Like poker itself, the story behind the making of ROUNDERS is
not just one of luck, but one of skill. Two years prior to the
day that ROUNDERS began shooting principal photography (December
15th, 1997), co-writer Brian Koppelman walked into a Manhattan
poker club and knew instantly that there was a story to be told.
"... I took a look around at the people, I listened to what
they were talking about, I watched the action, and at around two
in the morning, I called [co-writer] David [Levien] and I woke
him up and I said 'We have to write a movie about this.' And we
started writing the next day." A year later, after the script
was discovered by Ted Demme's and Joel Stillerman's Spanky Pictures,
Koppelman and his writing partner David Levien scored a greenlight
by Miramax Films. John Dahl was soon attached to direct the film
which was to star Matt Damon, an actor he had been impressed with
after watching some advance footage of the soon-to-be-blockbuster
"Good Will Hunting." Damon and Edward Norton signed
on to star in ROUNDERS, a film about friendship amidst the world
of back room poker games, and ones man's journey to find his passion
Set against the backdrop of New York's high-stakes underground
poker world, ROUNDERS is the tale of one man's journey to pursue
his ultimate dream. Matt Damon ("Good Will Hunting,"
"John Grisham's The Rainmaker" and "Saving Private
Ryan") stars as Mike McDermott, a master card player who
trades the poker-playing ways for a shot at a new life. Mike is
attending law school and spending time with his girlfriend and
classmate Jo, played by Gretchen Mol ("The Last Time I Committed
Suicide," Woody Allen's upcoming "Celebrity").
For Mike, the law school route is a legitimate road to success,
but it's short on thrills and the excitement of back-room poker
games. Then, when a longtime friend named Worm, played by Edward
Norton ("Primal Fear," "The People vs. Larry Flynt"
and the upcoming "American History X"), is released
from prison, Mike is faced with the high-stakes dilemma of dealing
himself back into the world of the "rounders" for the
sake of his friend.
ROUNDERS also stars John Malkovich ("Dangerous Liasons,"
"The Killing Fields," "Of Mice and Men") as
the seedy Russian card shark Teddy KGB, who runs the biggest and
most dangerous game in town; John Turturro ("Barton Fink,"
"Quiz Show," "He Got Game," and "The
Truce") as Joey Knish, Mike's old-time poker guide; and Martin
Landau ("Crimes and Misdemeanors", "Ed Wood,"
"Tucker") as Professor Petrovsky, Mike's law school
dean and mentor. Famke Janssen ("City of Industry",
"Deep Rising," Woody Allen's upcoming "Celebrity"
and Ted Demme's upcoming "Monument Ave.") also stars
as Petra, a card player who runs the Chesterfields poker club.
As the stakes rise, each one of these people deals a hand in Mike's
ROUNDERS is directed by John Dahl ("Red Rock West,"
"The Last Seduction"), and written by David Levien and
Brian Koppelman. The film is produced by Ted Demme and Joel Stillerman
of SPANKY PICTURES. Kerry Orent is the Executive Producer.
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