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"Porter takes the gloves off from the get-go," states Gibson

"Porter takes the gloves off from the get-go," states Gibson. "He'll roll with whatever they throw at him. He might be a thief but that doesn't necessarily mean he's a man completely without honor. He has a perverse sense of justice." Gibson continues, "The story is dark, yet whimsical. It's a strange mix, but an interesting journey. The situations Porter finds himself in are so extreme that you have to laugh at them, or else."

"I wanted to see a bad guy as the hero, but I didn't want to make excuses for him," says director Brian Helgeland. "With Mel, it's much more interesting because you haven't seen him do this type of role before. He has the kind of age and world weariness that enhances the character of Porter."

Porter's trial-by-fire, scarred wisdom leaves room for only one kind of woman in his future: one that would die for him. Maria Bello explains the attachment Porter has to his former flame, an upscale call girl. "Rosie's the only person he can really trust. We have a past and we have deep, deep, regrets. There's so much between them, so much history, so many things they should've done, but didn't get a chance to do the first time around."

Ms. Bello is known to audiences as the passionate and head-strong pediatrician, Dr. Anna Del Amico, on the Emmy-winning drama, "E.R."

"I was looking through a pile of resumes in the casting office," says Helgeland, "and came across a tape that said Maria Bello. I had no idea who she was, so I popped it in. The second I saw her I knew that she was Rosie."

"Rosie's a working girl," says Gibson. "She makes ends meet - makes lots of ends meet - especially for Porter when he looks for Val. Porter was once her driver, her protector, she came to depend upon him. And I guess they got a little involved," Gibson explains, understating the significance of their connection. "He didn't like the fact that she was still in her old line of work. Circumstances throw him back into her life and her into his. They're still coping with past bruises and hurts and pains. He's not a very giving person, emotionally. He's kind of an emotional cripple. And she's been abused like hell, too. They're really two of a kind."

For the pivotal role of Val Resnick, Porter's double-crossing partner in crime, Gregg Henry was chosen. He is known for his unique work in "Body Double," "Raising Cain," "Scarface," and numerous television movies and theatrical plays. Says Helgeland, "He's fun to watch and at the same time he's gonna be real scary when he goes over the edge. Henry's overblown comic relief adds an essential balance to Val's hard-core psychosis."

"Gregg's perfect," Gibson believes, "Somebody's gotta make Porter look good. Gregg goes the extra yard and makes Val even more sloppy, extreme and erratic."

"Val's a once in a lifetime part," states Henry. "He's a snappy dresser, likes the threads, a sadist with a little smile. He's a heister, a hi-jacker. He longs to be in The Outfit so he's trying to work his way up in the criminal world."

David Paymer next signed for the role of Stegman, the Don of the lowly cab Mafia who yearns to be part of The Outfit. Paymer earned Academy Award® and Golden Globe nominations for his performance as Billy Crystal's put-upon brother in "Mr. Saturday Night."

"Porter is out for revenge, and to get his money he has to go

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