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The Cast
Like his previous films, Howard has populated EDtv with an ensemble cast, emphasizing that many, as Hurley notes, have had their unusual brushes with fame

Like his previous films, Howard has populated EDtv with an ensemble cast, emphasizing that many, as Hurley notes, have had their unusual brushes with fame. "What's interesting is Elizabeth, Ellen, Woody, Matthew, Jenna, all of these people have fairly recently felt the glare of media scrutiny in a way that most people, even people in the entertainment business, have nor experienced."

While Grazer acknowledges Howard's remarks, he also points our that "All of Ron's (films) are ensemble pieces, whether it's Backdraft or Parenthood or Apollo 13, where he gets to address many different characters. Since this is an ensemble piece and it's character driven, television was a really rich, fertile area to go to find these actors.

"There's nothing I like better than working with large ensemble casts," says Howard, whose own TV sitcoms each featured a variety of memorable characters. "There's no question that having grown up as an actor, I feel a terrific closeness with my cast, always, an empathy for what they go through. I think they are the greatest collaborators, the most valuable tool available to any filmmaker."

Coincidentally, one of the film's stars with no background in television is McConaughey. In casting the charismatic actor, both Howard and Grazer recalled their first impressions of him from his feature film debut in Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused.

"I saw him in Dazed and Confused and thought he was a funny character actor," Grazer recalls. "After that, he went and became this big star in the Grisham movie, then a Spielberg movie and all that. What really got me excited about him was when I met him in my office. He spilled Coca-Cola, and instead of blotting it up with a paper towel, he put his mouth on the table and sucked up the Coke. I thought that was hysterical. This guy's a funny, crazy cat.

"That little thing he did in my office, married to what I saw him do in Dazed and Confused, essentially got him the role, because that's what this movie is about," Grazer submits. 'It's about real-life comedy, nor just jokes. It's all the funny, odd stuff that people do that (they) take for granted, like sucking up Coke off a table when you think no one's looking."

Howard also thought McConaughey "was great in Dazed and Confused. He played a much different character than Ed, but certainly nothing like the guys we saw in A Time to Kill or Contact or Amistad. And, this is nor a performance vehicle for a great comedian. I want people to believe this could happen. Matthew really hasn't had any roles where his natural charm, his sense of humor is displayed."

The director adds, "Matthew is not Ed, but there's a part of him that grew tip with guys like Ed, and he's been able to draw on that. Also, he's experienced that kind of overnight success that is somewhat akin to what Ed goes through. I think he found it an interesting role to play at this time in his life."

"And, he is also a person that very comfortably exists in two worlds-he's comfortable bouncin' down the highway in a truck and, likewise, comfortable showing tip at a movie premiere in a stretch limo. He brought a lot of spirit to EDtv and the role of Ed. He turned in a very funny performance, Howard proclaims.

For McConaughey, working with Howard was enough to attract him

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