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RUSHMORE

About The Production
Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson actually began writing the screenplay for "Rushmore" before filming began on their first movie, "Bottle Rocket

Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson actually began writing the screenplay for "Rushmore" before filming began on their first movie, "Bottle Rocket." When the script was completed, producer Barry Mendel, Anderson, and Wilson held an auction for the film rights. Four studios offered to make the film, and Walt Disney Studios' chairman Joe Roth, who had been a fan of "Bottle Rocket," met with the filmmakers and convinced them to come to Touchstone Pictures.

The search for an actor to play Max was a huge challenge. "We didn't really know what we were getting into," says Anderson. The filmmakers scoured theatre programs and schools in two continents for nine months, and advertised on the internet and in the USA Today and The New York Times. Nancy Doyle, casting director in New England, reported, "I hung out in school libraries and cafeterias, accosting kids I thought might be right. Wes was looking for something very specific, an unknown who could walk in and just carry the film. He made it clear he wouldn't go forward with the film without the perfect Max."

A month before production was scheduled to begin, with most of the other roles already cast, they had no Max. Time was running out. The fate of the project seemed in doubt. Finally, San Francisco-based casting director Davia Nelson met Jason Schwartzman at a party in the Bay area.

Schwartzman recounts the story. "Davia said, 'We're looking for a teenage kid who's really horny and writes plays.' And I said, 'Whoa, that sounds like me.' So I gave her my address and phone number. When I got back to my house, there was a script waiting. I read it. I laughed. I freaked out because I thought, 'Oh, this is funky."'

Recalling his first meeting with director Anderson, Schwartzman said, "When I went in to read for the first rime, I was really nervous. I wore a blazer and made my own Rushmore patch. I thought I was being unique. When I got to the audition, there were at least ten other guys in blazers."

Anderson notes, "But nobody else made a patch." Schwartzman continues, "So I went in, and there was Wes wearing Converse sandals, and we started talking. And suddenly I felt relaxed. I knew instantly that he was a good guy, and I felt very comfortable with him. I thought, 'Hey, I could have a chance here.' Then after I read, he told me to go for a walk around the block while he saw the rest of these kids, and then to come back. I gave him a quizzical look, and he said, 'This is a good thing."'

Anderson says, "A huge weight was lifted from my shoulders, because I knew we had him. Jason had a thousand ideas and incredible energy. He's really smart and he's funny and he's strange. He had all the right qualities for the character, and I instantly felt a personal affection for him."

Seymour Cassel says, "Jason played Max to the hilt. Here's a kid who's not an actor, although he is an actor because he doesn't 'act'. He just has fun with the role, and he knows and feels Max's pain."

Bill Murray was the filmmakers' ideal choice to play Mr. Blume, "but we weren't even going to offer it to him because we didn't think it was realistic to think we could get him," Wes Anderson says. "It was a huge thrill when he agreed to accept the role. He is perfect."

The film is a comedy, but Mr. Blume (a Vietnam veteran) has serious problems.<

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