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RUNNING WITH SCISSORS

About The Production (Continued)
This film tells the story of Augusten Burroughs who is just barely a teenager, when his mother abandons him to the care of her shrink, Dr. Finch. Packed off to live in the Finch's teetering pink Victorian house, Augusten is thrust into a world where Christmas trees linger in summer, the dishes are dirty, Valium is the answer to most problems and playing with electroshock-therapy machines are a form of children's entertainment. And yet, no one in the Finch household is quite what they seem on the surface. This is especially true of Dr. Finch, the peculiar psychiatrist who first mysteriously appears in Augusten's life in the middle of the night, summoned to solve one of his parents' violent fights – and eventually becomes his surrogate father, much to Augusten's dismay. Though Augusten fears that Dr. Finch might be even crazier than his mother, he also discovers there are many sides to this complicated man – from the weirdly scatological to the profoundly philosophical.

When writing the screenplay, Ryan Murphy collaborated with Augusten Burroughs, to bring additional dimensions to Dr. Finch. When it came time for casting Murphy felt there was just one man who could truly bring the multi-layered portrait to life: Brian Cox, the prolific, Emmy Award-winning, Scottish actor who has drawn acclaim for numerous memorable roles in film, television and theatre, most recently in such films as Spike Jonze's "Adaptation” and Woody Allen's "Match Point.”

Cox was instantly drawn to Murphy's screenplay. "This was one of the best scripts that I'd read in a long, long time,” he says. "It's so rich. I also think Augusten's journey, though more extreme than most, is similar to what a lot of children go through – having to confront the craziness of adults, the craziness of society's structures or lack of structures, and somehow survive.”

He began his preparations by having lengthy discussions with Augusten Burroughs about how he planned to approach Dr. Finch. "We talked about how the Finches were eccentric but not really malevolent in any way,” he says. "I found that Augusten has a very deep and lasting affection for these characters. He doesn't judge them. Their actions were extreme but their intentions were something different – and that's what makes them so touching.”

Cox also familiarized himself with Finch's counter-cultural psychotherapeutic methods. He began to see that his character, like Deirdre Burroughs, was very much a product of his times. "This was the 70s when America was just coming out of the free love, hippie, Timothy Leary era and the whole human sensibility was being tested in every different kind of way,” he notes. "There were all kinds of strange and crazy therapy movements that happened then – primal therapy, screaming therapy – all in an attempt to see if there was a button you could push to release somebody. Finch was a part of that. He represents the idea that there are no taboos, that everyone should be free – he was the new wave of psychiatrist who believed in letting it all hang out. But of course once you say there are no taboos, people don't know what to do or how far to go and things start to fall apart, as they do in Finch's house.”

Especially intriguing to Cox is Finch's philosophy towards Deirdre, whom he believes the doctor legitimately wants to help. "He sees women like Deirdre as going into a world that isn't quite ready for them and therefore it makes them crazy,” the actor explains. "And they have to somehow be helped, led or given the means to get through it.”

On the set, Cox truly became the charismatic but deeply flawed leader who holds his entire family, as well as his patients, in a kind of strange enthrallment. All of the actors found themselves riveted by him. "It was such a privilege to watch him bring this character so fully to life,” says Dede Gardner.<

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