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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 character."

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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