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THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE

About The Story
Based upon Richard Condon's best-selling classic novel, this mesmerizing story of mind control and abuse of political power is directed by Academy Award -winning director Jonathan Demme, who draws a star-studded cast, including two-time Academy Award winners Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep, Liev Schreiber and an extraordinary roster of supporting actors. 

After reading the script, Washington – at the top of the filmmakers' list to play the tormented Army Major Ben Marco – immediately agreed to star in the role played by Frank Sinatra in the 1962 film directed by John Frankenheimer. 

"When playing a part that has already been created by another actor, the decision always arises as to whether or not seeing that interpretation would be valuable. I chose not to look at the original movie so that my ideas about Marco would be completely my own,” says Washington. "This is a very interesting, complicated story, and my character is very complex. What Marco remembers about the ambush doesn't coincide with what he sees in his dreams and believes to be true. So he's very conflicted. He's been taught what to say, but that's not what he actually feels.” 

When another soldier approaches Marco with claims of nightmares similar to his own, he is not motivated to act on his suspicions, until Shaw unexpectedly runs for vice president. And there to thwart Marco as she manipulates her son into the White House is Shaw's unstoppable mother, Senator Eleanor Shaw, determined to see her son rise to power at any price. Portrayed by two-time Academy Award winner Meryl Streep, the formidable Senator Shaw is a woman willing to destroy anything standing in the way of what she wants.

"I just love the way Ellie Shaw is described in the screenplay – ‘ageless with soft curves that conceal razor claws and a titanium backbone,'” says Streep, who has been nominated for 13 Oscars . "How could I possibly not relish portraying a juicy character like that?”

For the role of Raymond Shaw, Ellie's golden boy who becomes the titular "Manchurian Candidate,” the filmmakers cast Liev Schreiber, a widely respected actor whose lengthy film credits – including key roles in "Ransom,” "The Sum of All Fears” and "Kate & Leopold” – are matched by his work on the stage, playing the title role in critical successes such as "Henry V” and "Hamlet,” and appearing in Neil LaBute's "The Mercy Seat” and Harold Pinter's "Betrayal.”

"Raymond is a reluctant hero whose fame, to his dismay, fuels his political career and his mother's ambitions,” observes Schreiber. "But although he's in a position of power, Raymond is truly powerless against his mother, a woman so controlling she will, on occasion, decide what he should wear.”

Schreiber believes that Meryl Streep makes Raymond's mother not only a palatable multilayered character but also someone with whom audiences will actually be able to identify. "What Meryl brings to the character is a cloaked tenderness that will surprise people with Ellie Shaw's depth and ability to love.”

Director Jonathan Demme, winner of the Academy Award for his stunning direction of "The Silence of the Lambs,” is thrilled to be working with stars of the caliber of Washington, Streep and Schreiber. He also feels that the screenplay's up-to-the-minute take on "The Manchurian Candidate” is both as exciting and contemporary as tomorrow's headlines.

"With the nation's eye focused on a presidential election this year,” Demme says, "I couldn't think of a better time to address darker themes about the political process and the forces that try to undermine it.” Producer Tina Sinatra couldn't agree more, as did her legendary father, the late Frank Sinatra, who owned the rights to the original film. 

"In 1991, I asked my father what he thought of the idea to contemporize ‘The Manchurian Candidate' and he said he thought it was smart a

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