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Production Information

For the past 60 years, a space-traveling smart-ass named Paul (SETH ROGEN of The Green Hornet, Knocked Up) has been locked up in a top-secret military base, advising world leaders about his kind.  But when he worries he’s outlived his usefulness and the dissection table is drawing uncomfortably close, Paul escapes on the first RV that passes by his compound in Area 51.  Fortunately, it contains the two earthlings who are most likely to rescue and harbor an alien on the run.

In the comedy-adventure Paul, best friends Graeme Willy (SIMON PEGG of Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) and Clive Gollings (NICK FROST of Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) have saved for decades to take a sci-fi fan’s trip of a lifetime: a pilgrimage to America’s UFO heartland to track the legendary hot spots of extraterrestrial activity.  But when a close encounter with Paul derails the plans…their dream vacation turns into a road trip that will rock their universe forever.

Hunted by federal agents and the fanatical father of Ruth Buggs (KRISTEN WIIG of Date Night, Knocked Up), a young woman whom they have accidentally kidnapped, Graeme and Clive hatch a fumbling plan to return Paul to his mother ship in one piece.  And as two nerds fight to help save an awesome little green man, Paul might just take his fellow outcasts from misfits to intergalactic heroes.

Directed by GREG MOTTOLA (Superbad, Adventureland) and from a screenplay written by frequent collaborators Pegg & Frost, Paul co-stars an impressive comedic supporting lineup that includes JASON BATEMAN (Hancock), BILL HADER (Pineapple Express), BLYTHE DANNER (Little Fockers), JOE LO TRUGLIO (Role Models), JOHN CARROLL LYNCH (Get Smart), JANE LYNCH (television’s Glee), JEFFREY TAMBOR (television’s Arrested Development) and SIGOURNEY WEAVER (Avatar).

Paul marks Big Talk Pictures’ NIRA PARK’s (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Hot Fuzz) fourth collaboration with Pegg and Frost as a producer.  She is joined by Working Title partners ERIC FELLNER and TIM BEVAN (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) in production duties for the film.

Mottola’s behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography LAWRENCE SHER (The Hangover, I Love You, Man), production designer JEFFERSON SAGE (Knocked Up, Funny People), Oscar®-winning editor CHRIS DICKENS (Slumdog Millionaire, Hot Fuzz), costume designer NANCY STEINER (Little Miss Sunshine, Lost in Translation) and composer DAVID ARNOLD (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Quantum of Solace).

LIZA CHASIN (Pride & Prejudice), DEBRA HAYWARD (Smokin’ Aces), NATASCHA WHARTON (Shaun of the Dead) and ROBERT GRAF (True Grit) serve as executive producers on the film.

ABOUT THE PRODUCTION

Everyone’s an Alien:

Paul Is Discovered

The notoriously rainy English climate has spoiled picnics, caused plenty of traffic jams on British highways and wreaked havoc on the schedule of more than one film production.  One of the unexpected benefits of the inclement weather, however, is that it indirectly gave rise to the comedy-adventure Paul.

During the rain-soaked shooting of Simon Pegg’s first film, the rom-zom-com Shaun of the Dead, producer Nira Park asked him what he was planning for his next project.  Fed up with rain delays, Pegg swore he wanted his next movie to be shot in a warm, dry climate.  He laughed: “Let’s make a film somewhere it never rains, like a desert.”

“That day, over lunch, Simon handed me this drawing of an alien with a tagline that read, ‘In America, everyone’s an alien,’” remembers Park.  “He said, ‘This is our next movie—a road trip with an alien.’  We talked about it a bit and how the film would be shot in the American Southwest.  After that, I pinned the piece of paper on my drawing board and kept thinking about it.  I thought, ‘What a brilliant idea.’”

In the years that passed, Pegg and his frequent director and collaborator, Edgar Wright, moved onto other projects for the production company they share with Park, Big Talk Pictures.  The most prominent of these was the action-comedy Hot Fuzz, the company’s second hit.

Park recalls: “At the end of Hot Fuzz, I reminded Simon again about the idea.  I said, ‘Why don’t you just write up the first scene…just to see?’  Simon returned 10 minutes later with a scene, and it was just fantastic.”  Park sent the copy to Eric Fellner at Working Title Films, the successful British production company that had funded Big Talk’s previous efforts.

Fellner remembers that day: “Nira sent over the treatment, and I was eager to find out what Nick and Simon were cooking up.  By its very nature, a road trip is about exploration and discovering places and people you’ve never encountered.  When I read how this concept had been married with an alien comedy, I thought it was brilliant.”

After she heard back from Fellner, Park phoned Pegg.  She recounts, “I told him, ‘He wants to do it!’ and Simon said, ‘Who wants to do what?’ and I said, ‘That thing!’  By the time we started filming, we realized it had been six years since he gave me that piece of paper.  I had it scanned and gave it to the director, Greg Mottola, on the first day of filming.”

Paul marks the first screenplay Pegg and his frequent co-star and close friend Nick Frost have written as partners.  “Nick and I have worked together for 10 years and we’ve been friends for much longer,” shares Pegg.  “The collaboration has been an interesting experience, because we’ve slightly changed the dynamic of our characters in this one.  In the other movies, which I wrote with Edgar Wright, I played the main character and Nick is the sidekick.  But this film is very much a doubleheader.  If anything, Nick’s character, Clive, is slightly more dominant and confident, whereas my character, Graeme, is a bit of a wallflower at first.”

Before putting pen to paper, Pegg and Frost set out on an actual road trip in an RV across the American West, starting in Los Angeles, California, and weaving their way through several states until they ended up in Denver, Colorado.  The excursion proved to be invaluable in the creation of the film’s story.  Ironically, they encountered terrible weather, including heavy snow and temperatures so low that their RV’s battery froze.  Nonetheless, Pegg found the trip extraordinary and inspirational.  “We learned so much about the landscape.  It was extraordinarily beautiful, hospitable and inhospitable at the same time, remarkable country.”

Another aspect they had not anticipated, according to Frost, was the scope of their undertaking.  “There’s something about the size of America for which we weren’t prepared,” he confesses.  “You look at it on a map and think ‘All right, we can probably do that in three or four days.’  Then, after a day’s driving for 10 or 11 hours, you’ve only gone 300 miles and you’ve got to travel 2,000 miles.  We did nothing but drive from eight in the morning until nine or ten at night.  Then there was the weather.  When we got to Nevada, it started snowing, and it continued for the rest of the trip.  In certain parts of Wyoming and Colorado, it got so cold the beer would freeze inside the fridge and the shampoo in the bottles.”  Frost laughs: “I think we killed the RV.”

They wove several of their experiences from the trip into the script.  “We actually went to a place called the Little A’Le’Inn, and the incident in the film with the meatheads happened to us,” recalls Pegg.  “There were these two guys who came in who were perhaps not quite as threatening as the characters in the movie, but they certainly made the atmosphere turn cold.  The bird hitting the windshield also happened.  Every day there was a new experience.  We had a real adventure.  It was vital and brilliant fun, and we never could have written the movie without it.”

Since it was a bit difficult to locate an actual extraterrestrial to take the trip with them, the duo came up with a suitable substitute.  One of Pegg’s friends sculpted a bust of an alien and called him Paul.  “All the photos they sent were framed in such a way that Paul looked like he was with them,” says producer Park.  “That inspired them, brought it to life.  They suddenly thought, ‘You know, this could really work.’”

Once the excursion was over, Pegg and Frost watched more than 50 movies about aliens and about road trips.  “Then we just sat opposite one another and banged it out, line by line,” recalls Frost.  “For a time Simon went off to do How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, and since we needed a draft of the script, I went away for a couple of weeks and wrote a big 180-page script.  When Simon returned, we took that behemoth and completely deconstructed it.  We kept what was good, and what was bad was elbowed.  Simon had a big monitor so I could see what he was typing.  We discussed every single line, sometimes for hours.”

What emerged was a comedy-adventure that is actually about more than one visitor who’s far from home.  “In one respect, everyone in this film is slightly alien,” says Pegg.  “That was a key factor in the writing: this idea of people not being where they belong and learning to live where they don’t belong.”

The search for a director began and ended when Greg Mottola was proposed.  At the time, Mottola’s only theatrical release was The Daytrippers, an independent film that Park and Pegg both hugely admired.  But he also had a new movie in the wings called Superbad, and when the comedy was screened for them, they knew they had their man.  “Greg’s films have a certain feel, a certain lightness of touch,” commends Pegg.  “He is able to bring indie feel to a more mainstream film.”

Mottola first met Pegg at a hotel restaurant in New York City the day that Superbad opened.  Pegg walked him through their concept for Paul and Mottola responded to Pegg and Frost’s story breakdown of ordinary, interesting people who find themselves in an extraordinary situation.  He offers: “Nick and Simon have created smart, interesting characters and I find them really appealing as performers.  Together, they have that special chemistry that is endlessly enjoyable to watch.  I think it’s because they’re close friends and that they make each other laugh effortlessly.”

Six months later, Mottola received the script for Paul.  He recalls: “Just as Shaun of the Dead is about zombies and Hot Fuzz is about action movies, this was an homage to late ’70s science-fiction films and the genre of science fiction in general.  This was something that had tremendous nostalgia for me.  They were writing about it from the inside as two fans of the genre.”

He decided to join the production because of his gut instinct about the material.  Mottola says: “My operating principle is that when I want to make a film, when I read a script to try and decide whether to throw my hat in the ring, I have to feel that it’s something that I am uniquely qualified to do…that I have a way of doing it that would be different than the other guy.”

Big Talk and Working Title’s subsequent meetings with Mottola only confirmed their belief that he was the right choice to craft both a comedy, as well as an actioner in which the sequences were very choreographed.  “It was clear that he got the kind of film we wanted to make,” says Park.  “Another thing that sold us on Greg is that he’s incredibly visual.  He wanted to make Paul in a very Spielberg-like manner, and the way he talked about it, we just knew that he got it.  Once we’d met Greg, we never met with anyone else.  He was very interested in character, and that was very important to us.”

Comedy Across the Sea:

Casting the Film

As Pegg sees it, the cast assembled for Paul is “a coming together of the comedy communities in the U.S. and the U.K.”  Pegg and Frost represent the British contingent, and the other principal members of the cast are notable American comic names, many of whom have previously worked with Mottola.

The director has a long history in the world of television, and that would prove quite helpful as he phoned a number of previous collaborators when casting for Paul began.  Shares Mottola: “I had made friends with all these super talented, next-generation comedy types and was in the position to be able to call them, send them the script and say, ‘Would you do this?’  I liked the idea of mixing Simon and Nick with a wave of American comedy folks, and everyone got into the spirit of what the movie is.”

Along with the human protagonists, Graeme and Clive, the crucial third member of the cast is of course Paul himself.  Though his physical presence would ultimately be the work of the CGI wizards at Double Negative, his voice needed to be very human.  Says Fellner: “We knew that the film would never work if Paul felt like a wholly CGI character.  That would immediately take people out of the movie.  He had to feel like every other actor in the film.  In every test we did, we learned that the performance of the actor had to drive the CGI…never vice versa.”

The voice that was decided upon was Seth Rogen, one of America’s top comedy stars and a performer with whom Mottola had previously worked on Superbad (which Rogen co-starred and co-wrote).  It proved to be an inspired choice, claims Frost, as the team was able to take the character in a fresh direction.  “At first, Paul was much older and grumpier, much more of a curmudgeon than he is now,” he states.

The team saw Paul as a catalyst for change in everyone around him, and Pegg and Frost liked the updates to their title character that Rogen suggested.  “Now he’s a free spirit and less of a jerk than he was when Nick and I first thought of him,” says Pegg.  “When Seth’s name came up, it seemed cool, because Seth’s got a lot of youth and vitality.  He also has this gravelly voice, and obviously he’s incredibly funny.  As soon as we started thinking about Seth, we began to adapt Paul slightly.  By the time Seth got to him, Paul had evolved into this Ferris Bueller-style sprite who changes everyone’s lives.”

In a fortuitous meeting, Rogen had actually run into Pegg and Frost years ago at San Diego’s Comic-Con and kept in touch over the years.  He found the men to be kindred spirits and enjoyed their writing and unique characterizations.  Of course, he’d worked with Mottola on Superbad, so it was an easy decision for him to join the director’s new production.

His long friendship with the director ensured that he’d be involved in bringing Paul to the screen.  Rogen offers: “I’ve known Greg for almost 10 years.  He actually directed the first thing I wrote that got made, which was an episode of Undeclared.  We got along really well, and he ended up directing a couple more episodes that I wrote of the show that season.  We became good friends and when we were finally able to get Superbad made, he was the first guy we sent it to.”

Considering that Paul crash-landed on Earth decades ago, Rogen wanted to infuse the character with a world-weary, yet relaxed sensibility of a guy who would contrast well with his uptight fellow travelers.  He says: “I thought it would be funny if these nerdy, uptight guys met up with a Neil Young-type guy who was an old hippie who’d seen it all and has a chilled-out attitude…but is also very passionate about some things.”  He adds, “Because Neil Young rocks hard and I wanted Paul to have that also.”

Rogen liked the fact that Paul changes the people around him, and he doesn’t actually change that much himself during the course of the film.  He explains their thought process as they developed Paul’s character: “Ferris Bueller is rad to begin with and rad to end with, but everyone else is a little more rad for hanging out with him for the day.  That’s what we talked about with Paul.  Graeme and Clive are incredibly nerdy and in their shell and very afraid to do anything—to go after a girl or pursue their career aspirations.  Paul coaches them through that.  Plus, these guys’ dreams come true and they meet an alien and he’s actually a fun guy to be around.  He does things like drink beer, smoke weed and make jokes.”

Mottola shares why Rogen was the ideal actor for the part: “Paul can turn invisible and heal things, but he mixes up pistachios and mussels as to which one you’ll get food poisoning from if you eat an unopened one.  He’s fallible; he’s us.  That’s something that Simon and Nick intuitively wrote, but when Seth performed it, he instantly got that about the guy.  Paul had to be very similar to a human being, and that’s simultaneously disappointing and reassuring about him.”

Casting Rogen also influenced how the character would ultimately be animated. “When we started working on him, Paul’s movements were quite big and he was doing loud and funny things,” shares Park.  “But Greg just kept bringing it back until he felt very real.  That’s when we realized what we had to do.  We knew we needed to record Seth, rehearse with him, film those rehearsals and then give them to the animators.  Seth’s own movements had to be the basis for the animation.”

Hot on the tail of both the British visitors and otherworldly kind is Special Agent Lorenzo Zoil (read that back again), who has the answers to many questions about Paul’s decades on Earth.  Jason Bateman, who dates his relationship with Mottola back to the acclaimed television series Arrested Development, stepped into the role.

Pegg was enthused when Bateman agreed to play Zoil.  “Jason is an extraordinary actor,” he compliments.  “I could watch him act forever.  He has something that is hard to put your finger on, because he’s so effortlessly good.  There’s a naturalism and a rhythm to his delivery that is unique, and he’s one of the few actors in the movie industry who can do comic and straight at the same time.”

Bateman’s ability to understand both the humorous and serious sides of a scene was welcome on set, Pegg recalls.  “When we were casting the film, I was determined that Zoil be played by someone who would be threatening and you could take seriously.  The other creative forces were saying, ‘No, he has to be funny; he has to be a comedy person.’ And I said, ‘No, the threat’s not going to be real with somebody goofing around.’  When Jason’s name came up, I liked him for it, because he can bring the fun at the same time he is being a very credible threat.  It’s also nice to see him playing someone who appears to be a bad guy.”

For his part, Bateman views Zoil as a “humorless, badass boss who’s intolerant of fools.  I felt it was important not to deviate a lot from that, which can be somewhat limiting for an actor, but in another sense is very good because it forces you to be disciplined and not chew up the scenery.  I was very pleased to be part of the ensemble of a bunch of actors I admire and filmmakers I enjoy.”

Bateman’s fellow interplanetary bounty hunters are two odd underlings named Haggard and O’Reilly, played by, respectively, Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio.  As Hader observes of the crime-busting duo, “They’re not the brightest guys, but they’re eager to please.  My character, because he’s so ambitious, slowly starts to usurp Zoil’s authority because he’s caught on that they might be looking for an alien.  It was fun to start off as a guy who straightens his tie a lot and says things like ‘We’re in the big leagues now!’  Then, as the movie goes along, he loses his mind and goes completely evil.”

Hader appreciated that the journey the characters take is similar to the one Pegg and Frost had pre-scripting the film.  “What they’ve created is a weird love letter to America and American movies,” he says.  “Paul is the kind of movie they saw in their youth and what inspired them about American culture.  It’s funny to see a British person’s point of view of our country.  There’s a lot of truth to it.  It’s subversive and very cool and smart.  There’s always another layer you don’t expect.”

Haggard’s partner in crime busting is O’Reilly, a true naïf who is trying to learn how to be a federal agent.  “O’Reilly likes the idea of being an agent but he isn’t a very good one,” notes Lo Truglio.  “He learned about it through movies and comic books.  He’s wide-eyed and adorable like a puppy dog who pees on the carpet and can’t understand why everyone’s mad at him.  He’s just having a good time and always trying to impress Agent Zoil, this cool-looking, badass agent.”

Kristen Wiig, like co-star Hader, is both a veteran of Saturday Night Live and appeared in Mottola’s recent comedy Adventureland.  She was cast as Ruth, a sheltered young woman who lives an isolated existence at an RV park with her Bible-thumping, gun-toting dad, Moses.  “Ruth changed a great deal in the last couple of months before we started production,” states Park.  “What we didn’t have in our earlier drafts was her becoming a freed version of herself, which emerged from our conversations with Kristen about the character.”

Wiig offers that filming Paul was a unique experience…and not just because of the visual effects.  “Greg and Simon and Nick made so many smart choices every step of the way.  I loved their vision.”

Ruth is the character who changes the most throughout the course of the story, which was both a pleasure and challenge for Wiig.  She contends, “It was interesting to watch Ruth have a bit of a breakdown when she sees Paul and realizes the world is more than she thought it was.  Now she has to question it.  It’s something everyone can relate to and it made her an interesting character to play, because I wanted to keep her real and funny while, at the same time, see her have this spiritual breakdown.  It’s like finding out there’s no Santa Claus.  You think one way your whole life, and then someone tells you it’s not real and you get angry and want to argue about it.  Ruth doesn’t give up her beliefs easily.  She fights for them.”

“Kristen blew me away on this film,” compliments her on-screen love interest, Pegg.  “She’s one of the most remarkable actresses I’ve ever met.  Certainly comically she’s extraordinary and beguiling, and I followed her around like a puppy the whole time because she made me laugh so much.  But she also brought a lovely gentleness to Ruth, and there were bits she made funny that we never even imagined were funny.  She just managed to instill every line with something special.”

Brought onto the production to play Ruth’s father, Moses Buggs, was veteran character actor John Carroll Lynch, known for his standout work in films including Fargo, Zodiac and Shutter Island.  Lynch was tasked with a role that could, in other hands, have been a caricature.  “Buggs is this sad character,” shares Pegg.  “He’s tyrannical, very religious, but the kind of guy who’s clearly been scared into an extreme faith.  He takes after Graeme and Clive to get his daughter back.  All us comedy people sometimes feel like we’re playacting, but when you have someone like John around, even though he does comedy so well, it’s like, ‘Wow, a real actor!’”

Lynch says he was committed to performing in Paul from the moment he finished reading the screenplay.  “My favorite part about the script was that it was a satire of science-fiction movies but, at the same time, honors everything in science-fiction movies while it makes you laugh.  That’s a terrific accomplishment.”

Comic actors Jane Lynch and Jeffrey Tambor were brought onto the production for key cameo roles.  As Pat Stevens, saucy waitress at the Little A’Le’Inn, Lynch serves up her share of homespun wisdom to Graeme and Nick as they go in search of alien revelations.  Tambor plays legendary sci-fi author Adam Shadowchild, the acerbic Comic-Con panelist (and fellow Nebulon Award winner) who serves as inspiration for Graeme and Clive’s latest work, “Jelva, Alien Queen of the Varvak.”

Rounding out the principal team were two other “real actors,” as Pegg labels them: legendary actresses Blythe Danner and Sigourney Weaver.  Danner plays Tara, a character Pegg describes as “a slightly batty old woman who lives in this house on her own and was very much a part of this story right from the very beginning.  Blythe is someone we thought of quite early on, because she’s very beautiful but she can also play slightly distracted very well.”

Rogen expands upon the role Tara plays in the world of Paul: “When Paul crash-lands on earth, he lands on this girl’s dog and she sees him.  Her whole life, she is convinced that he’s not real.  He wants to tell her that he is real and that she’s not insane.  Paul ultimately took his name from her dog because it seemed like an awesome name—one syllable.”

For Danner, director Mottola created an atmosphere that was supportive of the cast exploring their wackier sides.  She commends: “Greg gives his actors freedom to explore their characters but has a very good sense of what’s too much or not enough.  He’s such a pleasure to work with—calm, relaxed, a wonderful director.”

From the Alien series to Avatar, Sigourney Weaver has been a fan favorite of the genre for years.  It was a coup to the production when she agreed to play The Big Guy, Agent Zoil’s tyrannical and intimidating (and cryptically named) boss.  In a backstory reminiscent of Alien’s Lieutenant Ripley, The Big Guy was a character originally written as a man.  One night, over dinner, as the filmmakers were discussing possible actors to embody The Big Guy, Nick Frost suddenly said: “What if The Big Guy was a woman?”  Recalls Park of the revelation: “We thought, ‘That would be brilliant, but if she is a woman, there is only one person who could play her: Sigourney Weaver.’”

Fortunately, Weaver agreed and, according to Pegg, in addition to nailing the role, her presence also provided thematic resonance.  “She was in one of the most famous science-fiction franchises of all time, so her connection to the notion of aliens was a lovely bonus,” he enthuses.  “I was so happy when she read the script and liked it and came on.  She was totally into the fun of it, and she looked just amazing.”

Fresh off of the juggernaut Avatar, Weaver didn’t mind jumping into another alien adventure, especially with director Mottola, whose work she admired, at the helm.  She describes what else interested her in the film: “I was sent the script, which I fell in love with.  It was delicious, sweet and exciting comedy.  It picked up a little bit where Galaxy Quest left off in terms of Comic-Con and glory to the geeks.  I found it so touching and loved the love story.  I play the heavy, but you can’t have everything, you know?”

While we grow to learn that Zoil has been sent by The Big Guy to apprehend Paul before he can hop on his mother ship, her character remains mysterious until the end.  Explains Weaver: “She clearly has very sour feelings about Paul.  She feels that he’s been freeloading on the American public for a long time and wants to be rid of him.  Why shouldn’t she be hanging out with Spielberg?  Why should this little guy?  There’s no love lost between them.  She suddenly realizes that she has an opportunity to squash him and wants to take advantage of it through her very dependable underling, Zoil.”

The Many Faces of Paul:

Building an Alien

When Mottola was first approached about directing Paul, he admits he was nervous to helm a project in which the main character was wholly CGI.  “Now that I’m done with the animation,” he admits candidly, “I didn’t know how scared I should be.  It’s hard to pull off full-on, complete animation. You’re deciding every time your character blinks, every time it smiles, what kind of smile it is and whether its Adam’s apple is going to move or not.  It’s a long way from the stop-motion animation I did as an eight-year-old with my Super 8 camera.”

Though Paul is purposefully intended to resemble the classic alien ingrained in our collective psyche, it was still crucial to make him as human as possible. “We had to create an alien that for all intents and purposes is a human being in his behavior and just happens to look like an alien with certain abilities,” Mottola states.  “But for 90 percent of the screen time, he’s just a guy in a car hanging out.  We wanted to try and make a guy that the audience cared about who was still irritating at times—human, surprising, emotional and difficult.”

Fortunately, he had the brilliant assistance of the team at Double Negative, who worked on the effects for Big Talk and Working Title’s last two collaborations, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.  As did their director, they knew that crafting an entirely computer-generated character who is on-screen for so much of the film would be vastly challenging.

As his crew began to imagine Paul, Mottola and his team attacked it from a few different directions.  He says, “We designed a CG version of Paul that was not completely satisfying, so we brought in a practical effects company that has this talented sculptor who sculpted Paul out of clay first.  He created a miniature size of Paul until we got a rough design we thought was good, and then he did a life-size version.

“The idea we talked about was how Paul was the evolutionary product of human beings a billion years from now,” Mottola continues.  “As our brains get bigger, we have less and less of a reason to be physically stronger because we’re smarter and can utilize technology.  Our bodies would shrink in proportion, and we would evolve into this thin creature.  This sculptor cracked it, got into the details and improvements of our CG version.  From Paul’s little cranial depressions to the shape of his chin and the way his eyes sat in his head, it was perfect.”

From there, the team created an animatronic Paul that was beneficial in determining what the wiseass humanoid would look like whenever he moved.  After that, they built a puppet incarnation (complete with hands) that would be used for close-ups.  They knew they needed this version because every time Mottola and cinematographer Lawrence Sher would physically be shooting a scene in which the character was included, they had to have a practical double for eye-line reference and movement purpose.

According to visual effects supervisor JODY JOHNSON, creating this unique character was a multipronged effort.  Johnson begins: “First we worked closely with Greg to get inside his mind and find out how he saw Paul, and then with Seth, who voiced the character and with whom we did a lot of performance and character work.”

During the motion-capture (mo-cap) stage of preproduction, Seth Rogen spent several weeks giving a performance as the alien that the team recorded.  He ran each of the scenes multiple times in rehearsal to ensure the animators had all the physical references they needed to craft Paul.  To ensure that the follow-up movements during production were flush, the stand-ins that were used based their actions, mannerisms and inflections on the filmed references of Rogen.  Then, Rogen returned for days of ADR.

The actor offers his take on the first stages of production, noting that he didn’t want Paul to have a stereotypical stiff personality of a stereotypical alien.  He says, “In the motion capture, I thought it would be funny if Paul moved as much like me as possible.  I tried to make it extra casual, like he was a little drunk and stoned all the time.  I was amused by the fact that we were taking this insane technology and applying it to something so casual.”

To act in a bubble was initially a challenge for the comic performer.  But he was up for it.  “I like that you can keep working on the performance and keep refining it,” he says.  “I appreciate that it’s different than live action.  We looked at every scene in the movie and would say, for example, ‘Paul needs to make a noise there.’  We tried to make every little sound or action he has seem more genuine.  It helps sell the illusion that much more.”

The lion’s share of Double Negative’s efforts would be the team’s translation of Paul to the screen—and putting this CG character in a real environment so that he would be completely convincing throughout the film.  “It required lighting Paul in a very naturalistic way so he would be integrated with everyone else’s performance,” says Johnson.

Sums Johnson’s colleague, visual effects producer HAL COUZENS: “This is a film that can’t look like a visual effects film.  It has to look like a film with three guys in it and supporting cast and characters.”

Not as easy as it sounds, since Paul utilized much handheld camera work, Steadicam and crane shots.  The first stage required working closely with director of photography Sher to get just the right shots.  “We had a lighting puppet of Paul [created by Spectral Motion], and every scene we shot we put the lighting puppet in.  Larry set up the lighting to give Paul a framework and make him appear realistic among the other characters,” says Johnson.  “Then I shot a reference of the lighting puppet that I took back to Double Negative so it could be used to base the CG lighting on.”

In addition to his day job as Agent O’Reilly, Lo Truglio would be enlisted for another, no less important assignment on the film.  He served as a performance stand-in for Paul when the alien was needed on set for reference purposes (and when the lighting puppet was no longer required).  Many actors have stand-ins on a movie set; that’s nothing new.  But a CG character?

“What concerned us at the start,” reflects Park, “was that it’s important in comedy to be able to react off someone.  At first, we couldn’t quite work out how to do it.  We realized that it was essential to have a comic performer for Simon and Nick and the others to act with.  When Joe’s name came up, we thought, ‘Why would he want to hang around to do that?’  It’s slightly schizophrenic going from playing O’Reilly to getting on your knees with kneepads and delivering Paul’s lines.  But Joe said yes and was just absolutely perfect for it.”

Lo Truglio recounts his time on set as a little green man: “Paul was a tricky character because we needed to have the same empathy and compassion for a CGI character that we would have for a human.  There were quite a number of people needed to make that happen.  The first, of course was, Seth, who is Paul and had to wear the motion capture suit.  Then afterwards there were the visual effects guys over at Double Negative.  I was there for Seth’s rehearsal and watched what he was doing.  During production I tried to combine what Seth did to get a reaction from Simon and Nick, so they weren’t talking to someone who wasn’t there.  It was a challenge as an actor because the whole exercise was about creating this alien that is an amalgam of everyone’s input.  It was quite amazing.  And I got a lot of mileage out of my kneepads, too.”

While Lo Truglio served as Paul’s performance stand-in, CHRISTOPHE ZAJAC-DENEK served as Paul’s action double.  When there was any complex choreography required, Mottola and Sher worked that out with the actors and secured all the camera moves, so it looked as if Paul was actually there.  Then, both the puppet and Zajac-Denek were taken out of the scene and it was shot again with only the actors.

Briefly, there was a fourth Paul, a six-year-old named Tanner, who is the son of the movie’s stunt coordinator.  The young actor gladly stepped in for one scene in which Paul jumps on Agent Zoil.  Says Couzens:  “We felt that if Jason just pretended to have somebody on him it wouldn’t look realistic.  So we dressed Tanner in a green suit and he fearlessly leapt on Jason and clung to him for dear life.  Jason was wriggling around under him, and it was a brilliant interaction.  Later, we replaced Tanner with the CG Paul.”

Indeed, the only diva performer on the set of the film was the title character himself.  Of the process, Mottola laughs: “We’d shoot a rehearsal with Joe, shoot a rehearsal with someone carrying a little gray ball around for lighting reference, then we’d have to shoot stills of the set with no one in it.  And then, often we’d do a version with the puppet, then without the puppet, hoping the puppet would work.  But just in case it didn’t, we didn’t want to have to paint it out.”

Once the lighting and performances were both addressed, the last reference was the entire physical environment in which Paul would exist.  Explains Johnson: “For that we used a Leica Total Station, which is a surveying device that enabled us to fire lots of lasers to generate a 3D model of what the camera was filming.  Beyond that, we did environment lighting, using a technique called HDRI lighting—a 360-degree stitched plate that we shot with a stills camera with a very high dynamic range.”  The primary reason for this was that, as in any film, the lighting and surrounding weather conditions change with every shot.  If the team didn’t match it perfectly, Paul wouldn’t seamlessly fit in to the world that Graeme and Clive inhabited.

The finished product amazed cast and crew alike.  Sums Mottola: “Where the team animates Paul rubbing his neck, they made his tendons snap and his thumb come around the side of his neck.  It’s amazing that what we respond to…it’s what happens in our peripheral vision when we look at a character on screen that actually sells it.  It’s not what you’re looking directly at.”

No matter how good the special effects in Paul, the story’s credibility requires that everyone involved believed in the possibility of aliens, starting with the film’s co-creator and star Pegg.  “Yes, I think there are aliens out there,” he says.  “There have to be.   There are billions upon billions of planets and stars.  I just hope they’re a little like Paul.”

Travelin’ America:

Design and Locations

While Greg Mottola has won respect for his fluid visual style as a comedy director, a comedy-adventure such as Paul required an expanded vision.  For visual reference, Mottola drew from the work of Steven Spielberg—everything from the director’s film debut, The Sugarland Express, to his sci-fi masterpieces Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.

But Mottola’s vision, while containing the high-gloss elements of Spielberg, also incorporates a ragtag look that keeps this production true to his roots as an independent filmmaker from such productions as The Daytrippers.  Such visionary ambitions would seem to be at odds with characterizations of “laid-back” and “easygoing,” which are how cast and crew describe Mottola.  Yet, it fits precisely with the kind of confidence Mottola displayed in his overall vision.

The director’s calm demeanor was even more remarkable in light of the fact that, despite the genesis of Paul as a film Pegg wanted to shoot anywhere but underneath England’s rainy umbrella, the weather throughout the shoot remained unpredictable.  “We had hail storms and lightning and far more rain than we had back in England,” shares Park.  “The original idea came from wanting to shoot in America, where the weather would be good.  Instead we were challenged every day by the weather.”

Pegg admits he traded the challenges of one inclement climate for another: “We wound up shooting in one of the most changeable places in the world.  It would be blazing sunshine one minute and 20 minutes later there’d be hailstones the size of golf balls.  Sometimes we had to take cover due to lightning storms.  There was even a device on set to ensure we were a safe distance away from electrical storms, because apparently a lot of people get struck by lightning in New Mexico.”

Of course, a director’s vision is only as good as the people who execute it, and Mottola assembled a crackerjack team of behind-the-scenes wizards to realize the deceptively complex challenges of creating the world according to Paul.

Though the film is set in various areas of the American Southwest—from Comic-Con in San Diego to the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming (famously used in Close Encounters of the Third Kind)—Paul was shot almost exclusively in New Mexico.  Concocting a convincing landscape that fit all the script’s demands would be easier than one might imagine.  In fact, within one hour’s drive of Santa Fe can be found the type of harsh desert that feels like Nevada, as well as mountains that would make the observer swear he or she was in Wyoming or Colorado.  The road trip was born.

One of the first steps in coordinating this visual sleight of hand began as Mottola, production designer Jefferson Sage and line producer/executive producer Robert Graf sat down with J. TODD ANDERSON, the storyboard artist who has worked for Joel and Ethan Coen for many years.  A key part of Mottola’s early process in conceptualizing the movie and translating the script into visual terms, Anderson worked with the director for approximately three months to storyboard the film.

Making the storyboards three-dimensional and bringing visual texture to Paul was the task at hand for Sage, with whom Mottola had previously collaborated on the cult television comedy series Undeclared.  For a road-trip picture that covers a lot of territory, it is decidedly curious that one of his primary functions was to create the movie’s main set, a battered recreation vehicle.  Still, Sage explains: “The RV is where we spend most of our time and where most of the action occurs.”

Naturally, the look of the RV needed to match the eccentric characters driving it.  “We agreed that it should be an older-style vehicle since these guys wouldn’t go top-of-the-line and were probably on a bit of a budget,” explains Sage.  “We started looking at RVs from the ’70s and ’80s.”  The finished product, known in the script as a Beagle Traveler, was an amalgam of two models: a late-’80s vintage Winnebago (whose silhouette served as the vehicle’s exterior) and another RV called a Bounder (the majority of which was used for fashioning the interiors).

Two functioning RVs were utilized for the road scenes, and a third was crafted for sequences shot on a soundstage.  This final RV was known as the Hero RV because all its interior parts could be removed to allow the camera and crew to light it and shoot in it.

A much broader challenge was re-creating the biggest comic convention on the planet, San Diego’s Comic-Con, using the 100,000-square-foot Albuquerque Convention Center to serve as Comic-Con’s double.  Dressing the set to look like the real thing involved countless clearances from the many participants and stakeholders of the actual event.

Re-creating the behemoth annual convention was a labor of love for Mottola’s cast and crew.  He provides: “We all had fun with Comic-Con.  We all grew up on comic books and science fiction and just wanted to get it right.  We didn’t want it to become a cheap joke, and we knew it had to look like the real thing.”

To stand in for Wyoming, regions of the small town of Las Vegas, Nevada, were used and a large, open meadow in the mountainous regions near Santa Fe served as the site of Wyoming’s Devil’s Tower, with the iconic tower later added by the visual effects team.  This meadow was also where Sage built the bottom half of Paul’s spaceship.  Similar to the tower, the VFX team also later digitally created the top of the craft.

A different kind of visual trickery was required for Pegg and Frost to visit the Vasquez Rocks outside Los Angeles.  Famously used in a classic Star Trek sequence, the geologic formation was a logical draw for studied geeks Graeme and Clive.  Sage sent a second unit crew to capture exteriors of the Vasquez Rocks.  Back in New Mexico, Mottola and DP Sher shot Pegg and Frost’s movements as Graeme and Clive.  Then, much like a composite photograph, the two scenes were married.

As well, Sage fashioned the mysterious White Mailbox that once stood on the road near the infamous Area 51 in central Nevada.  To set the scene, he used a barren stretch of desert highway in New Mexico that closely resembled this region of Nevada.

Sage found a kindred spirit in his efforts in Mottola, who went to art school before becoming a director.  “With Greg’s art school background, he was very involved in the visuals and the images he wanted in the movie and how they could also be layered with comedy,” the production designer notes.  “We ended up with a modern concept of what science fiction is…a romantic version of it.”

Special-effects coordinator LARZ ANDERSON knew his work would be cut out for him after he finished Pegg and Frost’s SFX-laden screenplay.  “This was one funny script, but it had a lot of interesting challenges,” he states.  “We had a house to blow up, which is always fun, and we got to set off fireworks in the middle of a national forest, which is problematic to say the least…but oh so interesting.”

Among his less exotic assignments was to make the soundstage RV move as if it were on the open road…with Paul, Graeme and Clive flying down the highway.  “We built a two-axis gimbal on airbags so we could shake it,” says Anderson.  “With pneumatic rams we added braking so when the characters slammed on the brakes, the whole vehicle went forward while we dumped out some cabinets so things fell on them.  It was quite dramatic.”

Much more fun, Anderson admits, was the gas explosion at a farmhouse, a major set piece in the film.  The stunt was broken down into two elements.  On a soundstage, propane mortars were put inside the stove to create a controlled fireball that gave an inside look at the explosion from within the house.  Then, on location, the specially built house was constructed with a thin frame so it would blow up easily without having to be overloaded with explosives.  “This way,” Anderson points out, “we could make it collapse into a pile of rubble at the end.”

Even more daunting was the aforementioned shooting off of fireworks in a national forest, which required a heavily concerted effort between the locations department and the U.S. Forest Service.  The SFX coordinator recounts: “We showed them demonstrations of what we were going to do and ended up bringing in a fire crew to stand by and check on moisture levels and scout the fallout zone afterwards to make sure it was all safe.   In the end, it went off rather well.”


Geek Chic:

Costumes of the Comedy-Adventure

Costume designer Nancy Steiner is no stranger to the needs of movies set in the present, though this one did dramatically expand her knowledge of cotton T-shirts.  “Graeme and Clive are comic-book geeks, so they don’t have a lot of fashion sense,” she says.  “But they are aware of what they’re wearing.  They’re very proud of their comic books and sci-fi T-shirts.”

Most of her work for the two characters involved navigating “the hell of clearances” in order to dress the characters in visually arresting tee-tops.  One coup was getting permission from Lucasfilm to use Star Wars-themed tees.  Her team also received a terrific image from Dan Clowes, creator of the character Eightball and a T-shirt with the image of Ming the Merciless from “Flash Gordon” and Project Superpowers from the graphic novel “Dynamic Forces.”

Steiner was fortunate that most of the dozens of extras for the Comic-Con scenes came prepared with their own costumes (translation: well-worn, awesome nerd shirts, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, Stormtrooper, various sci-fi and Anime character costumes).  She found these more authentic because they were made with love and passion and were quite individual.

Offers Mottola: “When we started I was adamant that what the costumes people wore had to feel real.  These had to be a mix of the people who either spent the money to get an expensive Stormtrooper outfit or spent the time to do it right and make their own thing and put a lot of love into it.  I didn’t want it to feel entirely like rented costumes.  Little did I know, the people who go to Comic-Con who live in New Mexico were more than happy to show up in their full array of space gear.  We had any number of Anime characters and Star Trek and Star Wars folks from all over the state.  Some drove themselves in from neighboring states because they wanted to be part of it.”

Mottola was particularly amazed at the rights his designers were able to secure from enormous franchises.  “It was amazing to get Lucasfilm to let us use Star Wars and Paramount Pictures to let us use Star Trek characters, copyrighted images, throughout the film.  They were incredibly generous and got the joke of the movie.  They were completely on board with the spirit of it.”

Designer Steiner also had the unique assignment of outfitting the CGI character Paul.  “He wears shorts and flip-flops, but we had to camera test a number of shorts before we found the right ones to go with the color of his skin.  We also got together a little cowboy outfit for him to wear when he’s in disguise.”

Though most of the characters in the film wear one or two outfits throughout—very much in keeping with their backgrounds and careers—Ruth undergoes an evolution in the movie and Steiner subtly traces it through her apparel choices.  “She’s very conservative and not very current in her clothing, but I didn’t want to make her buttoned-up and clichéd at the start.

When the boys meet (before they accidentally kidnap) Ruth, she’s wearing tees with the caption “Evolve this!” and a picture of Jesus ready to attack Darwin.  These reflect the extreme of her anti-evolutionary beliefs.  But as she changes, so does her look, which becomes a bit looser and a little sexier.  “Just a bit,” mentions Steiner.  “Not too much.  We didn’t want her to get too trashy.”

****

Universal Pictures presents—In association with Relativity Media—A Working Title Production—In association with Big Talk Pictures: Paul, starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Blythe Danner, John Carroll Lynch, with Sigourney Weaver and Seth Rogen as Paul.  The music is by David Arnold, and the costume designer is Nancy Steiner.  Paul’s editor is Chris Dickens, ACE, and its production designer is Jefferson Sage.  The director of photography is Lawrence Sher, and the executive producers are Liza Chasin, Debra Hayward, Natascha Wharton, Robert Graf.  The comedy-adventure is produced by Nira Park, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, and it is written by Simon Pegg & Nick Frost.  Paul is directed by Greg Mottola.  ©2011 Universal Studios.  www.whatispaul.com


ABOUT THE CAST

SIMON PEGG (Graeme Willy/Written by) was recently seen in John Landis’ Burke & Hare and voiced the character Reepicheep in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  He was also seen boldly going in to the J.J. Abrams-directed Star Trek, playing the iconic role of Montgomery Scott (“Scotty”), and heard as one of the new lead voices in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, playing Buck.

Pegg co-wrote and co-starred (as Tim Bisley) in the worldwide acclaimed, cult television show Spaced.  After two groundbreaking seasons, he moved on to develop and co-write, with Edgar Wright, the critically praised Shaun of the Dead, starring as the eponymous hero, Shaun.  The film has since been voted by many as one of the Best British Comedies ever made, including Empire magazine and Channel 4.

After conquering zombies, award ceremonies and the USA, Pegg and Wright reprised their debut movie success with the smash-hit follow-up feature Hot Fuzz, in which Pegg starred as übercop Nicholas Angel.

Pegg went on to star in the David Schwimmer-directed feature film Run Fatboy Run, and as the antihero, Sidney Young, in How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, alongside Kirsten Dunst and Jeff Bridges.

Pegg is currently shooting Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, in which he reprises his Mission: Impossible III character, Benji, and recently wrapped Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.

NICK FROST (Clive Gollings/Written by) first came to prominence as the gun-mad character Mike Watt in Channel 4’s Spaced.

Since then, Frost has become one of the U.K.’s most sought-after actors.  He earned a nomination for Most Promising Newcomer by the British Independent Film Awards for his role in the cult zombie movie Shaun of the Dead, starring opposite Simon Pegg. Frost again starred with Pegg in the hugely successful hit comedy Hot Fuzz, and will also be seen, alongside Pegg, in the upcoming Steven Spielberg film The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.  Frost’s other film credits include Kinky Boots, Penelope, Wild Child and Pirate Radio.

Frost demonstrated his acting credentials in the BBC’s adaptation of Martin Amis’ best seller “Money.” Amis added his voice to the critical approval Frost garnered for the role.  He has also appeared in the Channel 4 sitcom Black Books, with Dylan Moran and Bill Bailey, and hosted the Channel 5 series Danger! 50,000 Zombies! and Danger! Incoming Attack! Frost was the lead role in Hyperdrive, a sci-fi comedy series for BBC Two, and starred in two seasons of Man Stroke Woman.

Actor, producer and director JASON BATEMAN (Agent Zoil) was honored with a Golden Globe Award in 2004 for Best Actor in a Comedy Series, and earned an Emmy Award nomination and two Screen Actors Guild nominations for his irreverent portrayal of Michael Bluth in the Mitchell Hurwitz-created, multi-award-winning comedy series Arrested Development.  Since then, Bateman has attained leading-man status on the big screen while returning to his roots in television by continuing to produce, write and develop projects for the small screen. One can easily surmise by the prestigious array of studios, directors and producers that are hiring Bateman, that he is a valuable commodity.

While Bateman’s starring role in the Emmy Award-winning FOX comedy series Arrested Development brought a newfound appreciation from the public, it also caught the attention of the motion picture industry and reinvigorated their interest in Bateman.?Since the show ended in 2006, Bateman has secured one major film role after the next.

Bateman will also co-star as Nick in the Warner Bros. ensemble comedy Horrible Bosses, alongside Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis.  Horrible Bosses follows three friends who conspire to murder their awful bosses when they realize they are standing in the way of their happiness.  The film is directed by Seth Gordon and is slated for release on July 29, 2011.

Also in 2011, Bateman will be seen, opposite Ryan Reynolds, in the Universal Pictures comedy, The Change-Up, as a responsible family man who switches bodies with his lazy best friend.  The film is directed by David Dobkin.

Bateman is also producing and starring in a film for Universal Pictures, which is based on an original idea of his, called The Remarkable Fellows, which Joe Carnahan is writing and directing.  Bateman reteams with Carnahan after working with him on Universal Pictures’ Smokin’ Aces, in 2006.  The film is an action-comedy about two elite revenge specialists who are hired by the most powerful and wealthy people all over the world to exact revenge on those who have wronged them.  The film is currently in development.

In August 2010, Bateman starred with Jennifer Aniston in the Mandate Pictures romantic-comedy film The Switch, in which he played the lead role Wally, the best friend who kept a life-changing secret from Aniston’s Kassie.

In 2009, Bateman completed one of his busiest years yet.  In December, he was seen in a supporting role, opposite George Clooney, in the Golden Globe- and Academy Award®-nominated Up in the Air, for Paramount Pictures and director Jason Reitman. Bateman made a memorable turn as Craig Gregory, the brash head of a corporate-downsizing company set on revolutionizing the industry.  In October, he co-starred alongside Vince Vaughn, Kristen Bell, Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis and Malin Akerman in Couples Retreat.  Bateman starred as the neurotic and overachieving Jason, who is married to Bell’s Cynthia.  In Couples Retreat, the couple is on the brink of divorce and convinces their friends to travel to Bora Bora to try to revive their stale marriages.

In September 2009, Bateman headlined the Miramax feature Extract as Joel Reynolds, the owner of an extract manufacturing plant overcome by a comedic series of personal and work-related problems.  Extract was directed by Mike Judge and produced by Bateman through his F+A Productions banner.  Bateman also had a memorable cameo in the Ricky Gervais-penned and -directed comedy, The Invention of Lying.

In April 2009, Bateman delivered an emotionally charged performance as a political press agent in the crime drama State of Play, directed by Kevin Macdonald for Universal Pictures.

On the small screen, Bateman’s company F+A Productions secured a first-look production deal to develop, direct and write original content for 20th Century Fox Television.  The deal came to fruition after Bateman directed the comedy pilot Do Not Disturb for the network, which premiered in the 2008 fall lineup.  Bateman also reteamed with his Arrested Development creator Mitchell Hurwitz to voice a character in the FOX animated comedy series, Sit Down, Shut Up, which premiered in April 2009.  In the summer of 2009, Bateman directed and produced the FX Networks pilot The Merger.

In 2008, Bateman co-starred in the Peter Berg action film Hancock, alongside Will Smith and Charlize Theron.  Hancock became one of the top box-office openings worldwide in 2008, and came on the heels of one of the biggest success stories in independent filmmaking with Fox Searchlight’s gem, Juno, in which Bateman had a pivotal role as the potential, yet uncertain, adoptive father to Juno’s unborn child.? Directed by Jason Reitman, the film was nominated for Best Picture by most major film critics’ groups, as well as by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  In 2007, Bateman co-starred opposite Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper and Jennifer Garner in the Universal Pictures drama The Kingdom, an action-thriller set in Saudi Arabia and directed by Peter Berg.

Prior to this, Bateman starred opposite Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman in the Fox/Mandate Pictures family-fantasy film Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium for ingenue director and writer Zach Helm.

Bateman’s other recent film roles include starring with Zach Braff and Amanda Peet in the Miramax comedy The Ex, and a supporting role in The Break-Up, again with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston.  Prior to that, he portrayed a loose-lipped sports commentator in 20th Century Fox’s comedy Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, starring Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller.  Bateman also co-starred in the Warner Bros. film Starsky & Hutch, opposite Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn.  In 2002, he starred with Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate and Selma Blair in the romantic comedy The Sweetest Thing.

Dating back to his adolescent and teenage years, Bateman’s portrayal of the charming schemer Derek Taylor on Silver Spoons prompted NBC to create the spin-off, It’s Your Move, starring Bateman.  He then starred with Valerie Harper in her serial series Valerie, Valerie’s Family and The Hogan Family from 1986 through 1991 and, prior to that, was a series regular on the iconic television series that has become an American treasure, Little House on the Prairie.

In January 2010, Bateman and his longtime friend and Arrested Development co-star, Will Arnett, announced the creation of their digital-driven production company, DumbDumb Productions.  Working alongside Electus, DumbDumb Productions allows Bateman and Arnett to produce commercials, shorts and original content to be distributed on the Internet and for the film industry.

Bateman currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife, Amanda Anka, and their daughter, Francesca.

A comedic star born from the Saturday Night Live (SNL) stage, KRISTEN WIIG (Ruth) has become one of the most sought-after talents in film and television today.  Wiig recently earned her second Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her incredible work on Saturday Night Live, playing such memorable characters as the excitable Target clerk, Lawrence Welk singer Dooneese, the hilarious one-upper Penelope, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Suze Orman, among others.

Wiig was recently seen in Andrew Jarecki’s All Good Things, opposite Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst and Frank Langella; contributed her voice to Universal Pictures’ animated feature film Despicable Me, starring Steve Carell and Jason Segel; and was seen in MacGruber, based on the popular Saturday Night Live sketch, starring opposite fellow SNL cast member Will Forte and Ryan Phillippe.  Her upcoming films include the following Bridesmaids, which she co-wrote with Annie Mumolo and stars in for director Paul Feig.  It is scheduled for release on May 13, 2011.

Wiig made her big-screen debut to universal high praise as Katherine Heigl’s passive-aggressive boss in Judd Apatow’s smash-hit comedy Knocked Up.  Her additional film credits include DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon, with Gerard Butler and Jay Baruchel; Mike Judge’s Extract, with Jason Bateman, Ben Affleck and Mila Kunis; Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut Whip It, starring Ellen Page; Greg Mottola’s Adventureland, with Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg; David Koepp’s Ghost Town, with Ricky Gervais; and Jake Kasdan’s Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, another Apatow-produced film in which she starred opposite John C. Reilly.  She has also guest-starred on the Emmy-winning NBC series 30 Rock and the HBO series Bored to Death, with Jason Schwartzman, and The Flight of the Conchords.

A native of Rochester, New York, Wiig worked as a main company member of the Los Angeles-based improv and sketch comedy troupe The Groundlings.  As a Groundlings alumna, she joins the ranks of such SNL cast mates as Maya Rudolph, Will Ferrell, Phil Hartman and Jon Lovitz.

Wiig currently resides in New York City.

BILL HADER (Haggard) joined the cast of Saturday Night Live (SNL) in the 2005-2006 season.  Heralded by New York magazine as “SNL’s new secret weapon,” Hader boasts “impersonations and sarcasm delivered with eviscerating deftness.”

Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Hader co-starred in the Judd Apatow-produced comedy hits Superbad, for director Greg Mottola, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, for director Nicholas Stoller.  He also appeared in Apatow’s Knocked Up.

Hader appeared in two of summer 2008’s biggest comedies: Tropic Thunder, directed by Ben Stiller, and Pineapple Express, directed by David Gordon Green.  He worked again with Greg Mottola in the Miramax feature Adventureland, starring Ryan Reynolds and SNL cast mate Kristen Wiig.

Hader was recently seen playing General Custer as part of the all-star cast of the box-office hit Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, for director Shawn Levy.  He also voiced the lead character in Sony Pictures Animation’s feature Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.

His upcoming films include Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, in which he reprises his role as the voice of Hansel.

BLYTHE DANNER (Tara) received a Tony Award for her Broadway debut in Butterflies Are Free and has received nominations for her roles as Emma, in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal; as Blanche DuBois, in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire; and as Phyllis, in Stephen Sondheim’s Follies.  She also received a Drama Desk nomination for Suddenly Last Summer, at the Roundabout Theatre Company, and appeared on Broadway, opposite Geraldine Page, in Blithe Spirit.

Danner won two Emmy Awards for her role on Showtime’s Huff, and she garnered an Emmy nomination for Joyce Carol Oates’ We Were the Mulvaneys and two Emmy nominations for Will & Grace.  She also received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Anne Tyler’s Back When We Were Grownups.

Her other television credits include HBO’s Judgment, with Keith Carradine; A Call to Remember, with Joe Mantegna; Cruel Doubt; Guilty Conscience, with Anthony Hopkins; and Inside the Third Reich, with Sir John Gielgud.  On PBS, Danner was seen in Chekhov’s The Seagull, George Bernard Shaw’s Candida and Tennessee Williams’ Eccentricities of a Nightingale.

For more than 20 years, Danner has performed at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts.  She played Beatrice to Kevin Kline’s Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, for The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park, and she has appeared in such regional companies as the Mark Taper Forum; the Trinity Repertory Company; BAM, with Sarah Jessica Parker in A.R. Gurney’s Sylvia, at the Manhattan Theatre Club; and three productions for the Roundabout Theatre Company.  She won a Theatre World Award for her role in The Miser, with the repertory company at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Danner’s film credits include Waiting for Forever, with Richard Jenkins; The Lightkeepers, with Richard Dreyfuss; The Great Santini, with Robert Duvall; Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers, with Robert De Niro; Mr. & Mrs. Bridge, with Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman; Barbra Streisand’s The Prince of Tides; Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs; and three Woody Allen films.  She also appeared in Sylvia with her daughter, Gwyneth Paltrow.  Her upcoming projects include What’s Your Number?, with Anna Faris, and she is currently working on The Lucky One, for Warner Bros.

Danner was awarded the inaugural Katharine Hepburn Medal from Bryn Mawr College’s Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center.  She attended the George School in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and holds honorary doctorate of fine arts degrees from Williams College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges and her alma mater, Bard College.
She has been involved with environmental issues for more than 35 years and serves on the advisory boards of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Environmental Media Association in Los Angeles, the Environmental Advocates of New York and Energy Vision in New York.  She also serves on Planned Parenthood’s board of advocates.  Danner is a member of the advisory board of The Oral Cancer Foundation, which supports the Bruce Paltrow Fund, named for her late husband.

Born in Boulder, Colorado, JOHN CARROLL LYNCH (Moses Buggs) spent the first eight years of his career as a member of the Guthrie Theater Company in Minneapolis, performing more than 30 roles.  Lynch landed his first major film role as Norm, Frances McDormand’s duck-obsessed husband in the Coen brothers’ Academy Award®-winning Fargo in 1996.  Since then, Lynch has worked steadily in film, television and theater, playing characters ranging from small town sheriffs, both lovable and evil, to doctors, killers, perplexed fathers, aggravated brothers, frustrated husbands, a big-city banker, a wealthy suburban real-estate developer, Southerners, Northerners, Westerners and Easterners.  He even played an old-fashioned, conservative, small-town heterosexual cross-dresser, who, by the way, got the girl.  If there are two things consistent about Lynch’s career, they are the extreme diversity of the characters he plays and the ease with which he traverses from thriller to mystery to melodrama, as well as all kinds of comedy.

A veteran with more than 40 film credits, Lynch was seen in theaters last spring in Martin Scorsese’s thriller Shutter Island, which grossed more than $100 million.  He was also recently seen in Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino, David Fincher’s Zodiac and the character drama Things We Lost in the Fire, with Benicio Del Toro.  Lynch has worked with directors Miguel Arteta, Mick Jackson and Albert Brooks, among others.  Lynch will be seen in the upcoming release of Crazy, Stupid, Love., a comedy starring Steve Carell, Julianne Moore and Ryan Gosling.

On the small screen, Lynch has appeared in regular and recurring roles in many series and miniseries including Carnivàle, K-Ville, Big Love, How to Make It in America, From the Earth to the Moon and David E. Kelley’s The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire.  For six seasons, Lynch played Drew’s cross-dressing brother on The Drew Carey Show.  This year, Lynch will be seen, opposite Dana Delany, in ABC’s Body of Proof.

Lynch relishes every opportunity to perform on stage.  He recently returned to the Guthrie Theater to play the lead role of Eddie Carbone in Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge.  His other stage appearances include the original production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Dinner With Friends at South Coast Repertory, Under the Blue Sky at the Geffen Playhouse and Beth Henley’s world premiere of Ridiculous Fraud, at New Jersey’s McCarter Theatre.

Lynch lives in New York and Los Angeles with his wife, actress Brenda Wehle.

Joe Lo Truglio (O’Reilly) is an actor, producer and sketch performer who has bowled over audiences with a number of standout roles in a string of landmark comedies including Wet Hot American Summer, The Ten, Superbad, Pineapple Express, Role Models and I Love You, Man.  His comedies have achieved major box-office success, with Role Models grossing nearly $68 million and I Love You, Man grossing $71 million at the U.S. box office.  In addition to these films, Lo Truglio co-created and starred in two hit web series with Late Night With Jimmy Fallon head writer A.D. Miles—Horrible People and Hot Sluts—and has lent his voice to many national commercial campaigns.

Lo Truglio is a founding member of legendary sketch-comedy troupe The State, with which he continues to appear regularly.  In addition, he is a regular performer with cult comedy group Stella, with Michael Ian Black, David Wain and Michael Showalter.

In 2009, Lo Truglio achieved the summit of police comedy, joining the ensemble cast of long-running hit Comedy Central series Reno 911! The show wrapped after its sixth season and continues to be syndicated around the world.

Most recently, Lo Truglio was cast in the Judd Apatow-produced comedy Wanderlust, opposite Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux.  David Wain is directing the film from the script he wrote with Ken Marino, and it is set for release in October 2011.  His upcoming projects also include playing a drag queen in Queens of Country, opposite Lizzy Caplan and Ron Livingston, and a role in the Matt Walsh-directed comedy High Road.

Lo Truglio currently resides in Los Angeles.

Academy Award®-nominated actress SIGOURNEY WEAVER (The Big Guy) has created a host of memorable characters, both dramatic and comic, in films ranging from Ripley in Alien to Dian Fossey in Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey.  Over the years, she has captivated audiences and won acclaim as one of the most esteemed actresses on both stage and screen.

Born and educated in New York City, Weaver graduated from Stanford University and went on to receive a master’s degree from the Yale School of Drama.  Her first professional job was as an understudy in Sir John Gielgud’s production of The Constant Wife, starring Ingrid Bergman.

Weaver made her motion picture debut in Ridley Scott’s blockbuster Alien.  She later reprised the role of warrant officer Ripley in James Cameron’s Aliens, which earned her Academy Award® and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress.  She again brought Ripley back to life in David Fincher’s Alien3, which she also co-produced, and Alien: Resurrection, for director Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

Following Alien, Weaver had starring roles in three back-to-back hit movies: Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey, in which she portrayed primatologist Dian Fossey; the Mike Nichols comedy Working Girl; and Ghostbusters II.  Weaver received her second and third Academy Award® nominations and was awarded Golden Globe Awards for her performances in Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey and Working Girl. Her other films include the thriller Copycat; Paul Rudnick’s comedy Jeffrey; Roman Polanski’s gripping film adaptation of Death and the Maiden; Half Moon Street, with Michael Caine; Ridley Scott’s 1492: Conquest of Paradise; One Woman or Two, with Gérard Depardieu; Eyewitness, with William Hurt; and Showtime’s live-action film Snow White: A Tale of Terror, based on the original Grimm fairy tale, which earned her an Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.

In 1997, Weaver joined the ensemble of Ang Lee’s critically acclaimed film The Ice Storm, playing alongside Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Elijah Wood and Christina Ricci.  Her performance garnered her a BAFTA, a Golden Globe Award nomination and a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.  She later gave a galvanizing performance in A Map of the World, Scott Elliott’s powerful drama based on the novel by Jane Hamilton, which earned her universal critical praise and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture—Drama.  She delighted audiences with her flair for comedy, along with crewmates Tim Allen and Alan Rickman, in the science-fiction comedy Galaxy Quest, directed by Dean Parisot, which proved to be a hit of the 1999 holiday season.  She followed this with the popular comedy Heartbreakers, playing opposite Gene Hackman and Jennifer Love Hewitt.

In 2003, Weaver played the cold-blooded, redheaded warden in the hit comedy Holes, directed by Andrew Davis, and starred in the film version of The Guys, with Anthony LaPaglia and directed by Jim Simpson.  Following this, Weaver appeared in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village and received rave reviews for her performance in Imaginary Heroes, written and directed by Dan Harris.

In addition to her film credits, Weaver has also taken time to shine on the stage.  She started out on off-off-Broadway in Christopher Durang’s The Nature and Purpose of the Universe, Titanic and Das Lusitania Songspiel.  She and Durang co-wrote Das Lusitania, which earned them both Drama Desk nominations.  She has appeared in numerous off-Broadway productions in New York, working with such writers as John Guare, Albert Innaurato, Richard Nelson and Len Jenkin.  In regional repertory, she has performed works by Harold Pinter, Tennessee Williams, Georges Feydeau and William Shakespeare.  She also appeared in the PBS miniseries The Best of Families.

Weaver received a Tony Award nomination for her starring role in Hurlyburly on Broadway, directed by Mike Nichols.  She played Portia in the Classic Stage Company of New York’s production of The Merchant of Venice.  In 1996, Weaver returned to Broadway in the Lincoln Center production of Sex and Longing, written by Christopher Durang.

Weaver originated roles in two A.R. Gurney world premieres: Crazy Mary, at Playwrights Horizons, and Mrs. Farnsworth, at the Flea Theater.  She also starred in Neil LaBute’s play The Mercy Seat, opposite Liev Schreiber.  John Lahr of The New Yorker described the play as offering “performances of a depth and concentration that haven’t been seen in New York for many seasons.”  Weaver also originated the female lead in Anne Nelson’s The Guys at The Flea, where it was commissioned and directed by Jim Simpson.  The Guys tells the story of a fire captain dealing with the aftermath of 9/11.

Her other film credits include Infamous, with Toby Jones and Sandra Bullock; Jake Kasdan’s The TV Set; Snow Cake, opposite Alan Rickman; Tim Allen’s Crazy on the Outside; The Girl in the Park, opposite Kate Bosworth; Vantage Point, with Dennis Quaid and Forest Whitaker; the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler comedy Baby Mama; and Andy Fickman’s comedy You Again, alongside Jamie Lee Curtis, Kristen Bell and Betty White.

In 2008, Weaver lent her voice to Pixar’s box-office smash Wall-E, as well as The Tale of Despereaux, with Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Watson. In December 2009, Weaver starred in James Cameron’s groundbreaking film Avatar, which went on to be the highest-grossing film of all time.  The film won a Golden Globe for Best Picture and also received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Picture.

Her upcoming films include Cedar Rapids, starring John C. Reilly, Anne Heche and Ed Helms.  She recently completed filming Amy Heckerling’s Vamps, with Alicia Silverstone; Abduction, with Taylor Lautner; and Mabrouk El Mechri’s The Cold Light of Day, with Bruce Willis.  She will next begin production on Rampart, with Steve Buscemi and Robin Wright, and Red Lights, with Robert De Niro.

For her television work, Weaver received Emmy, Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actress for her role as Mary Griffith in Lifetime’s Prayers for Bobby, which was also Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated for Outstanding Made for Television Movie.

SETH ROGEN (Paul) was recently seen in Judd Apatow’s Funny People, starring opposite Adam Sandler.  He also starred in the dark comedy Observe and Report, opposite Anna Faris, taking on the role of the mall security guard Ronnie.  The film was directed by Jody Hill.  Up next for Rogen was the 3D animation phenomenon Monsters vs Aliens.  Rogen voiced B.O.B. and was joined by Paul Rudd, Reese Witherspoon and Rainn Wilson.  The film was released by DreamWorks Animation and grossed nearly $370 million at the worldwide box office.

Rogen has emerged leading a new generation of comedic actors, writers and producers.  Nominated for an Emmy Award in 2005 for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy for Da Ali G Show, Rogen began his career doing stand-up comedy in Vancouver, Canada, at 13 years of age.  After moving to Los Angeles, Rogen landed supporting roles in two of Judd Apatow’s critically acclaimed network television comedies, Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, the latter of which Rogen was also hired on as a staff writer at the age of 18.  Shortly after, Apatow guided Rogen toward a film career.

In 2005, Apatow cast Rogen in the hit feature comedy The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which opened No. 1 at the box office, where it remained at the top perch for two weekends in a row.  The film went on to gross more than $175 million worldwide and helped put Rogen on the map as a future film star.  The film was named one of the 10 Most Outstanding Motion Pictures of the Year by AFI and took home Best Comedy Movie at the 11th annual Critics’ Choice Awards.  Rogen was a co-producer on the film as well.

In 2007, Rogen headlined the summer comedy Knocked Up, with co-stars Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann; the film grossed more than $140 million domestically.  Once again paired with Apatow, Rogen was also an executive producer on the project distributed by Universal Pictures.

Later that year Rogen was seen in another summer blockbuster, Superbad (a semi-autobiographical comedy), that he co-wrote and executive produced with writing partner Evan Goldberg.  The film grossed more than $120 million domestically for Sony Pictures.

The year 2008 was another busy one for Rogen.  He started by lending his voice as Mantis alongside Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman and Angelina Jolie in the Academy Award®-nominated Kung Fu Panda, which has earned more than $626 million worldwide.  Rogen immediately followed Kung Fu Panda with another No.1 box-office hit, the action-comedy Pineapple Express, a film he co-wrote with Evan Goldberg and starred in, opposite James Franco and Danny McBride.  Sony Pictures released the film in August and it went on to earn more than $100 million worldwide.  Rogen was next seen in Kevin Smith’s Zack and Miri Make a Porno, released by The Weinstein Company in October, starring opposite Elizabeth Banks.

His other film credits include Horton Hears a Who! and Drillbit Taylor.  He can currently be seen in the action film The Green Hornet (Sony Pictures), directed by Michel Gondry, in which Rogen again teams up with co-writing partner Evan Goldberg.  He also recently completed work on Live With It, Take This Waltz and Kung Fu Panda 2.

Rogen currently resides in Los Angeles.

ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS

GREG MOTTOLA (Directed by) most recently wrote and directed the coming-of-age comedy/drama Adventureland (2009), starring Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Martin Starr and Ryan Reynolds.  Before that, he directed the comedy Superbad, produced by Judd Apatow and starring Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Seth Rogen and Bill Hader.  He was also the writer and director of the independent movie The Daytrippers (1997), starring Hope Davis, Parker Posey, Liev Schreiber, Anne Meara, Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci.  The Daytrippers was chosen for the Cannes Film Festival and was awarded the audience and jury prizes at the Deauville American Films Festival.

Mottola also directed several episodes of the Judd Apatow television series Undeclared and episodes of Arrested Development and HBO’s The Comeback.  His next project is to adapt Leanne Shapton’s book “Important Artifacts and Personal Property From the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry,” for Plan B Productions and Paramount Pictures, to star Natalie Portman.

Mottola attended graduate film school at Columbia University, where he studied with Sidney Lumet, David Mamet and George Roy Hill.  He has also acted in the Woody Allen movies Celebrity and Hollywood Ending.

In 1995, NIRA PARK (Produced by) founded Big Talk Productions, through which she produced both series of Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes’ award-winning comedy series Spaced, directed by Edgar Wright; all three series of the double BAFTA-winning sitcom Black Books; and the Rose d’Or-nominated dramedy series Free Agents, all for Channel 4.

Following the success of Spaced, Park went on to develop and produce the hit movie Shaun of the Dead, for which she received a nomination for the Carl Foreman Award for the Most Promising Newcomer in British Film at the 2005 BAFTAs.  Park was also selected as one of Variety’s “10 Producers to Watch.”

In 2006, she produced Ringan Ledwidge’s debut feature, Gone, for Working Title Films/Universal Pictures, and she collaborated again with Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright on their follow-up movie, Hot Fuzz.

In 2007, Park expanded Big Talk Productions and created Big Talk Pictures, and she is now CEO of both companies.

Most recently, Park produced Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, starring Michael Cera, which was released internationally in August of 2010 to outstanding critical acclaim.  Park is currently in postproduction on Attack the Block, Joe Cornish’s debut feature for Optimum Releasing/Studio Canal, Film4 and the U.K. Film Council.  It is due to be released in spring 2011.

In December 2010, she was the recipient of the Producer of the Year Award at the U.K. Women in Film and Television Awards.

Park continues to produce and develop across a diverse range of film and television projects for Big Talk Productions and Pictures.

Working Title Films, co-chaired by TIM BEVAN and ERIC FELLNER (Produced by) since 1992, is one of the world’s leading film production companies. DEBRA HAYWARD (Executive Producer) serves as head of film and is creatively responsible for the company’s slate of motion pictures, in conjunction with her U.S. counterpart, LIZA CHASIN (Executive Producer).

Founded in 1983, Working Title has made more than 90 films that have grossed more than $4.5 billion worldwide.  Its films have won six Academy Awards® and 26 BAFTAs.  Bevan and Fellner have received the Michael Balcon Award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema at the Orange British Academy Film Awards, and both have been honored with the title of commander of the Order of the British Empire.  Last year, they received a career tribute award at the Gotham Independent Film Awards.

Working Title’s extensive and diverse list of credits include:

  • Seven films with Joel and Ethan Coen: Burn After Reading, Fargo, The Hudsucker Proxy, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Man Who Wasn’t There and A Serious Man
  • Six collaborations with writer Richard Curtis: Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and Notting Hill, as well as Love Actually and The Boat That Rocked, both of which Curtis also directed
  • Bean, directed by Mel Smith; Mr. Bean’s Holiday, directed by Steve Bendelack; and Johnny English, directed by Peter Howitt, all starring Rowan Atkinson
  • Pride & Prejudice and Atonement, directed by Joe Wright
  • United 93 and Green Zone, directed by Paul Greengrass
  • Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, directed by Edgar Wright
  • About a Boy, directed by Paul Weitz and Chris Weitz
  • Definitely, Maybe, directed by Adam Brooks
  • The Interpreter, directed by Sydney Pollack
  • Dead Man Walking, directed by Tim Robbins
  • Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, directed by Shekhar Kapur
  • Frost/Nixon, directed by Ron Howard
  • · Nanny McPhee, directed by Kirk Jones, and Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, directed by Susanna White
  • Senna, Working Title’s first documentary feature about the legendary racing driver Ayrton Senna, directed by Asif Kapadia
  • · Billy Elliot, directed by Stephen Daldry.  The success of the film has continued on stage with Billy Elliot The Musical, directed by Stephen Daldry with book and lyrics by Lee Hall and music by Elton John. The production is currently enjoying highly successful runs in London, Chicago and on Broadway where it won 10 Tony Awards in 2009, including Best Musical and Best Director.  The show previously played in Sydney and Melbourne and recently opened in Seoul, South Korea.
  • · In postproduction are Johnny English Reborn, directed by Oliver Parker and starring Rowan Atkinson, Gillian Anderson and Rosamund Pike; Everybody Loves Whales, directed by Ken Kwapis and starring Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski; and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, directed by Tomas Alfredson and starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy.
  • Shooting is currently underway on Contraband, a thriller directed by Baltasar Kormákur and starring Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale.

After attending the Central School of Speech and Drama, NATASCHA WHARTON (Executive Producer) joined Eric Fellner’s Initial Films, working with both Fellner and the head of development.  She later moved with Fellner to Working Title Films, Europe’s leading production company.
In 1994, Wharton started working in the development department at Working Title as a development executive across all film projects including Elizabeth, directed by Shekhar Kapur; Notting Hill, directed by Roger Michell; The Borrowers, directed by Peter Hewitt; and Bridget Jones’s Diary, directed by Sharon Maguire.  During this time, she also set up Working Title’s New Writers Scheme to nurture new writing talent.  In 1998, she co-produced Jake Scott’s 18th-century highwayman movie, Plunkett & Macleane.
In 1999, Wharton, together with Jon Finn, set up WT², Working Title’s low-budget film division aimed specifically at establishing a home for emerging writers, directors and producers in the U.K.  She was an executive producer of Billy Elliot, WT²’s first film, directed by Stephen Daldry, which was nominated for 10 BAFTAs, three Academy Awards® and five Golden Globes.  Wharton continued to run the division until 2006 and oversaw the development, production and postproduction of numerous films including Sacha Baron Cohen’s film debut, Ali G Indahouse, directed by Mark Mylod; My Little Eye, directed by Marc Evans; the cult hit Shaun of the Dead, directed by Edgar Wright; Inside I’m Dancing, directed by Damian O’Donnell; Gone, directed by Ringan Ledwidge; and Sixty Six, directed by Paul Weiland.
In 2006, Wharton was appointed the head of development at Working Title Films.   In 2007, she was executive producer on Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz and continued to work on a wide range of projects.
In May 2010, Wharton joined the U.K. Film Council as a senior production and development executive.  She is currently working across a slate of developments and overseeing several films in production including Nigel Cole’s Rafta, Rafta, James Watkins’ The Woman in Black and Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady.

ROBERT GRAF (Executive Producer) was executive producer on Joel and Ethan Coen’s True Grit, A Serious Man, Burn After Reading and No Country for Old Men.

He has enjoyed a long association with the Coen brothers and with Working Title Films, serving as location manager on Fargo and The Big Lebowski before becoming associate producer on O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers.

Graf also executive produced Joe Carnahan’s Smokin’ Aces and co-produced Peter Berg’s Friday Night Lights.

Teaneck, New Jersey, native and Wesleyan University graduate LAWRENCE SHER (Director of Photography) has been a director of photography for more than 15 years.  After learning his craft as a camera assistant in Los Angeles, Sher broke out as a cinematographer with the successful indie Kissing Jessica Stein and the Independent Spirit Award-winning Garden State.

He has shot such films as Dan in Real Life, starring Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche; I Love You, Man, with Paul Rudd; Trucker, starring Michelle Monaghan; and the Golden Globe-winning surprise hit The Hangover.  He most recently shot Due Date, starring Robert Downey, Jr., and The Big Year, starring Jack Black and Owen Wilson.  He just began work on The Hangover Part II.

Sher lives in Venice, California, with wife Jessica, son Max and dog Stampy.

JEFFERSON SAGE (Production Designer) most recently designed Paul Feig’s upcoming film Bridesmaids, starring Kristen Wiig.  In 2010, Sage designed Jake Kasdan’s upcoming Bad Teacher, his third collaboration with Kasdan after previously teaming up on Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and The TV Set.  Sage’s previous credits include Judd Apatow’s Funny People and hit comedy Knocked Up.  In addition, Sage designed Year One, directed by Harold Ramis.

For television, Sage’s work as production designer includes Apatow’s critically acclaimed series Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared.  Sage also designed The Bernie Mac Show.

As art director, Sage’s credits include Harold Ramis’ Analyze This, Donnie Brasco, Mississippi Masala, Blink, One True Thing and Roommates.

Sage has a degree in theater arts from the College of William & Mary and continued his studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, earning an MFA degree in set and lighting design for the stage.  Sage started his career as a designer and assistant designer in stage, opera, ballet, commercials and industrials, before moving into television and feature film work.

He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter.

CHRIS DICKENS, ACE (Editor) won the Oscar® for Best Film Editing for Danny Boyle’s award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire. For his work on the film, Dickens also won the American Cinema Editors (ACE) Eddie Award and the BAFTA for Best Editing.

His other feature film editing credits include the upcoming Submarine, with Richard Ayoade; the acclaimed Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, directed by Edgar Wright and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost; A Complete History of My Sexual Failures, directed by and starring Chris Waitt; Ringan Ledwidge’s Gone; Danny Cannon’s Goal! The Dream Begins; and Seed of Chucky.

Dickens previously edited Wright and Pegg’s much loved television series Spaced, as well as cult comedy series Look Around You.  He also edited the telefilms Lucky Jim and Cruise of the Gods, starring Steve Coogan, David Walliams and James Corden.

Dickens, who is based in London, has also edited a variety of full-length television dramas.


NANCY STEINER (Costume Designer) has worked extensively in film, commercials, music videos, television and print.

Her film credits include The Lovely Bones, Youth in Revolt, Funny People, Little Miss Sunshine, The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, Elizabethtown, Shopgirl, The Good Girl, Year of the Dog, Human Nature, The Million Dollar Hotel, Safe and The Winner.  Most recently, Steiner worked on director Mike White’s new series for HBO, Enlightened.  In 2005, Premiere magazine honored Steiner for her illustrious film career, and she was also nominated for the Excellence in Contemporary Film award by the Costume Designers Guild Awards in both 2005 and 2006.

Steiner began her styling career in the world of music videos.  Over the years, she has worked closely with many of the industry’s top artists including Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, No Doubt, David Bowie, Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Rolling Stones, Sheryl Crow, R.E.M., Björk, Air, Fatboy Slim and Foo Fighters.

In 2004, Steiner garnered the award for Excellence in Commercial Costume Design at the Costume Designers Guild Awards for her work on the “Bacardi & Cola” campaign.  Her work in commercial advertising includes Levi Strauss & Co., Gap, Nike, Volkswagen, HSBC, T-Mobile, MasterCard, Sprint, Intel, EarthLink, Dell, Volvo, Bacardi, Puma, Lincoln, Pepsi and MillerCoors, to name just a few.

Steiner’s work has also been featured in such notable magazines as Vanity Fair, Marie Claire, Interview, Allure, Us Weekly, The Face and Rolling Stone.  She has collaborated with celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz, Milla Jovovich, Sheryl Crow, Sandra Bullock, Sade, Tom Hanks, R.E.M. and No Doubt.

One of the most popular and successful of young British composers, DAVID ARNOLD (Music by) was born in Luton, England, and now lives and works in London.  He recently composed the score to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Made in Dagenham and Morning Glory.

With much of his youth spent playing clarinet, guitar and keyboards in school bands, orchestras, nightclubs, pubs and concert halls, Arnold’s interests began to move away from writing and performing, to writing, arranging and producing.  While growing up in Luton, an industrial town about 30 miles north of London, he met fellow film enthusiast Danny Cannon, and together they decided to make films.

In a few years, they made numerous short films and Cannon proceeded to attend England’s prestigious National Film and Television School, where Arnold continued to score the student films that Cannon made.  Their graduation film, Strangers, attracted much interest from the professional film community.  Arnold had written, orchestrated and conducted the score the same way he had done for 23 other short films, finding his way through the process by doing, rather than by being taught.

It was the interest in Strangers that enabled Cannon to land his first professional directing job, The Young Americans, starring Harvey Keitel and Viggo Mortensen.  Cannon convinced the producers to let Arnold score the movie, and with a small budget and one day of recording time, the score to The Young Americans was created.

For the end credits of the movie, Arnold enlisted Icelandic singer Björk to co-write and sing “Play Dead.”  Hailed by NME and Melody Maker as their “single of the week,” “Play Dead” garnered sales and critical appreciation in equal measure.  Time Out’s review of Arnold’s score for The Young Americans included the comment “At last! This is what music soundtracks should sound like.”

It was soon after that Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, who were writing and producing the sci-fi epic Stargate, heard some music from The Young Americans and offered Arnold the chance to score their movie.  The success of the film and music announced Arnold on the world stage as a contemporary film composer with style, wit, versatility and an unabashed love of the lush, romantic, ridiculous, energetic and thrilling.

Since then, David Arnold has become one of the British film industry’s most talented and respected players, switching seamlessly from the orchestral grandeur of movies such as Stargate (1994) and Independence Day (1996)—for which he received a Grammy Award—to more scaled down, urban grooves and beats on films such as Shaft (2000), Enough (2002), Changing Lanes (2002) and 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003).

Also, and perhaps more significantly, Arnold is the man who has successfully taken over John Barry as the composer of the world famous James Bond movies, having written music for Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999) and Die Another Day (2002).

Away from the film world, Arnold maintains a career as a successful record producer and songwriter, having worked with a wide range of contemporary artists including k.d. lang, Pulp, Chrissie Hynde, Iggy Pop, Garbage, David McAlmont, Martina Topley-Bird, Natasha Bedingfield, Aimee Mann, George Michael and Damien Rice.

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