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MICKEY BLUE EYES

About the Production
Mickey Blue Eyes is the second movie to be produced through Simian Films, the production company established by Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley, under its first-look arrangement with Castle Rock Entertainment

Mickey Blue Eyes is the second movie to be produced through Simian Films, the production company established by Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley, under its first-look arrangement with Castle Rock Entertainment. The first was the thriller "Extreme Measures," starring Grant and Gene Hackman and produced by Hurley.

After "Extreme Measures," Hugh Grant took time off from acting to develop screenplays for Simian, including "Mickey Blue Eyes," a very early form of which Castle Rock showed to Grant and Hurley in 1996. At the time, the script featured an American lawyer who got involved with the Mob through his girlfriend.

By making the lead character British and turning him into an art auctioneer (a profession on which the English seem to have a monopoly in New York), Hurley and Grant saw the screenplay as a wonderful fish-out-of-water story that had tremendous potential as a starring vehicle for Grant.

"We molded the whole story for Hugh," explains Elizabeth Hurley. "The original script had an uptight American and we made him an extremely nice, dashing Englishman." They also liked the idea of Grant returning to romantic comedy, the genre for which he is probably best known.

Says Hurley, "I think people will be pleased to see Hugh being romantic again with a beautiful girl, and being very, very funny."

For almost two years Grant worked on the script with writers Adam Scheinman and Robert Kuhn. Then he and Hurley had to find a director for what would be Simian Films' first comedy.

While viewing hundreds of comedies, Hurley and Grant discovered "Brain Candy," a film starring the comedy troupe Kids in the Hall and directed by a young Canadian named Kelly Makin.

"'Brain Candy' made me howl," Grant recounts. "Later, when we met Kelly, he completely got the sense of humor of our script."

"A lot of established directors were interested in Mickey Blue Eyes," adds Hurley. "We wanted the young, fresh approach, which Kelly offered."

Initially the script attracted Makin's interest because Hugh Grant was attached. "I think Hugh is one of the only romantic leads around who can do comedy and drama," says the director. "And then, when I sat down and read the script, it was laugh-out-loud funny. You could just see Hugh in this role, in these situations. There's nothing better than Hugh Grant backed into a corner."

Hugh Grant's very English character, Michael, is forced into an unlikely teaming with Frank Vitale, the mobster father of Gina, Michael's girlfriend.

"Frank is what is known as a 'juice man,'" says Grant. "He's the guy who extracts the money when it's not forthcoming."

During their search for the right actor to play Frank, Hurley and Grant happened to bump into James Caan outside a restaurant in Los Angeles. "Suddenly there was the character we had been working with all day," says Grant. The filmmakers met with Caan not long afterward, and he was soon on board.

James Caan "brings a lot of credibility to the role," says director Makin. "But he also has a great sense of comic timing and playfulness."

"Frank is a lovable wiseguy who is constantly telling you 'don't worry, everything's okay,'"

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