About the Production
Woody Allen uses a wide canvas in "Deconstructing Harry
Woody Allen uses a wide canvas in "Deconstructing Harry."
The screenplay contains close to 85 speaking parts, and working
with casting director Juliet Taylor, Allen cast the film and worked
with his actors in the same unique way he has during his years
of directing comedies and dramas. Casting the right actors in
the right role is a hallmark of Woody Allen films. Allen says
of Deconstructing Harry's large ensemble, "I was very lucky
to get everyone I wanted. Everyone who is in the film is my first
The starring cast, a superb and versatile ensemble of talented
actors, boasts several who are known for their comedic talents
while others are more renowned for their dramatic abilities.
Billy Crystal who plays the role of Harry's romantic rival says,
"Woody's my favorite filmmaker, and when he sent me the pages
of my role and wrote a letter saying that he'd love me to appear
in the film, it felt like a summons to be presented with a very
great honor. I was so excited. I read the pages, I laughed very
hard, and said yes right away."
"When I was starting out in the early 1970s," Crystal
says, "like so many comedians of my generation I had two
goals: to get on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and to appear
in one of Woody's films. I have to laugh because it only took
me 25 years to accomplish the latter."
Unlike Crystal, young Tobey Maguire, who is at the start of a
promising career, had to audition twice for his role.
"I was terrified. Number one, I don't like auditions. And
number two, it was Woody Allen! When it was over, I thought I
had a terrible reading, that I was flat. When I went back to read
for a second time I forced myself to get past being nervous and
show what I could do. And then I sort of felt that I was going
to get the part. I ran all the way back to my apartment and when
I got there, the call came and said the role was mine."
Each actor in the film, regardless of his role, was given only
the pages of the script that pertained to his or her character,
and there was no rehearsal period before principal photography
began. On the set, Allen rarely offered his actors specific directions,
preferring instead to encourage them to explore fully the range
of their characters' emotions.
"I could tell from my pages something about the tone and
the atmosphere and the kind of film it was," says Bob Balaban
who plays Richard, Harry's friend. "There's a special kind
of favorite Woody Allen film for me about modern relationships
that's a mix of comedy and drama, and this is it."
"And I love the way Woody works. You say the lines, but he
gives you a lot of freedom. I noticed in one take that I had inadvertently
changed some of the dialogue. I apologized, but he said he didn't
care. Perhaps he thought it sounded more natural the way I said
the lines the second time."
"But beyond playing my role," Balaban says, "it
was a great joy just being there and watching Woody work. He has
utter concentration and doesn't have to yell or carry on to exert
control. He gives the appearance of being someone who belongs
exactly where he is, directing a film."
Amy Irving, who plays Jane, says of her experience, "Woody
called my agent and asked if I were interested in doing a role
in the film. He said it was about a week's work. I agreed without
even asking what it was about. All I knew was that I was the character's
third wife. I was moving back to New York and thought, 'What a
great welcome mat. What a great way to come
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