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EXISTENZ

The Cast
Cronenberg had looked forward for several years to working with JENMFER JASON LEIGH, with whom he had already established a rapport long before the project was green-lit by Alliance Atlantis

Cronenberg had looked forward for several years to working with JENMFER JASON LEIGH, with whom he had already established a rapport long before the project was green-lit by Alliance Atlantis. "I wanted someone who was believable as a brilliant but moody and philosophically oriented game designer who could really convey obsessiveness. It's her obsessiveness that drives the whole movie. The game is her art form and her life. Knowing that the two are the same, she is willing to risk her physical life in order to save her creation."

After Leigh read the script, her agent let it be known that she was extremely passionate about it. When they met to talk about it, Cronenberg discovered that Leigh had not only recently gotten into computers, but was an Apple Master. "The idea of combining those things that she loves - the acting and her new obsession - was perfect," comments Cronenberg.

He explains, "computer freaks are involved with gaming and the concept of artificial life and intelligence, because a computer is a kind of artificial intelligence. A computer with a keyboard burdens one with a lot of baggage. The movie deliberately strips that away so people can interact with the film directly without preconceived ideas. Jennifer recognized the dynamics of the movie as dealing with things she'd become very passionate about."

Agrees Leigh, "I'm a big computer nerd and I've always wanted to work with David Cronenberg, so eXistenZ worked for me on many levels. As an Apple fanatic I understand the kind of fanaticism people have toward their computers." Commenting on how games, television and the onslaught of media affect one's psyche relative to the film, she observes, "They're living a fantasy, but it feels very, very real. The game you choose is your reality."

Leigh describes her character, Allegra Geller. "I play the game designer who's much happier when she's playing the game than when she's not. She's a bit of a neurotic in her regular life and not very comfortable with people." Her appearance reflected this attitude. When she was in the game, Leigh looked more bold, sexy and beautiful. "Geller's whole point is a much more organic approach to gaming than the arbitrary rules of the classic games that one plays. Part of the fun is also that everything in the movie is not what you think."

To star opposite Leigh, Cronenberg chose JUDE LAW because he was looking for a fresh face as well as someone who would complement Jennifer. Jude is a really brilliant young actor who's caused a lot of excitement and is highly sought after in the business. I thought he would be a terrific sort of 'My God, who was that guy?' kind of guy. That was our take on him," comments Cronenberg.

Responds Law enthusiastically, "I wanted to work on eXistenZ because the script was like nothing I'd read before. It was an opportunity to work with David Cronenberg, who makes films like no one else, and a chance to work with Jennifer Jason Leigh, who, I think, is brilliant. It's not often you get to make a film which is so unique and brave."

Law's take on the picture: "It's about a game that uses your memories and your past, your present emotions and psychological state to put you into an alternate world that then creates challenges in a realer than real experience. The overall theme of the film is how individuals perceive rea

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