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FOUR BROTHERS

The Bond of Brothers
In preparation for shooting, Singleton didn't want to over-rehearse the brothers. "He wanted the dynamic among them to be natural,” says di Bonaventura. "So rather than rehearse a lot beforehand, he just wanted them to hang out. As a result of that, their personalities found a sort of balance. He was really right to do that. You can see the natural ease in the combativeness, the acceptance, and the love among the four guys. Wahlberg agrees. "The more we got to know each other, the more comfortable we felt, the more we pushed each others buttons. It was always good energy. As odd as it seems for all of us to be brothers, if you were around us you could actually almost believe that we were.

Adds Benjamin, who in real life is an only child, "We fell into that whole brotherly thing: we joked and tripped on each other really easily. Mark really became the older brother and we all looked up to him. Me and Tyrese fooled around all the time just like he was my younger brother, and we all picked on Garrett just like you would on a baby brother — especially about his hairstyle.”

One way the group bonded was over hockey. Bobby is an ex-hockey player who never made it to the pros, but the sport is still his love. In the film, the brothers use hockey to blow off a little steam after Thanksgiving dinner in a ritual they call the Turkey Cup.

"Mark was the first one committed to the project,” says di Bonaventura. "And so he had the most time to get ready. He's an incredibly dedicated actor, so he was skating an hour and a half or two hours a day. He worked hard for several months before he got out there. Garrett grew up playing hockey, so it was easy for him. Tyrese is a good athlete, and he ramped tip pretty fast. Andre, also a gifted athlete, had never played hockey, or even ice-skated, so I think he found it a little daunting at first.”

"When I found out we'd be playing hockey,” recalls Benjamin, "I figured they'd just use a stunt double. But a week before the scene was set to shoot, daily hockey lessons showed up on the schedule. The first couple of days, I hated it. But by day three or four, I'm sliding and shaving ice. I'm no Wayne Gretzky, but I will ice skate again.”

While the idea of doing a picture set in the cold in the dead of winter appealed to Singleton, it was a real departure for the director whose films are usually set in much warmer climes such as Miami and L.A. "It's a different look from any other pictures I've ever done,” he adds. "For me, making movies is all about the adventure of it. I'm actually using the winter as a kind of a surrogate character in different scenes.

"We were on Lake Simcoe to shoot the scene in which Jeremiah and Bobby face off against Detroit mob boss, Victor Sweet,” says Singleton, whose biggest challenge in that scene was maintaining a pristine frozen lake. "The first day was perfect; the lake was evenly frozen and there was a layer of snow over the lake.”

One incident that rattled the crew happened when they were out on the lake working out a shot. "Suddenly, the ice cracked,” recalls di Bonaventura. "It was just resettling, but it was like a shotgun had gone off. Nobody wanted to admit that it scared the hell out of them.

"The ice on the lake was about 18 inches,” recalls Keith Brian Burns, the production designer, who counts "Four Brothers” as his sixth film with John Singleton. "During pre-production, we looked at a number of different locations, but Lake Simcoe, which is north of Toronto, was in an area that freezes faster than others. We also wanted something that provided a sense of vastness, and Lake Simcoe worked well — it's over 28 miles wide and with its enormous vista of winter white. It gives the movie a real sense of scale during a very critical scene.

"The hardest day of shooting was the day we shot three funeral scenes,” recalls di Bonaventura. "It w

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