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About The Characters
A wonder boy is someone who's had great success early in life and then has to face the fear and insecurity of forever living up to himself. This would challenge even the most mature person, not a description that applies to Grady. As director Curtis Hanson says: "‘Wonder Boys' is a coming-of-age story -- but a coming-of-age story about a guy who's 50. Grady's still finding his way and struggling to figure things out. All the characters are disparate and yet similar in certain ways. They're all mucking around trying to figure out their lives just like we all are – only they're more amusing along the way." Oscar winner Michael Douglas stars as Grady Tripp, the one-time wonder boy and darling of the literati whose unfinished novel has been growing and metastasizing for years. He's having no trouble writing the novel. He's just terrified of finishing it, afraid that it will fail to live up to his earlier masterpiece and prove that he's a has-been unworthy of his status as a cultural icon.

"‘Wonder Boys' is kind of a tragicomedy," Douglas says. "It's funny and poignant. And Grady is certainly more fun and vulnerable than characters I've played in my last couple of movies. If you've had some success in your career, it's part of your responsibility, I think, to push yourself. This role is rewarding for me and, hopefully, a surprise for audiences."

Douglas compares Grady's situation to the way he felt at age 30, when he won an Academy Award for producing "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

"I remember thinking, ‘Well, this is it -- this is the highlight of my life. It can't get any better than this.' Certainly things have gotten better, and I've had wonderful times, but I can relate to the idea of being over the hill at 25 or 30."

Tobey Maguire ("The Ice Storm") stars as James Leer, a gifted writing student Grady takes under his shaky wing. The young man also catches the eye of Grady's flamboyant editor, Terry Crabtree. Maguire describes James as a "gifted writer who lives in the world of his mind and his typewriter."

"I don't think he has social skills; he doesn't know how to relate. He's guarded and keeps his distance from kids his own age, but even with his guard up, James has a great sparkle underneath and is thrilled to be hanging around with these two older guys, Grady and Crabtree."

In this character-driven film, Grady's romantic partner is a middle-aged college chancellor played by Oscar winner Frances McDormand. McDormand's character, Sara Gaskell, is also married to the head of the English department and will be the mother of Grady's baby, if she decides to have it.

"Neither Grady nor Sara is an adolescent," McDormand says. "They're both kind of the same age and have the same experience. It's interesting to see that kind of love relationship, I think, because it's unusual in a movie yet very commonplace in the outside world."

Noting the similarity between the two lovers, Hanson says: "Grady's been allowed to coast along, as it were. He's lovable but frustrating at the same time. And Sara, in her own way, is like that. She's existed for some time in a situation that is comfortable for her. Wh

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