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About The Characters
With the screenplay in place, the filmmakers began the difficult task of choosing an actor for the pivotal role of Jan Schlichtmann

With the screenplay in place, the filmmakers began the difficult task of choosing an actor for the pivotal role of Jan Schlichtmann. They agreed that the part called for an actor of monumental caliber. John Travolta fit the bill perfectly.

"You have to be seduced by Jan," says producer Pfeffer. "You have to feel what the other lawyers are feeling, like you'll follow him anywhere. We needed someone with that high likeability and John is one of the few actors who can pull that off. John had played street-smart characters before. We just moved the neighborhood. Now he's in expensive Italian suits and we want to follow him to the ends of the earth."

Travolta has been honored twice with Academy Award® nominations, first for his role in the blockbuster "Saturday Night Fever" and most recently for his riveting portrayal of a philosophical hit man in "Pulp Fiction." He also received Golden Globe nominations for both of those roles and won the Golden Globe for Best Actor for his role as Chili Palmer in "Get Shorty." His recent film, Mike Nichols' "Primary Colors," earned him further critical success.

"I've always prided myself in character-driven work," says Travolta, "and I've been fortunate that I can play anything from a blue collar worker to the president of the United States. This is another stretch. It's entertaining to play a character who starts out superficial and who then evolves into someone substantial. Jan is cocky and materialistic. He has a great sense of humor and he treats his employees well. But he lives life in one dimension. The good thing about this story is that you don't see a drastic change in his character. But when he does change, it's authentic.

"Jan was gambling on the quick fix," Travolta continues. "But he misjudges his opponents. He's spending five thousand dollars on a luncheon meeting convinced they'll think he has power, style and enough money to go the distance. They've already found out he doesn't."

Travolta was also drawn to the environmental nature of the project. He is a champion of numerous environmental causes, including rain forest preservation and safe alternatives to pesticides, and is an active supporter of the Children's Health Environmental Coalition (CHEC).

"A Civil Action" reunites Travolta with Academy Award®-winning actor Robert Duvall, his co-star in Touchstone Pictures' highly successful film "Phenomenon." This time, Duvall plays Travolta's unpredictable yet formidable adversary. He stars as Jerome Facher, the crafty and highly-skilled trial litigator from the prestigious Hale and Dorr law firm, who successfully defends Beatrice Foods.

"Jerry Facher is very eccentric and in certain hands it would be too much, but Robert is such a subtle actor," says writer / director Zaillian.

Duvall earned an Academy Award® as Best Actor for the 1983 release "Tender Mercies," a Golden Globe Award for his portrayal of Josef Stalin in HBO's television presentation "Stalin," an Obie as the hero in the 1965 revival of "A View From the Bridge," and four Oscar' nominations for his roles in "The Godfather," "Apocalypse Now," "The Great Santini" and most recently, "The Apostle," which he also wrote and directed.

"Facher is the unsung hero," says Duvall, who embraced the role after his close

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