"Jimmy Hollywood" stars Joe Pesci, Christian Slater and Victoria Abril in a film written and directed by Barry Levinson. The Baltimore Pictures Production was produced by Mark Johnson and Barry Levinson. Peter Giuliano is the executive producer of the presentation of the Motion Picture Group of Paramount Pictures, part of the entertainment operations of Paramount Communications Inc., which is a majority owned subsidiary of Viacom Inc. Original music by Robbie Robertson.
Joe Pesci stars as Jimmy Alto, the guy who was known back in Jersey as Jimmy Hollywood because everyone knew he'd end up a star. But now he waits by the murky pool for his phone to ring; carries around images of how it was supposed to be on his Sony Watchman (via the classic documentary "Hollywood and the Stars"); and hopes that the right luxury car will drive by his bus bench and change his life in a wondrous instant.
Jimmy's buddy William, portrayed by Christian Slater, is just another lost soul from the boulevard. He can run a camcorder, a digital labeling machine, just about anything electronic. But his own mechanics are on the fritz. He wanders around Hollywood in a fog, awaiting his own big picture: the one they're going to develop from his MRI scan.
Jimmy's girlfriend Lorraine De La Pena, played by Victoria Abril, didn't come all the way from Spain to get held up at a Hollywood Ready Teller. She came for the promise of being able to become anything, even the first great female hairdresser to the Hollywood stars, a goal she plans to come closer to on the cusp of Jimmy's hopefully imminent fame.
Living in the Studio House apartments, Jimmy, William and Lorraine are just waiting to get lucky. Instead, they just get robbed.
But that doesn't stop Jimmy from seizing the moment... and finding fame beyond his wildest dreams in an act of media infamy.
BARRY LEVINSON's films as a director include "Rain Man," for which he won the Academy Award for Best Director, "Bugsy" and "Good Morning, Vietnam," and he has written and directed the acclaimed films "Diner," "Tin Men" and "Avalon."
"Jimmy Hollywood" is a departure, in setting, style and budget.
"I think this is a very personal movie for Barry," said MARK JOHNSON, who also produced the Oscar-winning "Rain Man." "Hollywood has very strong emotional ties for him, and this one really got us back to the source, to what is really most fun about making movies. There's something about lower-budget films that is so satisfying. It's just as imaginative, but you have to be even more resourceful."
Even the inspiration for the protagonist took Levinson back to his days as a young hopeful. In 1970, Levinson came to Hollywood. He attended acting school, shared an $80/month studio apartment off Hollywood Boulevard with two friends and worked in a deli. In fact, Jimmy Alto's absurd tribulations as a deli waiter are directly taken from Levinson's personal experience, as is the fascination with Hollywood as it was.
Hollywood as it is -- frenetic, graffitied, on-the-edge -- figures prominently in Barry Levinson's rough-hewn perspective on the state of contemporary urban hope. In "Jimmy Hollywood," his Hollywood is a place where everything has deteriorated, except the aspirations that made it in the first place.
"Hollywood is more dangerous and volatile than it was before, with an on-the-surface explosive anger," said Levinson. "Jimmy represents those who are frustrated and on the edge, yet in a comedic sensibility. Ultimately, the mythology of Hollywood also pertains to our country, to every troubled city where many dreams have died and are dying. And yet that belief still exists in people, that they can accomplish and ultimately succeed. It's a fascinating contradiction."
Central to "Jimmy Hollywood" is the performance of JOE PESCI as the would-be actor who literally can't even get arrested in Hollywood. Pesci won an Academy Award for his role in "GoodFellas"and has appeared in such hit films as "My Cousin Vinny," the two "Home Alone" movies, the second and third films in the "Lethal Weapon" series and "Raging Bull," which brought him his first Oscar nomination.
"I love the character," Pesci said of the role. "Jimmy is from back East and comes from the street. He has tremendous faith in himself and his talent. I can relate to the character. Trying to get ahead is just impossible. I've been acting since I was five, but coming to Hollywood there are all the frustrations trying to get in. You just have to be lucky."
"Joe has an extraordinary ability to be both dramatic and comedic," said Levinson. "In a heartbeat. things can shift. There's an unpredictable nature to him that serves the character because Jimmy is very impulsive and has enormous confidence that he'll succeed. A cockiness or ego drives him that somehow is impenetrable. He seems unstoppable, destined ultimately for some kind of notoriety."
Co-starring with Pesci as William, one of a thousand weirded-out refugees from troubled homes and lives that ultimately end up on Hollywood streets, is CHRISTIAN SLATER, star of such films as "True Romance," "Untamed Heart," "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," "Pump Up the Volume" and "Heathers."
"William is a little vague and may be extremely slow," noted Slater, "but there are definitely thoughts going on in his head. William's not a judgmental person. He's just a very simple guy who follows Jimmy around and listens to all the crazy stories he tells him ... and he spends a lot of time in his own little world."
Joe Pesci explained the unusual bond of this friendship: "Jimmy likes the way William is and William likes the way Jimmy is. Jimmy can talk to William, bounce ideas off him. In turn, Jimmy tries to help him in certain ways and teach him things."
VICTORIA ABRIL makes her American motion picture debut in "Jimmy Hollywood" starring as Jimmy's girlfriend Lorraine. The award-winning Spanish star is best known to American audiences for her roles in the Pedro Almodovar films "High Heels" and "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!"
"Lorraine is 90 percent dreams, but she's also positive and reasonable," said Abril. "While waiting for her big break to be a hairdresser to the stars, she washes hair while Jimmy's dreams occupy his head and halt his capacity to be reasonable."
"Jimmy loves Lorraine in his own way," said Pesci. "Jimmy, William and Lorraine are normal people. They're just productions of their environment."
"Jimmy Hollywood" began principal photography on August 4. 1993. Like a tour of Hollywood mythology, the production made stops at the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Bowl, the El Capitan and Egyptian Theaters, as well as the places the tour buses do not go, especially after dark.
Production designer LINDA DE SCENNA, a five-time Oscar nominee for her work as a set decorator on such films as "Toys" and "Rain Man," and locations manager Antoinette Levine worked with Barry Levinson to investigate the condition of buildings and landmarks made famous in earlier eras, along with sites that would manifest how Hollywood has evolved.
Working for the fourth time with director of photography PETER SOVA (following "Diner," "Tin Men" and "Good Morning, Vietnam"), Levinson filmed in Hollywood and the vicinity, often utilizing steadicams and multi-camera set ups -- some on cranes, some on dolly track, others pulled manually to follow Pesci and Slater traversing such streets as Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue.
"We remained as inconspicuous as possible to let the characters blend in," recalls Levinson, who achieved a backdrop for his chatacters that at times included authentic local residents, street people and tourists.
Concurrently with the daily shooting schedule, Levinson worked with editor JAY RABINOWITZ ("Night on Earth") as editing was done utilizing Lightworks, a digital non-linear editing system installed in a bus that accompanied the production unit. During breaks in shooting, Levinson edited and evaluated the work in progress.
"This new system allows easier access and greater flexibility with the filmed material," says Rabinowitz. "The translation time from an idea to an action is sharply reduced, making the editing process less mechanical. You can incorporate music, sound effects and optical effects at the touch of a button. These things, that can take days or weeks in the editing room, are ready for viewing and adjusting within a few minutes."
"Jimmy Hollywood" features the original music of Robbie Robertson. Robertson wrote and recorded especially for the film an original song, "Bad Intentions," as well as a cover of "Let the Good Times Roll," performed with singer Cassandra Wilson. The film also features such Robertson favorites as "Soap Box Preacher," "Slo Burn," and performing with Ryuichi Sakamoto, "The Far, Lonely Cry of Trains." The soundtrack of "Jimmy Hollywood" includes an eclectic mix of contemporary and world music's leading talents, including "Fortune Teller" by The Iguanas, "Mexican Moon" by Concrete Blonde, "Le Bien, Le Mal" by Guru featuring MC Solaar, "Lost at Birth" by Public Enemy, "After the Gold Rush" by Prelude and "Santa Maria" by The Sand Rubies.