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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 choice."

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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