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THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN

Finding The Perfect Cast
Years ago, Peter Hedges had met Jennifer Garner through the late director Gary Winick when Winick was working with her on "13 Going on 30." "I knew Jennifer was a perfect fit for the role of Cindy Green," says Hedges. "She is as talented as she is kind. You root for her in whatever role she plays. Plus, she can move back and forth between drama and comedy so effortlessly. Her Cindy Green has so much humanity and depth."

Producer Scott Sanders adds, "We were all so excited when Jennifer became our Cindy Green. She's an incredible actress and a real mom, so we had a sense she may relate well to the character."

From her first reading of the script, Garner knew this was a film she wanted to be involved with. She was taken not only by the storytelling but by the characters of Cindy and Jim Green who wish themselves a boy at a time when they thought all bets were off on having a child. "This is the most relatable film I have ever worked on," says Garner, "because I am a parent, but also because I am a sister, a daughter, a child."

Garner has nothing but praise for Hedges as a director, saying, "Peter just has a great fondness for children and a gift for dealing with them. He is a true collaborator and I trust his eyes so much."

Finding the yin to Cindy's yang was a challenge because whoever was to play her husband Jim Green had to be a fit organically. Australian actor Joel Edgerton won the role. Says Hedges, "Joel is a man in a manly way but also has a tenderness to him and he is also incredibly funny."

Producer Jim Whitaker comments, "Joel Edgerton walked into a room, as he does, and took it over, as he does. And he connected with Jennifer during his audition reading and they had incredible chemistry. Within a minute, we just looked around and went, 'Okay here's our cast. This is the guy. This is the movie. These are the two parents you're going to root for to become great parents.' Joel has this complex and unusual quality in a leading man of being both incredibly strong and incredibly vulnerable at the same time."

The idea of the film resonated with Joel Edgerton and drew him to the project. "I love the idea that when you see this film you may walk out of the cinema and actually say life is good and being a good person is a great thing to strive for," he comments.

Regarding working with Jennifer Garner and CJ Adams as a family unit, Edgerton relates, "I never felt like I have had a solid onscreen relationship like I have with Jennifer. And on top of that, instinctively CJ Adams, who plays the title role of Timothy Green, feels like he belongs to us. The chemistry of all of us has worked perfectly for the characters we play. Jim and Cindy Green are that couple that if you ever heard they were having marital problems, you would be shocked."

Commenting on the positive family theme of the film, Edgerton says, "There are so many incarnations of family these days. There are those that have adopted children, fostered children, same-sex couple parents and single parents."

Edgerton enjoyed the collaborative approach Peter Hedges had with his actors. "Peter is a writer/director who encourages things to happen. He is open to any and all possibilities on set. This story is so life-affirming, especially with Peter at the helm," says Edgerton.

When Peter Hedges was filming "Dan in Real Life," in his ensemble cast there was a 6-year-old boy named CJ Adams. CJ's role was small; he only had a few lines, but he and director Hedges forged a special friendship.

Five years later, Hedges found himself on a nationwide search for a boy to play the title role of Timothy Green in "The Odd Life of Timothy Green." Over a thousand boys auditioned, but when casting director Bernie Telsey had 11-year-old CJ Adams come in for Timothy Green, Hedges thought that CJ did not have enough experience to play the role. After CJ's audition, Peter Hedges and Scott Sanders looked at each other. They just knew right away he was the one. "CJ had this sparkle, this vivid imagination," comments Sanders.

"There is something about CJ that can be both silly and heartbreaking," says Hedges. "This film is such a mixture of drama and comedy that our cast had to be able to switch gears at any moment."

Jennifer Garner adds, "Timothy Green is the wisest person in this story. We learn about ourselves through

Timothy. CJ is very much like Timothy and has an incredible outlook on the world. His heart is open."

CJ enjoyed working with Peter Hedges again and says of the experience: "Peter is really nice and laughs a lot. He's open to anything and he thinks of ideas that really work out well. Working with him again is so much fun because he knows me, I know him, and we both understand each other in different ways."

CJ bonded with his onscreen parents from the get-go too. It wasn't unusual to see him cuddling with Jennifer or Joel on set, or to see Joel teaching him magic tricks, or flipping him over playfully. "Being an onscreen parent has its responsibilities too," says Joel Edgerton.

Newcomer Odeya Rush plays Timothy Green's love interest, Joni Jerome, in "The Odd Life of Timothy Green." It is hard to believe that just a few years ago, this 14-year-old girl was living in Haifa, Israel, and didn't speak a word of English.

Because of Odeya's longing to be an actress, her family, which includes two sets of younger twin brothers, relocated to New Jersey, where she took English and acting lessons. "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" is Odeya's film debut. Joni is a couple of years older than Timothy and kind of a loner. Like Timothy, she has a secret, and together they find comfort and friendship in one another.

Odeya comments, "Timothy brings out the best in people. He is a 'cup is half-full' type of person."

Says producer Scott Sanders, "Odeya is radiant and beautiful in that way that Brooke Shields was in childhood. After she auditioned and knocked us all off our feet, we brought her back to read with CJ and do some improv together. There was a beautiful chemistry there. We knew we had found our leading child cast for the film."

Odeya found her first experience working on a feature film less daunting with Hedges at the helm. "You don't really know what it is like being on a movie set until it happens to you," comments Odeya. "Peter Hedges directs in such a way that you are emotionally drenched in the story. He is a friend to you and I just love that."

Some of the finest actors working today round out the cast of "The Odd Life of Timothy Green":

Double Oscar -winning actress Dianne Wiest plays Bernice Crudstaff, the uptight millionaire boss of Cindy Green who softens at the honesty of Timothy Green's life perspective. Rosemarie DeWitt plays Brenda Best, Cindy Green's perfectionist sister whose Ă¼ber sense of over-productivity has her family glowing with an annoying pride.

Says DeWitt, "All one can hope for in a family is a place where it is safe to be yourself. 'Timothy Green' is a great reminder that the best journey is the one you discover and find yourself."

DeWitt is married in real life to Ron Livingston, who plays Franklin Crudstaff, the boss at the Pencil Factory to Jim Green. Franklin takes credit for Jim's creativity, but his bullying ways eventually blow up in his face.

Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda of "In the Heights" fame plays Reggie Marks, a childhood friend of Cindy Green. As an eccentric botanist, Reggie tries to help Cindy find out the mystery of Timothy's arrival.

In his first film speaking part, Lin-Manuel Miranda says, "I would often say to Jennifer Garner on set, 'Are you wearing your comedy or tragedy pants today?' as the film so gracefully bounces between the two tones. It's a dramedy: it has some amazing, joyous moments and also some amazing, heartbreaking moments."

Continues Miranda, "We make mistakes growing up, and we make mistakes raising our children. What's fun about this movie is you see the learning curve of parenting happening." Rapper Common plays Coach Cal, who coaches the Stanleyville Erasers soccer team that Timothy Green is part of.

Says Common, "This is an inspirational story that brings a family together. It is really about love more than anything else. Kids teach us about being honest and being free." With a resume of more than 100 films to his credit, M. Emmet Walsh plays Uncle Bub, who recognizes Timothy's gifts right away. The two bond immediately with laughter, even in Uncle Bub's last moments.

Lois Smith plays Aunt Mel, Uncle Bub's wife, who is like a mother to Cindy Green. Says Smith, "Every character in this film is part of that awkward and miraculous thing we call family."

David Morse plays Big Jim, father to Jim Green. Jim is always looking for approval from Big Jim, and through Timothy's gifts they are finally able to find some common ground. James Rebhorn plays father to Franklin Crudstaff. As one of the owners of the pencil factory, he is oblivious to the dayto- day operations that it takes to run a business and is not the best communicator.

Oscar -nominated Shohreh Aghdashloo plays an adoption agency employee who listens to Cindy and Jim Green's compelling story.

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