The Male Characters
Eventually, Rabe and Drazan found themselves with a strong working draft of Hurlyburly
Eventually, Rabe and Drazan found themselves with a strong working
draft of Hurlyburly. But Drazan's efforts were just beginning
as he started the even more challenging process of casting and
financing the feature. A turning point came when Sean Penn committed
to the role of Eddie. Penn had played the role a decade earlier
on stage--but at first had reservations about taking it to the
screen. "It's an extremely demanding part," Penn explains.
"At first it wasn't so much that I wanted to do it as that
I didn't want anybody else to do it. I was just attached to the
But the more Penn got to know Drazan and the new script, the more
excited he became. "When I first saw Hurlyburly the play,
it was the first time I had ever heard this kind of language or
heard people talking about these kinds of feelings. The ideas
that came out of it really stuck with me. Now with this new script,
there was more of a gut approach. or a soul approach. than a heady
approach. I became interested - and I knew that the levels of
a character like this one are infinite.
With Penn on board, the casting fell into place with an extraordinary
group of talent. Looking back at the team he assembled, Drazan
says: "Each of these actors has a distinctive intensity all
their own. But when they came together that energy and intensity
was magnified. That was essential. The key was having the audience
be seduced by the frenzied, funny energy of these guys.
With cast in place, Anthony Drazan began to develop the big screen
look of Hurlyburly. From the beginning, he saw the visual
as being equally important to the verbal; he wanted the physical
world of Eddie and friends to reflect the chaos, yearning and
cracked superficialities of their personalities. Drazan worked
closely with the late production designer Michael Haller and director
of photography Changwei Gu to achieve this goal.
Michael Haller previously collaborated extensively with director
Hal Ashby and had developed a very detailed way of working with
design. "Michael was a true artist." says Anthony Drazan.
"He considered every aspect of the production from camera
angle to character in his designs. He brought something very special
to his production because he was interested in keeping the design
to reality, and that's exactly what David Rabe's hyper-real, poetic
language needed to balance it."
It was Haller who had the task of creating Eddie and Mickey's
Hollywood Hills hideaway - a milieu filled with muscular, masculine
furniture and lots of glass, mirrors, metal and other shiny, reflective
materials. "'This sense of refuge, this kind of 'countrified'
sense of people hiding in their Hollywood homes was all Haller,"
comments Drazan. "He was just filled with ideas. There's
a real art to taking a space and understanding how relationships
unfold within it and Mike really did that with Eddie's place."
Halfway through production, Haller discovered that a previously
treated cancer was recurring. "The worse and worse he got,
the harder and harder he worked,'' says Drazan. "He was just
an incredible presence in this production.'' Sadly, Hailer passed
away shortly after production of Hurlyburly.
Equally important to Drazan s visual concept was the cinematography--which
had to echo the emotional turmoil and linguistic mania of the
piece while coolly seducing the audience to keep their eves on
the awesome wreckage of these lives. Drazan had been impressed
with Changwei Gu's lyrical work on Farewell My Con
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