor in the casino.

"He's got a lot of issues,” continues Wayans about his character, "and he doesn't have a lot of big words in his vocabulary so he substitutes them with cursing.” "I've never cursed this much,” laughs Wayans. "My God, I feel like Richard Pryor.”

As far as his teammates are concerned, Gawain thinks the General is cool – "I don't mess with The General too much,” says Wayans of the characters' dynamic. That said, the relationship with another member of the gang is an entirely different story. "And then there's Pancake,” says Wayans. "Don't let me get started on him. I don't like him.”

Referred to by Dorr as "a jack of all trades but a master of none,” Pancake puts himself and the gang in jeopardy with his knowledge of explosives. Simmons says of his character, "He's outgoing, open minded, friendly and I think accepted as such initially but after awhile, for whatever reason, he begins to grate on people.”

"We were really lucky with those guys,” explains Joel about the casting of Wayans as Gawain and Simmons as Pancake. "The relationship between Gawain and Pancake, which is an important relationship in the movie, is like a bad marriage. Marlon and J.K. play it perfect – it's really funny.”

With Hanks in the starring role as Dorr and motormouth Wayans as his right hand man, Joel and Ethan Coen required an actress who could hold her own against the criminal, uh, mastermind

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