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Mr. Brooks Imaginary Friend
One of the most vital, and unusual, characters in MR. BROOKS is Marshall, Mr. Brooks' alter ego who exists only in the most shadowy corners of his mind, and reveals the wicked impulses that cause Mr. Brooks to murder strangers. To play Marshall, the filmmakers knew they would need a truly gifted actor – someone who could make the part feel scary and real while also keeping him within the dream-like realm of a figment of imagination. It was Kevin Costner who first brought up the name of Academy Award® winner William Hurt, which whom he had starred in the now-classic "The Big Chill.” "Kevin was adamant that William Hurt would be his perfect alter-ego,” recalls Raynold Gideon. 

The reaction among the filmmakers was unanimous. "To have an actor of William Hurt's caliber take on Marshall was just a thrilling idea,” says Bruce Evans. "When he said ‘yes,' it brought so much to the film.”  Hurt's recent work has taken him from the crime kingpin in David Cronenberg's "A History of Violence” to a founding CIA agent in Robert DeNiro's "The Good Shepherd,” but Marshall was a role unlike any other – a rare chance to play a psychological demon in the flesh. Hurt was immediately intrigued by Marshall. "He is a pure concoction of Mr. Brooks' psyche,” he notes. "But I played with the layers of his motivation. Is he simply accommodating Mr. Brooks' perverse whimsies, or does he have a supernatural motive of his own that takes precedence?” 

As for how he prepared to enter a man who is wholly imaginary, Hurt explains the symbiosis with Kevin Costner that was necessary: "I decided that the only way to go about it was just to key off of Brooks' apparent needs as expressed by Kevin's work. A lot of it was up to Kevin, so my problem was kind of answered. It was a great exercise as an actor to be so aware of what another actor is doing, to forget ‘yourself' or lose ‘yourself' in that, which is really the point of all work.” 

Jim Wilson was impressed by how well the two actors synched in both their passion for acting and their work ethic. "They are both very committed actors who do a lot rehearsal -- very intense, true rehearsals,” he explains. 

Hurt also notes that while we don't all have an evil "Marshall” in our heads, we do all have various hidden sides to ourselves who sometimes make appearances. "We all have different voices in our heads, and that's what Marshall represents in the film: our panel, our inner review board that's there all the time,” he says.  While Marshall may discourage any introspection on Mr. Brooks' part, Hurt himself was fascinated by the character's complexity and inner battles. "He does have this part of himself that is truly sorry about the whole thing,” he observes. "His wrestling with his conscience is really important in this. Then there's the whole introduction of his daughter and the notion of repetitions through the generations, of karma. I think where the crucible really lies for Mr. Brooks is in his relationship with his child.”

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