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XXX: STATE OF THE UNION

About The Production
"We loved the attitude of the first XXX and we loved making it," says producer Neal H. Moritz, "The audience seemed to enjoy it as well. So we decided if we were going to make another one, it had to maintain the same attitude even if it covered different ground than the original."

The initial XXX was an international blockbuster directed by Rob Cohen, who serves as an executive producer on XXX: State of the Union. Also back for another turn as producer is Arne L. Schmidt.

"Rather than setting it overseas like the first film, we decided to bring the story closer to home,” Moritz continues. "We decided on the nation's capitol as the setting because it would be a strong and timely backdrop.”

"In refashioning and freshening the concept, we also set our sights on a new XXX agent for the second adventure,” adds Moritz. "Again, we wanted to keep the same attitude as we had in the original and when we were contemplating our new hero, one name that seemed to embody that spirit was Ice Cube."

The new agent, Darius Stone, had to be streetwise and have military experience, qualities Ice Cube had displayed in such hit films as Boyz ‘N the Hood, Three Kings and All About the Benjamins among others. A top hip-hop performer who has now become a major motion picture star, Ice Cube was eager to step into his XXX role. "I was a big fan of the first movie," he says. "The stunts were amazing. I was actually in Neal Moritz's office discussing another project when I saw the trailer for the first film. I remember thinking to myself, 'Damn, I should be playing 'XXX'!"

Moritz concurred. "There aren't that many actors with both the true sense of the street the role required and the ability to handle the stunts. Cube's in great shape. He loved the action scenes and looked fantastic doing them."

Samuel L. Jackson returns in the role of Augustus Gibbons, the tough-as-nails NSA operative. He says he enjoyed the thought of having another shot at fleshing out the darker elements of Gibbons' character. "I'd always envisioned Gibbons as a sort of rebel who happens to be part of the government,” says Jackson. "He believes in the things he's doing but has always been considered an outsider. The fact that he runs this secret organization his own way appealed to me. I guess that's because of my own rebellious nature."

Also rejoining the cast was Michael Roof, who plays flustered gadget genius Toby Lee Shavers. This time around, his character isn't just on the sidelines. He gets his fair share of gunplay and adventure. "Toby is still a gadget-wrangler," says Roof, who comes to acting from a standup comedy background. "But he also gets to take part in the mission, a chance to get down with the brothers. I get to drive and shoot and hack into the Department of Defense computer system. I'm totally bad!"

Director Lee Tamahori, who most recently guided the latest James Bond adventure Die Another Day, seemed a natural for the latest XXX installment. Not only had he demonstrated the ability to handle complicated action sequences and stunts, he also had a gift for eliciting strong performances from actors as he showed in such films as The Edge and Once Were Warriors.

Tamahori says he was intrigued by the new film's premise and the producers' decision to situate it in the U.S. during the current political climate, which, for him, made the storyline all the more plausible. "I was attracted by the idea of keeping Sam Jackson's character while changing the agent he has to deal with," he muses. "I thought this was a wonderfully original and intriguing approach to continuing the XXX franchise. I also like the fact that the action arena was also very different from the original. Here was a real homegrown American story with the villains housed within the corridors of power."

The filmmakers also p

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