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The Story Begins
The spine-tingling sensation of déjà vu has mystified humankind for centuries. The feeling hits at the strangest moments—when we fall instantly and madly in love with a total stranger, when we arrive at a brand-new place we know like the back of our hand, whenever events occur that inexplicably feel like they must have played out somehow, somewhere before in our lives. From philosophers to filmmakers, we have all wondered: Where does this feeling come from? Is it all in the mind or does it emerge from some deeper reality? Why does it happen? And, most of all, what does it mean?

"It is these fascinating gray areas that lie at the heart of our film,” says the star of DÉJÀ VU, Denzel Washington. A two-time Oscar® winner who is regularly offered the cream of the current screenplay crop, Washington was swept up when he encountered DÉJÀ VU's uniquely time-shifting, backwards-moving structure and its provocative exploration of one of life's most inexplicable experiences through the lens of a love story and a crime-solving thriller. "I think we all have had the feeling that we have been somewhere before—I've had it, too,” Washington admits. "I used to have this dream about a particular place in Brooklyn, and then one day I went there, and I couldn't help but feel like I had been there before. It's one of those big mysteries in life that I think everyone wants to get to the bottom of.”

Indeed, everyone who first came into contact with DÉJÀ VU was instantly intrigued. It's not often that a screenplay arrives in leading producer Jerry Bruckheimer's office and is purchased within a matter of hours—but DÉJÀ VU, written by Bill Marsilii & Terry Rossio, was an exception to the rule. Bruckheimer, who has become a brand unto himself with a roster of films that span many of the most popular and influential films of the last two decades, felt right away that the script was something special. Screenwriter Rossio (along with another partner, Ted Elliott) had already written the wildly entertaining and phenomenally successful "Pirates of the Caribbean” series for Bruckheimer, as well as such runaway hits as "Aladdin,” "Shrek” and "Zorro,” among others. But with DÉJÀ VU, he and newcomer Bill Marsilii had ventured into fresh territory—taking a sleek, modern thriller and poignant romance out onto the edges of modern physics' understanding of time.

Recalls Bruckheimer, "The concept of DÉJÀ VU was completely original, a real page-turner, and different from any other love story I had ever read. We were fortunate enough to be the first ones to get a peek at it, so we bought the screenplay within forty-eight hours of receiving it.”

Rossio and Elliot first formed their unusual writing partnership in the most modern of ways: in cyberspace. Around ten years ago, Rossio was in an America On Line chat room talking to different aspiring writers about their careers when he came across Marsilii and was immediately impressed by his insights and smarts about movies. The two seemed to have an instant creative rapport.

But Terry lived in Los Angeles and Bill in New York, so they began exchanging ideas and script concepts by e-mail over the course of several years. One of those ideas was for an unconventional, intricately woven thriller/love story that would take place unmoored from the usual rules of time. Starting with a deadly, heartbreaking tragedy, a federal agent would have to follow his sense of déjà vu and, using top-secret technology, trace his steps all the way back to the moment in time when he might have a shot at altering the catastrophe—and with it, his own chance for a once-in-a-lifetime love affair.

The idea seemed to have enormous potential but was also unusually complex, pushing the thriller into realms where it usually doesn't go. Soon Rossio and Marsilii were simultaneously developing the nu

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