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MYSTERY MEN

The Making of Mystery Men
First time directors traditionally take a safe route on their feature film debut, honing their craft on a small independent film or at least a film with a small cast

First time directors traditionally take a safe route on their feature film debut, honing their craft on a small independent film or at least a film with a small cast. Not Kinka Usher.

"I feel like Kinka and I are Siegfried and Roy," says Gordon. "We have all these tigers around us, coming from every direction. We have a large cast and numerous visual effects. We really had our hands full. I really respected Kinka's ability to step into this situation and get the job done. It's quite an accomplishment."

Stiller agreed, and says, "Kinka was like the ringleader. He's like a guy in a rodeo, trying to keep all these crazy, bucking broncos in the pen."

For Garofalo, she was impressed with Usher's ability to handle the demands placed on him by such a large ensemble cast.

"When you have a cast this size, actors as a rule tend to be bigger pains in the ass. So if you have a nice director it can turn into too many cooks in the kitchen," she says.

Reubens adds, "Kinka gave everybody the same amount of time. Well honestly I'm the director's pet, so I got a little more time than anybody else. Maybe Janeane Garofalo worked her way in. It depends on his mood. Some days Janeane's the favorite, some days I'm the favorite. Usually I'm the favorite."

For Usher, working with the actors was an unexpected surprise. "I didn't quite realize going into this movie how absolutely fulfilling it would be to work with such strong actors and be able to connect with each actor in a unique way. To have these different relationships and talk with these incredibly accomplished actors in my own language looking for the little beats and moments," he says.

Together, each actor shared in the collaborative process of creating the mood, atmosphere and comedy of the heroes in Mystery Men. They were joined by a top-notch team of creative forces behind the camera.

In the film, Champion City looks like an amalgamation of the modern-day world. The challenge for production designer Kirk M. Petruccelli was to create a fictious city, but one with traces of realism.

"We wanted to create a retro European or worldwide vibe to Champion City," Petruccelli says. "We threw in different architectural styles and color schemes to create this wonderful multi-ethnic environment where everything is different…yet with a common thread running through it."

In keeping with this desire for an international flavor, Casanova's mansion was inspired by architecture from the Spanish designer Gaudi, but the diner where Monica (Claire Forlani), a waitress who befriends Mr. Furious, works, is more akin to '40s Americana.

"I wanted the city's exteriors to feel like a Hong Kong harbor. You go visit any major city today and you will see an Asian neighborhood, a Spanish neighborhood, etc.. It's very much a reflection of society today," says Usher. "We just took it a step further and created this sort of near-future reality."

Mystery Men is a film saturated with color. Each character has their own world and each one has a color palette designed specifically for them.

Petruccelli explains, saying, "Casanova Frankenstein's world is fundamentally insane so his house is full of coloration. The Invisible Boy on the other hand, lives in a monochromatic world (his dad doesn't really see him so he<

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