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Designing The Smiths' World
The Smiths' life as a couple is clouded by secrecy, lies, and ennui. This is reflected in, among other things, their home, which symbolizes their dying relationship. It is a space overflowing with creature comforts, exemplifying the height of style but with no real warmth and heart or soul. Theirs is a house, not a home.

"Their surroundings keep them from really experiencing each other," says Akiva Goldsman. "It's their beautiful, gilded cage."

"Where they make their home is very rich, sophisticated and high concept," describes Production Designer Jeff Mann. "In a nutshell, it's the old adage that money cannot buy happiness, even within the confines of this beautiful environment. But the house still needed to be a reflection of who they are."

Brad Pitt was particularly fascinated with the design of the Smith domicile, and he invited Mann, with whom he had worked on the film Kalifornia, to his home to discuss concepts. Mann was aware of Pitt's longtime interest in art and design and took his style cues from the actor.

"Looking at Brad's home was a great opportunity to see what he liked and what would help him step into his character," says Mann. "I listened carefully to his ideas and then we embellished them for the film. Our discussions led to some interesting changes in the set design."

Of course, since John and Jane are assassins, the house holds many secrets. John's innocent-looking tool shed, for example, opens to reveal a cellar-sized supply room containing stacks of cash, plus rocket launchers, grenades, and dozens of different handguns. Jane's oven, too, is a secret repository of high-tech weaponry. The twist is that neither Jane nor John is aware of the other's covert stashes…until their fateful showdown inside the home.

The film's look and action set pieces, as impressive as they are, always served the story. The two protagonists may be highly trained assassins, but in the end they have the same problems faced by many married couples: boredom, lies and soul-deadening routine. "In a way," says Doug Liman, "we're taking two people capable of near super-human feats, and dropping them in the middle of suburbia, making them face the same type problems you and I face every day.

"In the end," he concludes, "MR. AND MRS. SMITH is a spectacle that riffs on something we all struggle with, which is living with another human being."


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