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LEATHERHEADS

Casting The Film
Choosing the comedy’s principals fell into place fairly quickly. Renée Zellweger, who plays sportswriter Lexie Littleton, caught in a love triangle between Carter Rutherford and Dodge Connolly, was one of the first actors to come onto Leatherheads. “George already had Renée in mind—her name was at the very top of the list,” says Casey Silver. “It was easy to get excited about her, obviously, because she is so perfect at romantic comedy.”

Grant Heslov adds, “She handles this rapid-fire dialogue brilliantly, and we knew she could play this feisty, smart character with savvy, sexiness and sophistication. What’s so great about Renée is that she also captures Lexie’s vulnerability, which comes into play when she has doubts about what she’s doing…and when she starts to fall for Dodge.”

Zellweger was attracted to the part because she found Leatherheads to be “the kind of movie you keep your fingers crossed for.” She responded to the fact that “it’s a throwback to those great old romantic comedies where the dialogue is sharp and witty, the story is compelling and interesting and the characters are full of color.”

The actor adds that what appealed to her about Lexie was the fact “she’s witty and smart, clearly a sharp girl who thinks on her feet. Lexie’s a bit of a spitfire, ahead of her time—but I also appreciated that she was very likable and, at the end of the day, has real integrity.”

Zellweger quickly discovered that, for much of the screwball comedy, the loquacious sports reporter utters mouthfuls of dialogue; the banter practically gallops among Lexie and Dodge and Carter. She liked that Clooney’s accommodating directing style made the rapid-fire lines much easier to manage. During rehearsals, they agreed that they wanted to catch each other off guard, and not become stuck in particular rhythms.

Zellweger offers, “We discussed the dialogue, the scenes, what the subtext was and how it worked in the story. But we didn’t over-rehearse; we never blocked out the scene to a great extent or ran lines too much. With these lines, that was easy to do, as there were pages and pages of dialogue. There was homework and memorization every night. But it was addictively fun, because the lines were so rich and we could take them in so many directions.”

Clooney expands upon his leading lady’s assessment of the script: “It’s like riding a roller coaster; it can’t all be brrrapppp, really fast. Going down is rapid-fire, and then you stop. You have to find those moments, and you find it through running the scene a couple of times and getting a rhythm for it. But Renée is the perfect actress for this; I can’t think of another that could’ve done it.”

John Krasinski came next, cast as football star Carter Rutherford. Producer Heslov felt that Krasinski understood Carter’s conflict as a war hero who might not be as valiant as first reported. The screenwriters had created a decent fellow not merely caught up in the hoopla of celebrity but, in fact, trapped by it. Heslov states, “We always saw Carter as basically a good guy—an innocent, smart man who got in over his head. John really got that and played it beautifully.”

Although Krasinski, best known for his work on the hit television series The Office, had been in a few feature films, he was impressed by the Leatherheads read. He says, “I read the script eight months before shooting, and I just loved it. I said to my agents, ‘This is the best script I’ve read in a long time. Let me know who gets it.’ But I met with George in his office, and we just talked; I didn’t au

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