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THE NIGHT LISTENER

About The Characters
At the heart of THE NIGHT LISTENER is Gabriel Noone, host of "Noone at Night,” a late-night talk show on which he has become famous for sharing stories from his life – mostly true but sometimes "embellished” -- across the air waves of America. Now, just as Noone's personal life seems to be falling apart, he finds himself drawn into a mysterious relationship with a family that may be a complete and utter fiction – a relationship that will test everything in which he believes and rend the very fabric between truth and illusion.

When it came to casting Gabriel, the filmmakers knew they needed someone with enough wit and force of personality to be believable as a radio star – yet also the ability to delve into the darkest zones of the human psyche. "Our first choice was always Robin Williams, and he brings a whole world of emotion to this character,” says John Hart. "Robin creates characters in a way I don't think anyone else does. We also knew he could do this because, as in GOOD MORNING VIETNAM, Robin reaches out over the radio and tells stories, and as in ONE HOUR PHOTO, his character deals with a powerful obsession that drives him to extreme actions.”

Adds Patrick Stettner: "So much of this film hinges around the fact that Gabriel actually goes on this impossible journey to find this boy. We needed an actor who could play Gabriel with a big, clumsy heart, someone sympathetic, someone you almost felt cared too much. It's not an easy quality to find in a leading man and I thought Robin was perfect for the role. When you look at his work in GOOD WILL HUNTING and THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, you know he is capable of delivering this kind of beautiful, subtle performance.”

Williams, a long-time resident of San Francisco, also already had a friendship with Armistead Maupin. "They all live in San Francisco and have known each other for almost 30 years. So Terry Anderson hopped on his bike and rode over to their office and dropped off a copy of the script,” recalls Kessel.

Adds Maupin, "I was so happy when Robin was cast as Gabriel because, in his own way – and he probably wouldn't want me to say this – Robin's kind of a healer, and Gabriel does that to a lesser degree through his radio show.”

For Williams, the screenplay was an instant draw. "I thought it was wonderful in a very dark, creepy way,” he says. "It's an incredibly frightening journey in which you meet a radio storyteller, a boy and his mother – but you have to figure what's really going on between them, who they are really are and what to make of them. And that starts the suspense of not knowing. I found it powerful and disturbing and it really talks about what drives us – the terror of being along and that need to connect with other people.”

Although he knew the character of Gabriel was modeled on Maupin's own experiences, Williams also wanted to make the role very much his own. "It's the same thing as in AWAKENINGS, where I was playing Oliver Sacks, but not really,” he says. "So the character is somewhat based on Armistead, but also quite different. The challenge was creating a character who isn't ever quite sure what's real, and finds his life powerfully effected by a fiction, because he wants to believe in it. There's a lot of probing of self-illusions and a peeling away of all pretense for Gabriel.”

The line between reality and illusion is one Williams particularly enjoys dancing around. "I think there can be desires so strong that they override even rational thought,” he observes. "It's almost the intellectual equivalent of an optical illusion. You might hear two voices on the phone that sound the same but then there's something in your mind that can say . . . ‘well, yeah but. . . .' and overrides everything.”

Williams has worked with many of the Hollywood's most lauded stars but he particularly had fun collaborating with Toni Collette as the slippery mother in whom Gabriel wants

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