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COLLATERAL

Building Characters
Mann acknowledges that pairing Pinkett Smith with a real-life attorney and Ruffalo with an undercover cop to give them added insight into their respective roles is part of his general approach as a director. "I'm a big believer that whatever the central activity is that a character does in life, an actor, and sometimes I as a director, should also be able to do to really understand the character. It provides all kinds of access into the depths of the person.”

To that end, both Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx underwent very individual training regimens to identify more fully with their individual characters. Cruise trained extensively with Michael "Mick” Gould, a former member of the British Special Air Service and a respected authority in the areas of martial arts and weapons training. In recent years, Gould has turned his expertise into a career as a consultant and instructor for clients ranging from military Special Forces and law enforcement to feature films. He had first been recruited to work in motion pictures by Michael Mann on the movie "Heat,” and Mann called on him again to give Cruise, one of the industry's most affable stars, the makings of a consummate killer. For the scenes involving gun play, Cruise practiced on a police firing range with live ammunition, which gave him a familiarity with the feeling of firing a real gun that is impossible to get from firing blanks. Using live ammunition also gave the actor a respect for the weapon, even when it was later loaded with blanks.

 "I've fired weapons in pictures before, but I'd never had that kind of training with a gun,” Cruise states. "Mick is a great instructor. He helped me to find my own style and also trained me beautifully so I was very safe when using a weapon. I couldn't afford to make a mistake because even though you're firing blanks, they are full-flash blanks and could hurt somebody. But it also added a dimension to the character that I really enjoyed exploring. It was like building the character from the ground up, so when it came time to do those scenes, I felt very confident. I didn't have to think about it; this is just who Vincent is…this is what he does.”

Mann says, "In directing Tom, I was working with someone who has the most complete focus and dedication to being there and making himself available to everything. You believe that Tom can do what his character does in the picture for the simple reason that Tom can do everything his character does in the picture. All those skills were acquired in pre-production.”

While Cruise was on the firing range, Jamie Foxx was racing Ford Crown Victorias at Willow Springs Racetrack. "To be honest, I didn't understand why we were on a racetrack,” Foxx admits, "but Michael said he needed me to have the feel of the cab, so driving it became second nature and not acting. He said, ‘If you're acting, it's a cab, but if it's natural, you're not paying any attention to the cab at all.' And when it came to the stunts, he wanted me to be comfortable with the car going fast—how it moves and turns at any speed. We ended up having a great time at the track. It was a whole lot of fun, but at the same time, I got a little of Max's DNA.”

"It was important,” Mann adds. "If you've been driving a cab twelve hours a day, five days a week, year after year, you've got to be a pretty instinctive driver. He had to know how to control the vehicle and get sensitized to the weight transference, its effect on traction, like that… That's one of the basics of racing, so we did just that…except with a Crown Vic.”

Interestingly, it was the act of not driving that proved the most challenging to Foxx. Since most of the action takes place in the confines of a taxicab, the

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