About The Production
For Damon, the starring role in ROUNDERS came at perhaps the most exciting time in his career, when he had just begun his catapult to fame with the releases of "Good Will Hunting" (for which he ultimately won an Academy award for Best Screenplay with co-w
For Damon, the starring role in ROUNDERS came at perhaps the most
exciting time in his career, when he had just begun his catapult
to fame with the releases of "Good Will Hunting" (for
which he ultimately won an Academy award for Best Screenplay with
co-writer Ben Affleck) and Francis Ford Coppola's "The Rainmaker."
As Mike McDermott in ROUNDERS, Damon plays a top rate poker player
who is torn between two ways of life; law and poker. "I'm
portraying a guy who's meant to be at the highest level of the
game," states Damon. "The character I play should be
a poker player. This is what he is meant to be. In that sense,
the film is kind of a celebration of who you are." Damon
further explains Mike's journey, "Mike is under a lot of
pressure not to go back to the game. The trick for him is to try
to keep the promises he has made, because in doing so, he will
basically have to deny a certain part of himself... this kind
of passion he has to play the game." For Damon. accepting
the role in ROUNDERS was a thrill as it allowed him to work with
many actors that he admired, "There are all of these interesting
characters, played by some really remarkable actors; from Edward
Norton to John Malkovich, John Turturro and Martin Landau. Like
four of the greatest actors in the country right there where you
can see them."
Himself an Oscar nominee for his role in "Primal Fear,"
Edward Norton joins Damon in the pivotal role of Worm. Norton
took on the challenge of becoming a poker player with enthusiasm,
"I thought it was a great script. The first time I read it,
I finished the last page and said 'Great, let's do it and don't
change a word."' Norton was drawn to the role of Worm for
the character's off beat qualities and sincerity beneath the surface.
"I would describe Worm as a philosophic cheat. He believes
in cheating as a way of life. It's not as a matter of desperation,
but rather a matter of course." In order to create the authenticity
of the character, Norton requested a special make-up application,
as he explains, "I had the make-up artists make me a tattoo
of the ace of spades on my wrist because that's Worm's whole philosophy
in life: always keep an ace up your sleeve." But the character
is not all bad, in fact as Norton describes, Worm is convinced
he knows what is best for Mike, "Worm has accepted who he
is, and he knows that Mike needs to embrace the fact that he is
a poker player at heart."
"They're like brothers," states Director John Dahl on
the relationship between Mike and Worm, "They share a common
bond which is the essence of their friendship. Therefore, as with
a family member, one always feels compelled to help the other."
For Director Dahl ("Red Rock West," "The Last Seduction"),
this project is an exciting and new challenge. ROUNDERS is a drama
about life, friendship and following one's dream. "I thought
David [Levien] and Brian [Koppelman] did a real nice script,"
says Dahl. "Like 'Rocky,' the character of Mike McDermott
gambles with the fact the he is going to step into the 'ring'...
In other words, in life we all feel as though we put ourselves
at risk to achieve what we want to accomplish. It's just ironic
that in this movie, poker is actually the metaphor for all those
other things we see in films that have been more virtuous than
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