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ANY GIVEN SUNDAY

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Despite the fact that he wrote one of Al Pacino's hallmark roles in 1983's "Scarface" (Tony Montana, the brutally ambitious Cuban immigrant), Oliver Stone had never before directed the actor on screen. "I've worked on and off with Al for years," notes the filmmaker, "initially as a writer with our first attempt to mount ‘Born on the Fourth of July' in the late 1970s (the rehearsals gave me much insight that was helpful ten years later when we actually got to do it with Tom Cruise), then as the writer of ‘Scarface' and the unrealized ‘Noriega' project. To paraphrase Nietzsche, Mr. Pacino is ‘a monster of energy.' His sweetness as a person, and the great pain which he's able to turn on and off on screen -- a refined intense instrument of acting if ever there was one."

Just as Stone was ahead of the curve when he cast Tom Cruise ("Born on the Fourth of July"), Michael Douglas ("Wall St."), Kevin Costner ("JFK"), Val Kilmer ("The Doors"), Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe ("Platoon"), and Woody Harrelson ("Natural Born Killers'), so might perceptions of Cameron Diaz and Jamie Foxx alter when audiences see their performances in "Any Given Sunday." To date, Diaz has been praised for her delightful charm in such films as "My Best Friend's Wedding" and "There's Something About Mary," and Foxx has been praised for his comedic skills on television's "In Living Color" and his own series, "The Jamie Foxx Show."

Stone sought to explore the edges of Diaz's and Foxx's skills in their respective roles as Christina Pagniacci and Willie Beamen, and was rewarded with the actors' enthusiasm for the project. "What I loved about the script and Oliver's approach to the film," Diaz says, "is that at some point you see every character's side. You may not agree, but in the end you're going to have to choose the person you want to take sides with. At some point you have to understand that Christina is representing the future. She knows the way the sport has been played over the past 30 years, as a team sport, achieving a goal together. But at this point in professional football, she knows that those days are over.

"Christina knows that it's a big money-making business with advertisements, networks, endorsements...an entertainment industry," continues Diaz. "She's trying to take advantage of that for her team so that it can keep going and start winning again."

As for Jamie Foxx, the role of Willie Beamen was a natural for him, as a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan who played the game in high school. In fact, after an initial meeting with Stone, Foxx set out to campaign for the part of Beamen. "Oliver said that he wanted to see me throw the football, so I went out and got my Cowboys jersey--Deion Sanders' number 21, one of my favorites--and my Cowboys helmet. Then I made a videotape of me throwing the ball, but like I was in a mini-training camp with my homies. We're throwing the ball on tape, and I'm talkin' trash to the camera, and on the spot I came up with a little rap for Willie...which maybe is what pushed it over for Oliver." (In fact, Foxx's "Willie Beamen Rap" would ultimately be included in one of the movie's montage sequences.)

The range of actual players who responded to the calls on "Any Given Sunday" was remarkable under any circumstances. Seven football Hall of Famers participated in the film: Jim Brown and Lawrence Taylor respectively cast in the major roles of Sharks defensive coordinator Montezuma Monroe and linebacker Luther "Shark" Lavay; and, in cameo appearances as the head coaches of each team that the Sharks oppose, Y.A. Tittle, Dick Butkus, Bob Sinclair, Warren Moon and Johnny Unitas. Added to the mix were such current or

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