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THE GOOD SHEPHERD

Casting The Film
The filmmakers knew they needed someone to play Edward Wilson whose performance would encapsulate the agent's three-decade transformation from wide-eyed schoolboy to grim bureaucrat. Robinson describes Wilson as a man who must pay a high price for devoting his entire life to safeguarding democracy. "He didn't have a fun life. He was always doing the right thing,” he feels. According to the producer, the actor who would portray the central character needed to project a "quiet, smart, still-waters-rundeep type of person. That's who Matt Damon is.”

When approached for the project, Damon's enthusiasm for the role was profound. "Matt doesn't make any compromises as far as his character,” commends De Niro. "He's not, all of a sudden, more sympathetic.”

"He's one of the finest actors working today,” adds Rosenthal. "He's willing to take on the challenge and is not afraid to push himself.” Damon's likability was also crucial for a character whose actions don't often elicit sympathy from the audience. "Matt is a really nice guy and that comes through, so you have an empathy for this character more than if you had another actor playing this part,” she notes.

Damon was impressed with not only the screenplay; he was eager for the chance to work with De Niro. "It's a masterful piece of writing, and as an actor, Bob's the guy everyone worships,” he says. "To have him be there, you feel like you're in good hands.”

As part of his research, the Harvard-educated actor spent time with CIA veteran Bearden, visited several of the locations in which the story takes place and read multiple books on the CIA. In order to better understand the impact that a career in the CIA would have on one's home life, Damon also met some of the families of the men who founded the agency.

"It's hard for relationships to last; it's a really high-pressure job,” relates Damon. "Edward lives in a world where the stakes are high, and he can't afford to trust even the people closest to him.”

The main victim of this never-ending secrecy is Wilson's wife, Clover, his friend's sister—whom the 22-year-old marries after a passionate encounter at a Skull and Bones retreat, Desert Island, results in her pregnancy.

Academy Award®-winning actor Angelina Jolie was cast to play this complicated character. With her exotic looks, the popular star might have initially seemed an unusual choice for the role of a debutante and senator's daughter. But De Niro had no doubts that she could play an ingénue who would grow to live a life of constant uncertainty as a spy's wife. "Her instincts were great,” lauds De Niro. "She conveyed the things I thought were essential for Clover in the way she wanted to do it, in the way she was able to do it.”

As a young woman from a wealthy, conservative family, Clover has many personal obligations—from proper deportment to marrying within her social stratum. Jolie found a spark within Clover with which she could identify. "There's something about her that knows there is something wrong with it all,” reflects the actor. "She is kind of cheeky about it and a bit of a spitfire. She has a wonderful sense of life.”

But a shotgun marriage to a quiet man who does top-secret work proves to be Clover's undoing. "She is affected by all the negative things about this world,” states Jolie. "She is married to it, and a victim of being around nothing honest, being shut out as a woman…limited as a woman of this time.”

"Angelina has made more out of this than I could ever have imagined,” reflects screenwriter Roth. "I think she's spectacular.”

Wilson's work also profoundly influences his and Clover's son, Edward Jr. Roth's script had the six-year-old child first meet his father at the end of World War II, when Edward returns from Europe after the completion of his work for the OS

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