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HEREAFTER

Geroge In San Francisco
"Hereafter” unfolds through the eyes of three individuals in different parts of the world. Though their lives ultimately converge, they begin their journeys alone. Matt Damon plays George Lonegan, a reluctant psychic medium trying to break free from the desperate people seeking one last moment with loved ones that have passed on.

After working with Damon on "Invictus,” Eastwood hoped to cast the actor in the film, a desire Damon echoed. "I originally thought that my schedule wasn't going to permit me to do it because I was on another movie when Clint called me,” Damon remembers. "I said, ‘Did you just call me and say you have a Peter Morgan script that you're directing? You want to offer me the part and it's going while I'm working on another movie? I'd rather be tortured than get that call,'” he deadpans. "But it worked out, luckily, because Clint is so flexible. I love working with Clint and his whole team.”

Since the story is comprised of three separate storylines in three countries, Eastwood was able to shoot the film in a way that accommodated Damon's schedule. "I thought, why not just do the two stories and then do Matt's story when he's available?” Eastwood recalls. "So, that's what we did. I'm obviously a fan of Matt's and knew he could really play the character's conflict.”

"I think Matt is emerging as one of the most important actors that we've had in a long time, when you look at the body of work and the array of roles that he's taken on,” Kennedy comments. "And one of the reasons he loves working with Clint is that there is always going to be something that he can learn from him in terms of acting or directing.”

The actor describes his character as "a very lonely guy. He has, within the last three years, made a big life change because of this ability he has to talk to people that have passed on. It's something he doesn't want, that he looks at more as a curse than a gift. It interferes with his ability to be intimate with anybody because of what he experiences when he makes any kind of physical contact with them.”

Though George is genuinely gifted, he is aware that the field of psychics and mediums is rife with phonies and the pseudo-scientific. "We try to show the legitimacy of what he does,” Eastwood notes, "as opposed to the charlatans out there. Whether there are some who are legitimate and others who are not is in the eye of the beholder, so to speak, but the story does touch on the existence of people that take advantage of those who want to make contact with what might be out there.”

One who would like to take advantage of that market is George's brother, Billy, played by Jay Mohr. "I think Billy is a natural-born hustler,” asserts Mohr. "His brother has a very special ability, and I think Billy would really like him to use it to make them both rich, even though, emotionally, it's very soul-sapping for George. But Billy is just relentless about it.”

"Casting Jay Mohr as Billy was by far the easiest job we had,” states Lorenz. "Jay came in and was a real salesman. He didn't go for any of the sappy stuff. Jay's Billy was the ideal contrast to George.”

In an attempt to move on, George enters into a tentative romance with Melanie, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, a displaced Midwesterner he meets at a cooking class. "Melanie has just moved to San Francisco because she just got dumped by someone, so she's also trying to start over,” Howard says. "When she gets paired up with George at this cooking class, he seems perfect for her. She's a little bit nervous and he's a little bit shy; they have a nice, genuine rapport. But as they get to know each other, it becomes clear that George has his secret, and Melanie has secrets of her own.”

Lorenz says Howard brought the character's vulnerability to life: "Bryce has a youthful charm and spirit that was perfect for Melanie in so many ways. And her chemistry with Matt was very strong, which we all saw in their first scene together in the cooking class. But, of course, in an emotional, heartbreaking moment, we discover that she's got a lot of turmoil in her life.”

"Meeting Melanie is an example of how George's life gets screwed up by having this talent, this clairvoyance…whatever you want to call it,” says Eastwood. "They're the kind of people you root for. You want them to be together. But, of course, there is a problem.”

"George's demon is that he literally can see people's souls,” Kennedy explains. "He can very quickly tap into things that they feel only they know. And oftentimes what he's revealing, what he's uncovering, are things that people don't necessarily want to reveal to other people.”

The one place George has always found refuge is in CD recordings of the works of Victorian novelist Charles Dickens, read by English actor Derek Jacobi. "George realizes that he's connected to this writer who's got all these ghosts in his head that are there with him all the time,” Damon remarks.

Seeking to leave his past behind, George embarks on a pilgrimage to Dickens' London home. "George is searching for a way to get beyond this situation he's been stuck in for so long,” says Lorenz.

George's journey leads him to the London Book Fair and on a collision course with the story's two other lost souls. "I think all the characters in this film are trying to re-engage in life,” Damon observes. "And George needs to come to understand the value of this gift that he has.” MARIE IN PARIS

Marie Lelay, a popular French anchorwoman and political journalist, begins her journey in a small seaside town in Southeast Asia while on a holiday with her boyfriend, Didier.

Marie is played by Belgian actress Cécile de France, who offers, "Marie is a strong, wealthy businesswoman who is in love with her job and passionate about always telling the truth in her reporting. It's why she's a good journalist and why she's so popular. She is in a relationship with the producer of her show, and theirs is the love of extremely busy people. They're not very attached to what is happening in their hearts at the beginning of the story.”

Eastwood chose de France for the role after viewing her audition tape early in the casting process. "I looked at a few people and right away, she just jumped out,” Eastwood recalls. "I wasn't familiar with Cécile prior to this, but I think she's one of the finest actresses I've worked with.” Marie's life is forever changed when she leaves her hotel to look for gifts for Didier's children in the street market. In the distance there is a roar and she turns to see a devastating tsunami thundering towards her, destroying everything in its wake. "She is absorbed by this killer wave,” de France says. "She fights to catch her breath but is dragged under. And while she is actually dying, she experiences this vision. Everything becomes quiet and completely dark; a distant light catches her eyes. Time stands still, and the light in the distance comes closer and closer. There is no sense of linear time or emotion. It's all-knowing, all-sensing.”

The sensation doesn't last, and soon Marie is gasping for breath and regaining consciousness. Eastwood says, "After that near-death experience, she goes back to Paris and back to work, but this event has disturbed every aspect of her life.”

"There is an anxiety that all human beings share when we are confronted with the mystery of death,” de France asserts. "We don't have answers to something that we cannot control. And this kind of trauma forces us to face the fact that we all die one day. Marie can't move on from what has happened to her.”

As she attempts to reintegrate back into her

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