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THE CHANGELING

Casting The Film
As Christine Collins navigated her way through landmines of wavering public opinion, disbelieving police and shadowy gun squads to find her son, she was joined by a group of supporters and detractors. From activist Reverend Gustav Briegleb, the pastor of St. Paul's and Westlake Presbyterian churches in Los Angeles, and attorney S.S. Hahn, a defense attorney known for high-profile criminal cases, to Police Captain J.J. Jones, the stalwart adversary who would continue to be a presence throughout Collins' seven-year quest for answers, the screenwriter kept the actual names of players in Collins' world whenever possible. Changeling would also allow for characters that were an amalgam of people and types who lived in L.A. of the day.

Reverend Briegleb was considered a fearless activist who positioned himself as a watchdog against the unbridled corruption in city government, and even the film industry. Briegleb was quick to point out that fellow Los Angelenos were too easily buying the stories of police who claimed their dodgy actions were beneficial; he preached that citizens should look closer at the truth and ferret out the corruption. Portrayed by accomplished actor John Malkovich, the reverend and his insider knowledge of the city's political machine played a pivotal role in Collins' search and, ultimately (in our story), saved her life.

Of the impact Reverend Briegleb had on Christine Collins, Jolie explains that the two had a "wonderful friendship.” She offers, "He's quite a voice at the time, and he really draws her to him and helps guide and teach her. He gives Christine this sense of strength, which can only come from somebody of a different kind of authority. The reverend says, ‘You are not crazy, and these are not good people; even if they're in authority, that doesn't mean you should give them that respect. You should question them.' He helps her to find her own voice.”

Eastwood previously worked with Malkovich on the drama In the Line of Fire and was keen to again partner with the film and stage performer. "I've liked John's acting for a long time,” says the director. "I thought that he would be an interesting casting choice for the role. John brings a little edge, a little quirkiness to the table; he's a chameleon.”

Malkovich was curious to tackle the part of this early crusader for justice. Of Briegleb's activism, he offers, "It's probably a fairly early example of the kind of pressure that can be brought to bear by the media. Briegleb had his radio show; he did his radio address and read his sermons. He really put a spotlight on the LAPD and on what he perceived to be their horrendous practices.”

Reverend Briegleb saw the 1920s LAPD as the most incompetent, violent and corrupt police force "this side of the Rocky Mountains.” Malkovich viewed his character as a man who rallied for justice, even when it was unpopular and dangerous. The performer admits he found it, "amazing to think…as my character quotes of Police Chief Davis: ‘We will hold trial on gunmen in the streets of Los Angeles. I want them brought in dead, not alive, and I will reprimand any officer who shows the least bit of mercy to a criminal.'” That kind of pressure on Davis' officers could explain their interest in quickly solving the Walter Collins case…and ignoring the fact that the wrong boy had been returned to the right mother.

Legendary attorney S.S. Hahn, played by character actor GEOFF PIERSON, took on the Collins case and sowed the seeds for future legislation that would eventually overturn "Code 12” incarcerations. As the scion of the prominent Los Angeles family, his political legacy spanned decades…and includes future generations of politicians from former L.A. County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn to its recent mayor James Hahn.

Actor Jeffrey Donovan was cast as the merciless, by-the-book Po

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