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About The Casting Process
So many of the actors in Brooks' films have either won or been nominated for Academy Awards®. (Jack Nicholson has won two Oscars® for his performances in Brooks' As Good As it Gets and Terms of Endearment). Not surprisingly, the cast members of Spanglish were eager for the opportunity to work with the director, despite knowing that Brooks' work ethic can be exhausting.

Brooks' seeming ease in creating three-dimensional female roles has resulted in Oscars® for Helen Hunt (As Good as it Gets) and Shirley MacLaine (Terms of Endearment) and nominations for Debra Winger (Terms) and Holly Hunter (Broadcast News). Téa Leoni, who plays Deborah Clasky, felt working on Spanglish was her hardest acting job to date. "In the beginning, I wondered whether I had enough energy, intensity or finesse to play this bipolar egomaniacal neurotic in a film that is essentially a very touching dramatic comedy. I've never had a director access me so thoroughly. Sometimes it made me mad, sometimes I was intimidated, but mostly I was in awe of Jim."

All Brooks' characters are fully realized human beings by the time they reach the screen. They are often complex, flawed people, but always real and engaging. "Some of the stage directions in my scripts are like notes to the actors,” reveals Brooks. Although the characters are already precisely delineated on the page, the director continues to work with his cast during filming to access every possible nuance of their characters.

Paz Vega, who stars as Flor, describes her experience with Brooks: "He's someone with whom I had a perfect understanding from the first moment. At the start, he asked that we create my character together. ‘I know things about Flor, but I don't know everything,' he told me. ‘I need you to give me those things.' And that's the way we worked all the way through.”

For his part, Brooks says, "I'm not missing the obvious point that Paz, who gave this incredible performance in the picture, couldn't understand a word I said.”

While writing Spanglish, Brooks imagined Adam Sandler as John Clasky, sensing that he possessed the innate decency that was crucial to the character. "I tried to cast Adam for a small part in a picture back when he was on ‘Saturday Night Live.' He came into the office and there was a quality about him that really stuck with me.” With unwavering conviction in his talent, Brooks approached Sandler for the role of John. "We began talking about this picture and I just said, ‘It's an acting job.' I think that was the extent of our creative discussion.”

Sandler catapulted to fame with a string of successful comedies. With Paul Thomas Anderson's critically acclaimed Punch-Drunk Love, audiences were introduced to a more serious side of Sandler. Says Leoni, "Adam was astounding in Punch-Drunk Love.”

Brooks feels Clasky's strength is his clarity and ease within himself. "He's not confused, or tormented. He's able to show his emotions and be regularly baffled by circumstances, but he's always strong. Dagwood Bumstead has always been a complicated hero to me.”

In the film, John's family is clearly his priority in life. At one point in the story, he makes a decision to give away 20% of his business in order to avoid spending too much time away from home. "And he doesn't have to have an epiphany to come to that decision,” Brooks points out. "It's in him naturally and he just easily makes the right choice.” That solid, quiet confidence already exists in Sandler, says Brooks. "He's one of the best human beings I've ever met. You get a lot of pleasure from working with him. He's a walking tutorial on how we should deal with each other.”

Sandler traveled to the Napa Valley to visit chef Keller. The actor's first exposure to The French Laundry was as a guest in the dining room. "Adam and some friends had dinner

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