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BROOKLYN'S FINEST

About The Casting
With an unconventional narrative line that spotlights three lead characters, Brooklyn's Finest is supercharged with star power. Richard Gere, Don Cheadle and Ethan Hawke all eagerly signed up for the opportunity to portray the flawed men whose actions drive the film.

With a relatively modest budget and a short shooting schedule, the actors had to forego some of the perks that usually accompany their movie star status. "This was not a movie where anybody got a star trailer,” says John Thompson. "And these are guys who sometimes have a trailer for their ‘people' and another for their personal makeup. This time out, they shared two-bangers. And they got in line with their trays and ate with the crew.” Oscar nominee Don Cheadle plays Tango, an undercover cop who longs to return to a more normal life. "Guys like Tango make the best cops,” says Fuqua. "They become what they're chasing. They have the highest conviction records, but they also have the highest red marks for doing the things they shouldn't do. Tango becomes friends with a criminal. He's not a dirty cop, but he gets too close and has to choose between his job and his friend.”

Cheadle's innate intelligence and vulnerability give the character the grounded quality that Fuqua was looking for. "I didn't want Tango to be a tough guy with gold teeth acting crazy,” says the director. "Who cares about a person like that? I wanted audiences to really like this guy and see the difficulty he's dealing with internally.” For his part, Cheadle says he was attracted to the script's authenticity. "It was a really interesting story told in an interesting way. Antoine's eye for detail and specificity really helped bring it all alive.”

He was excited to take part in the film's ongoing evolution and to help define his character. "Antoine is not afraid to be collaborative,” the actor notes. "I didn't feel like I had to force myself into somebody else's vision of Tango. I could bring some of what they hired me for, which is to flesh out character.”

"And Michael Martin was always there as a touchstone,” he says. "When you're in a rehearsal period, the script changes and you're discovering new things. Antoine and Michael and the actors all worked together, recognizing that and incorporating it in all the scenes.”

Financial issues are at the heart of another of the film's storylines. Ethan Hawke plays Sal, a cop with five kids and two more on the way. "He's under pressure everyone in America can relate to right now,” says Fuqua. "He's not making enough money. These guys start off at about $25,000 a year. They run toward bullets every day. I'm not running toward bullets.

"His wife has asthma and their house has mold. He goes in to bust a drug dealer and they got maybe $250,000 on the table. All of a sudden that money starts to look like easy pickings. And once you start making bad choices, there's no turning back. You're dirty. It doesn't matter if you take $10 or $200 or $250,000, you're dirty.

"Sal needed to be a heartbreaker. He's a nice guy you could've gone to high school with and you're watching him make the wrong decisions for the right reasons. I needed him to be wired to the hilt and Ethan's good at that.”

Hawke, who earned an Oscar nomination for his role as a rookie cop in Training Day, says of his character, "Sal is a man at war with his pride. His life has been profoundly disappointing. He's worked really hard to be the man that he dreams of being, but his life still doesn't look the way he wants it to look. He should have more to show for it than he does.”

Hawke was eager to once more work with his Training Day director. "Picking up where Antoine and I left off was invaluable,” says the actor. "He's an even better director now. A lot of great art happens as people collaborate with each other over time. You believe in each other and you encourage each other and good things can hap

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