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FIRST SUNDAY

About The Casting
With the completed script in hand, the filmmakers were ready to cast the film. Ice Cube had always been their first choice for the role of Durell. "He is so incredible on many levels, not just as an actor, which he has definitely grown into tremendously,” says Tim Story. "He has a range that I think people don't always realize. He just gets the process of filmmaking.”

David McIlvain says that while Cube's star power is likely to bring an audience into the film, his ability to balance comedy and drama will be the key to its ultimate success. "He's one of the few actors who can really do that well,” says the producer. "Some of the dramatic scenes he does will take you back to Three Kings and Boyz N the Hood, where his career began.”

David E. Talbert was determined not to cast what he calls "the usual suspects” in First Sunday. I wanted to put together an eclectic group of people that you would never see in one film. Each one brings his or her own sensibility to it, their own style, their own flavor. And then at the end of the day, what you have is like a gumbo, where in every spoonful you're not going to find the same thing, but it's going to taste good.”

"When I wrote the script, I had Tracy Morgan in mind to play LeeJohn,” says Talbert of the actor, a series regular on the Emmy® award winning NBC show "30 Rock.” "This character, although very funny, has the back story of growing up in foster homes and having the church turn its back on him. Tracy, like Richard Pryor or Robin Williams, has the depth to make us laugh to keep from crying himself.”

Story says that as soon as he saw Cube and Morgan interact, he knew they had found the right actor to play LeeJohn. "Immediately, it was gold. Cube is such a great straight guy and Tracy just gives you all this comedic energy. The cool thing about it is, he's also an excellent actor. His dramatic scenes are downright emotional.”

Morgan says LeeJohn's metamorphosis in the film was his way into the character. "LeeJohn is a caterpillar—he's crawling at first, while the other characters are soaring. But he's crawling to a cocoon, which is the church. God is going to work on him. And when he comes out of the cocoon, he becomes a beautiful person.”

To cast Rickey, First Hope's eccentric choir director, the filmmakers looked no further than Katt Williams, coming off the massive success of his HBO special, "The Pimp Chronicles Pt. 1.” "He's one of the hottest comedians in the business today,” says Alvarez. First Sunday marked the actor's second outing on a Cube Vision film, having made his screen debut in the role of Money Mike in Friday After Next.

Williams describes Rickey as "a really fly choir director” who is completely immersed in his job. "Everything else that exists in his life is merely a function of directing the choir,” says the actor. "And that's why he's fun to watch.”

To give Rickey a unique style to mirror his signature personality, Williams wears a flamboyant wig, which Talbert describes as "a cross between Prince and Little Richard.”

Talbert emphasizes how important the choir director is in an African American church. "Rickey has a license to say anything to anybody. In most churches, especially a Black church, the music has as much power as the pastor. As many people are coming to hear the music as are coming to hear ‘the word,' so this is Rickey's universe.”

Tim Story calls Williams "one of those guys who could be making a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich and it's just funny. Hopefully, the laughs aren't so big you don't hear what he's saying next, because Katt is truly a gift to this film.”

Knowing he had gifted comedians like Williams and Morgan in the cast, Talbert encouraged improvisation throughout the shoot. "Because Tracy and Katt are so quick, I liked to start with what's scripted, and then lock the camera on them and keep feeding them ideas, givi

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