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"I'm an expert in literature and I gotta tell you, thus far there's not a single literary thing about you.” -- Professor Hilbert

Harold Crick's search for answers begins in a psychiatrist's office, but when that doesn't get him anywhere, he seeks emergency advice from the brilliant and eccentric English professor, Jules Hilbert. Professor Hilbert, who describes himself as "an expert in literature theory,” becomes Harold's guide in the classic tradition of the archetypal figures who guide literary heroes on their epic journeys. As he attempts to understand and change Harold's story, the professor pushes Harold towards some new and often unsettling experiences: a rule-breaking romance with a woman he is auditing, an admission of a secret dream to play the guitar, and perhaps most terrifying of all, a day off from work. And it is Professor Hilbert who urges Harold to take advantage of his tragic situation by learning to savor his life for the first time.

Professor Hilbert is one of STRANGER THAN FICTION'S most colorful, comical and emotionally complex characters, and Forster immediately knew the actor he wanted to play the part — Dustin Hoffman, the two-time Oscar®-winning veteran star who had played a small but key role in Forster's FINDING NEVERLAND. "I had fallen in love with Dustin then and wanted to continue the romance,” laughs the director. "He's a wonderful collaborator and he has such incredible passion. As I read the part of Professor Hilbert, I thought, ‘Oh, that's Dustin.'”

Doran was in complete agreement. "There aren't that many actors whom you could believe as somebody who knows that much about literature and even fewer who can be both so smart and so funny at the same time,” she says. "Dustin brings all his intelligence to the part, but never at the expense of the humor or the sensitivity. Hilbert is a hilarious character, but like Harold, he has a secret longing that is uncovered by the end of the story.”

Hoffman responded viscerally to the screenplay. "It's rare to find a script that has even half the weight that this one has,” he says. "When I read it, I was completely overcome with emotion.”

Once on set, he was equally moved by Ferrell's performance. "I was enchanted by Will because I had been expecting someone with those qualities that the public has fallen in love with,” Hoffman continues. "Instead, I found him to be rather shy, introverted and quiet. He is very right for this role, because Harold Crick seems to be guileless, and just in the short time I've known Will, he seems guileless to me. He's the only person that I've met in recent years, over the age of 10, who still says ‘Gosh' a lot.”

Says Ferrell of the experience of working with Hoffman: "I didn't want those weeks to end. To work with someone you admire as much as Dustin Hoffman and to have him be so friendly and warm and giving as an actor was just more fun than anyone should be allowed to have at work.”

Regarding the question Harold wants Professor Hilbert to answer – Is life a tragedy or a comedy? – Hoffman has his own take. "I think if you had to define life, you might say that it's a very serious comedy,” he summarizes, "and that's what this film is as well.”

"Anarchists have a group? They assemble? Doesn't that completely defeat the purpose?” -- Ana Pascal

An unexpected happenstance that arises in Harold's quest to change his life story is his first encounter with true love. A dedicated loner since a failed relationship with a co-worker (an auditor who left him for an actuary), Harold doesn't expect to connect with anyone, let alone an anarchist tax evader. But that's exactly what happens when he encounters an unusual bakery owner named Ana Pascal.

Ana is a vivacious, rebellious and completely compelling character – which is why the filmmakers t

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