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GENTLEMEN BRONCOS

About The Casting
As production designer Richard A. Wright points out, the structure of GENTLEMEN BRONCOS is uniquely complex. "It's actually several different stories shot on completely different landscapes,” he says. "We've got the twin sci-fi worlds of Bronco and Brutus and all these other wacky sci-fi characters. And then you've got Benjamin's world, which is also a little bit off-kilter.”

That meant assembling multiple acting ensembles, as well. "It was a fun film to cast,” says writer-director Jared Hess. "I had a lot of help from our casting director, Meredith Tucker. She presented a lot of people I never would have thought of. We were very fortunate in that people were really excited about the script, I think because there were a lot of fun characters for people to run wild with.”

Benjamin Purvis, the budding writer at the center of the action in the real world of the film is played by Michael Angarano, who says his character is, in part, a stand-in for the director. "Jared has the same kind of twisted mind as Benjamin,” says Angarano. "I always kept that in mind. In his own way, Benjamin is the most grounded person in the story. And then when you start to see his book come to life, you realize how warped his mind really is.

"It was interesting to try and figure out how much of Benjamin and the story were based on the truth,” adds Angarano. "Honestly, the fact that anything in the story is even loosely based on anything real is remarkable, but I don't know how anybody could make up that stuff. It's smart, but it's funny and it's not cheap humor.”

It was Tucker who recommended Angarano to the director. "I wasn't familiar with his work,” says Hess. "Then I saw SNOW ANGELS and was blown away by his performance. He's just a super talented young actor. He embodied what the character needs to be on every level. He's the most normal character in the film by far, but we learn a lot about the wacky side of his character through what he's created on paper.”

Benjamin has spent his life in a bubble. Home-schooled, fatherless, and extremely close to his slightly loony mother, Judith, Benjamin has no point of reference for being a teenaged boy. "He is kind of like a cranky old man,” says Angarano of his character. "I think he likes to wear his dad's old clothes—maybe even his grandpa's old clothes. That's really the kind of person he is at heart, an old soul and an old-fashioned gentleman. He's very sensitive and he's very smart. He sees the reality in all the situations, and he escapes by writing science fiction.”

One of the actor's favorite parts of the production was working with Jennifer Coolidge, who plays his mother. "She is one of the great comic actresses,” he says. "I shot my scenes with her first. We hadn't rehearsed and I just didn't know what to expect. The first take, the first thing that came out of her mouth was, ‘I'm just so proud of you.' It put me right in the middle of the movie.

"With Jennifer, we could do the scenes exactly the way they were scripted and she nailed it perfectly every time,” continues Angarano. "Her comedic timing is really spot-on for the character. But then we'd do the other takes where she wouldn't say anything in the script and just came up with stuff on her own. And it was equally hilarious.”

Of her young co-star Angarano, Coolidge says, "Michael does your job for you. When I was in a scene with him, I never really had to think about feeling a certain way because he just made me feel that way. He's such a talented kid.”

Working with Jemaine Clement, who plays literary has-been Dr. Ronald Chevalier, was also a highlight for Angarano. "He has such a fruitful mind, and he's so smart,” the actor says. "One of the coolest things about the movie was that everybody was on the same page, but everybody was really different in the way they worke

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