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ANALYZE THIS

Casting

The filmmakers of "Analyze This" assembled an extraordinary ensemble of actors to bring their story to the screen, beginning with Lisa Kudrow as Ben's newscaster fiancee, Laura.

Kudrow was delighted to play Laura, a fastidious, determined woman who's far from happy when she finds her wedding plans in a state of disarray because her serious, sober-sided husband-to-be is unexpectedly involved with a Mafia don.

The other roles for the characters from Ben's world were filled by Kyle Sahiby ("Ed TV") as Michael, Ben's mouthy teenage son, and Bill Macy (TV's "Maude") and Rebecca Schull ("The Odd Couple II) as Ben's self-absorbed parents. Molly Shannon, of NBC's "Saturday Night Live," was cast as of one his more intractably neurotic patients, and Jimmie Ray Weeks was signed as an FBI agent who mistakes Ben for a gangster.

The roles of Vitti's "people" were filled in a rather more unconventional manner. "We sort of adopted the Martin Scorsese-Bob De Niro method of casting when it came to the Mob roles," Ramis says. "This consists of Bob and Marty walking the streets of Little Italy, spotting a civilian, saying, 'Hey, that guy would look good,' and signing him up. Joe Rigano, for example, was cast this way in his first Scorsese film. We use him for Manetta, Vitti's mentor, who's gunned dawn in a scene in which Vitti narrowly escapes with his life. He's perfect."

From the more traditional dramatic ranks came Chazz Palminteri, an Academy Award nominee for Woody Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway"; Leo Rossi ("The Accused"); and Richard Castellano, a former boxer who started his entertainment career as a stand-up comic, also play Mob characters.

The key role of Jelly, Vitti's lieutenant/bodyguard/confidante -- a character Ramis calls "the Sancho Panza of the film" -- is played by Joseph Viterelli. Viterelli, who recently also completed production on "Mickey Blue Eyes" with Hugh Grant and appeared in the Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau comedy "Out to Sea," is possessed of an oversize frame and an oval, rubbery, sad-eyed mug, making him an unforgettable figure.

As Crystal notes, "We have a collection of great faces here, faces that make each and every character ring true."

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