Warner Bros. Presents A Mark Johnson/Baltimore Pictures/Kasdan Pictures Production: Drew Barrymore in "Home Fries," starring Catherine O'Hara, Luke Wilson, Jake Busey and Shelley Duvall. The music is by Rachel Portman and the film is edited by Nicholas C. Smith, A.C.E. The production designer is Barry Robison and the director of photography is Jerzy Zielinski. The executive producer is Romi Lassally. "Home Fries" is written by Vince Gilligan; produced by Mark Johnson, Barry Levinson, Lawrence Kasdan and Charles Newirth; and directed by Dean Parisot. It is distributed by Warner Bros., A Time Warner Entertainment Company.
DEAN PARISOT directs "Home Fries," an off-center romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore, Catherine O'Hara, Luke Wilson, Jake Busey and SHELLEY DUVALL. MARK JOHNSON, BARRY LEVINSON, LAWRENCE KASDAN and CHARLES NEWIRTH produce the film, which is executive produced by ROMI LASSALLY and written by VINCE GILLIGAN.
Behind-the-camera talent includes director of photography JERZY ZIELINSKI ("Washington Square"), production designer BARRY ROBISON ("My Family / Mi Familia"), editor NICHOLAS C. SMITH, A.C.E. ("Bram Stoker's Dracula") and composer RACHEL PORTMAN (Academy Award-winner for "Emma").
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
Back in 1988, producer Mark Johnson was in the process of judging a screenwriting contest sponsored by the Governor of Virginia when he came across a script by Vince Gilligan. It was entitled "Home Fries" and, just like the self-described food in the title, it stuck with Johnson.
The producer remembers, "'Home Fries' left such an everlasting impression. The characters that Gilligan had created on the page came to life for me. Here was this off-beat comedy that was really original -- it was darkly funny and touching at the same time. In the years that followed, I always kept the script in the back of my mind as a project I wanted to produce."
Flash forward, eight years. Writer Vince Gilligan had gone on to become supervising producer and creative consultant on the hit series "The X-Files." Producer Johnson had never lost interest in the project.
Johnson says, "All I can say is that there is something really unusual about this story that sneaks up on you. You never quite have your footing, so to speak."
Johnson's enthusiasm was soon joined by filmmaker (and Johnson's partner at Baltimore Pictures) Barry Levinson's, filmmaker Lawrence Kasdan's and producer Charles Newirth's (who worked with Johnson on three previous films). Johnson had kept a short list of up-and-coming directors and one on the list, Dean Parisot, he felt would respond to the edgy script. (Parisot had won an Oscar for the short film "The Appointments of Dennis Jennings" and had directed various television properties.)
Kasdan remembers, "Dean's instincts were exactly in the right place. His ideas about the script were in sync with ours, but he also took parts of the story in new directions."
Dorian: You a big country music fan?
Sally: Yes. I dream of being a big hit singer someday.
Dorian: You sing?
Dorian: But you want to be a singer?
Sally: Well, I dream of being a singer. I think that's why it's called a dream.
With Parisot as director, the filmmakers began the search for the ensemble of offbeat characters in Gilligan's fictitious town. Charles Newirth remembers, "Dean took his time casting the film. His smart choices helped mesh the quirky material into a real and cohesive world."
Johnson says, "It is very seldom in this business that you get your first choice for a particular role. I know it sounds clichéd, but Drew Barrymore was the actress all of us had tagged as Sally. So when we heard that she liked the script and was really interested in the part, it was exactly what we had hoped for."
The filmmakers felt that Drew's natural ebullience and caring nature would suit Sally Jackson. Barrymore says, "Sally is an extraordinary young woman. She has the optimism of a genius. There is something about her that's like a prodigy, someone with really high intelligence -- and I don't mean intelligence from education. I mean intelligence from the heart."
Kasdan was familiar with the comedic and acting talents of Catherine O'Hara, who had actually read the script a couple of years earlier. As it lay on the page, the character of Mrs. Lever could have been interpreted as another woman angry and bitter because of her philandering husband. But filmmakers were impressed by the different shadings O'Hara gave the manipulative widow and mother of Dorian and Angus.
O'Hara notes, "I think Mrs. Lever is an incredibly frightening mother, and not just in the obvious, Ma Barker-kind of way. She is far more subtle in the manipulation of her sons. She's so sadly selfish and completely self-absorbed, which makes for the most dangerous kind of parent. She doesn't look beyond herself to see what kind of damage she is inflicting on those around her. I know it doesn't sound like it, but she's pretty funny, too. But let's face it -- she's a nasty lady." The filmmakers had seen Luke Wilson in "Bottle Rocket," a film about three small town friends attempting to rob a local business; the feature had garnered good notices for its script and the performances. Wilson's brand of no-nonsense acting suited the role of the younger brother and Sally's new love interest, Dorian.
Johnson says, "What Luke does is one of the most difficult things for an actor to do, which is to portray an 'ordinary' character who, at the same time, has to be engaging. Dorian is a little befuddled by things -- he's certainly not dumb, but the events of the world and the people in it don't make sense to him. He has to be kind of a cross between Dustin Hoffman in 'The Graduate' and Peter Sellers in 'Being There.'"
For the borderline psychotic brother, Angus, filmmakers called in Jake Busey, whose picture Drew Barrymore had spotted in a magazine and who, as coincidence would have it, was actually shooting on location in Texas (where "Home Fries" was also to shoot). He was called in to read for the part.
On Busey's audition, Parisot notes, "Jake stretched the character of Angus into some deeply disturbing places. That is just what we were aiming for."
Texas-native Shelley Duvall was cast as Sally's mother, Ms. Jackson. Her trademark soft-spoken voice and doleful eyes were a good match for a woman whose main purpose in life is to love and support her children through even the darkest (and strangest) of times.
Red: You wily bastard, you!
Ms. Jackson: I bailed him out yesterday. If he jumps his bond this time, you got my permission to kill him.
Parisot's goal was to create a small town that was not particular to any specific area of the United States (although the original script took place in Virginia). What he found was the Texas town of Bastrop, which boasted a population of 4,800 and a location 30 miles southeast of the capital city of Austin (where Johnson had earlier produced "A Perfect World").
"The journey that takes place in 'Home Fries' doesn't happen in Southern California or on the prairies of the Midwest. It is Anywhere, U.S.A. That's something we could accomplish in the region around Austin," says Newirth. That 'Anywhere, U.S.A.' concept was executed by the art department down to the smallest detail -- they even created generic license plates for all of the vehicles in the film.
For the main set of Sally's (and later, Dorian's) workplace, the Burger-Matic, production designer Barry Robison was instructed by Parisot to create a building that "looked like a spaceship that had landed in the middle of the country." Robison and his designing team built the fast-food restaurant, replete with a drive-through window, off a main highway.
The resulting orange and turquoise structure with its slanted roof and glass walls was, according to Robison, "a corporate idea of 'cool.' We must have done a convincing job, because a few of the locals stopped in for a burger. They were really disappointed when they found out it was a movie set."
The Mayor of Bastrop, David Lock, extended his brand of southern hospitality to Parisot and the production, aiding them with usage of a home in the historic district of town that would become the Lever house. The prairie-style house, built in 1913, was slightly altered to suit the vision Parisot had of the place that Mrs. Lever, Angus and Dorian call home.
The Jacksons' house was found in the nearby rural community of Coupland, Texas. The house, set back from the road by a three-acre front yard, had been abandoned for more than 20 years. The construction crew had to completely refurbish the structure, re-flooring, re-roofing and re-landscaping the property while maintaining the dilapidated charm of the Jacksons' somewhat bohemian home.
Dorian: This is a gift for your baby. (Hands Sally a toy) It's an A.H.-1 Cobra. I fly them for the Army National Guard. The Viet Cong called them the 'muttering death.'
Sally: Thank you.
Dorian: And it's non-toxic, I think.
Producer Johnson is hard-pressed to categorize the type of film he feels "Home Fries" is. He concludes, "I think it's easy to look at this film and say, 'Gee, I think it's a quirky comedy.' But I feel that the comedies that have worked and have lasted over the years can't be classified as either mainstream or quirky. They simply tell the story of ordinary people being taken through -- sometimes willingly, sometimes forcibly -- extraordinary events in their lives. In 'Home Fries,' we have a romance between these two likable characters and yet, watching it all, it's sometimes anything but...romantic. But I catch myself observing this story take on a life of its own, just sitting on the sidelines with a big smile on my face."
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Dean Parisot (Director) won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film and a Best Direction ACE Award for "The Appointments of Dennis Jennings," starring Steven Wright. "Tom Goes to the Bar," another short film by Parisot, won critical acclaim as well as the first prize "Golden Bear" at the Berlin Film Festival.
A native of Wilton, Connecticut and a graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, Parisot attended the Sundance Institute, where he was a fellow at the prestigious June Lab.
Parisot's extensive television directing credits include the pilot episodes for "The Conversation," "The Marshal" and "Bakersfield P.D." Episodic directing credits include "ER" and "Northern Exposure." Parisot also co-wrote the movie "Still Life" and has won two CableACE Awards, including one for the comedy special "Kathy & Mo." "Home Fries" is his feature film debut.
Academy Award-winning producer Mark Johnson (Producer) most recently completed production on the screen adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winner Willie Morris' novel, "My Dog Skip," with Kevin Bacon, Diane Lane and Luke Wilson. He is currently executive producing "The Astronaut's Wife," starring Johnny Depp and Charlize Theron. Previously, he produced "Donnie Brasco," directed by Mike Newell and starring Al Pacino and Johnny Depp. Johnson also produced the critically acclaimed "A Little Princess," based on the Frances Hodgson Burnett children's novel of the same name, and, earlier, the international hit "A Perfect World," starring Kevin Costner and Clint Eastwood.
Before going independent, Johnson produced all of director Barry Levinson's films, beginning with Levinson's 1982 debut, "Diner," which he executive produced. This was followed by "The Natural," "Young Sherlock Holmes," "Tin Men," "Good Morning Vietnam," "Rain Man" (which won four Academy Awards including Best Picture), "Avalon" (which was the first film under the pair's Baltimore Pictures banner), "Bugsy" (which was nominated for 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture), "Toys" and "Jimmy Hollywood." Johnson was also honored with Golden Globe Awards for both "Rain Man" and "Bugsy."
Johnson served as executive producer of director Steven Soderbergh's "Kafka," and presented, with Levinson, the 1990 Academy Award-winning foreign language film "Journey of Hope" and the acclaimed political satire "Bob Roberts." Johnson also executive produced "Sniper," the directorial debut of Luis Llosa, and produced "Wilder Napalm." "Quiz Show," directed by Robert Redford, was a Baltimore Pictures production as well. Johnson and Levinson decided to form separate production companies in the spring of 1994, though they continue to work on several joint projects.
His additional upcoming projects include executive producing the CBS series "L.A. Doctors," starring Ken Olin, Matt Craven and Sheryl Lee.
Barry Levinson (Producer) was awarded the 1988 Best Director Oscar for "Rain Man," starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. "Rain Man" also won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Screenplay. In 1987, Levinson directed Robin Williams in the comedy "Good Morning Vietnam," which became one of the year's most acclaimed and popular movies. In 1991 "Bugsy," which Levinson directed and produced (with Mark Johnson and Warren Beatty), was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Levinson has used his home town as the setting for three widely praised features: "Diner," the semi-autobiographical comedy-drama that marked his directorial debut; "Tin Men," starring Danny DeVito and Richard Dreyfuss as two warring aluminum-siding salesmen; and "Avalon," an evocative multi-generational story of an American family.
After attending American University in Washington, D.C., Levinson moved to Los Angeles, where he began acting as well as writing and performing comedy routines. He then went on to write several television variety shows, including "The Marty Feldman Comedy Show" (which originated in England), "The Tim Conway Show" and "The Carol Burnett Show," for which he won two Emmy Awards for writing. A meeting with Mel Brooks led Levinson to collaborate with the veteran comedian/filmmaker on the features "Silent Movie" and "High Anxiety."
As a screenwriter, Levinson has received three Academy Award nominations -- for "...And Justice For All," "Diner" and "Avalon." Levinson's other directorial credits include "The Natural," "Young Sherlock Holmes," "Toys" (co-written with Valerie Curtin), "Jimmy Hollywood" (which he also wrote and produced), "Disclosure" and "Sleepers." More recently, he produced and directed the science-fiction thriller "Sphere," starring Dustin Hoffman (his fourth collaboration with the director), Sharon Stone and Samuel L. Jackson and based on Michael Crichton's bestseller. Levinson also directed the David Mamet-scripted political satire "Wag the Dog," which was nominated for two Academy Awards and three Golden Globe Awards.
Levinson returned to Baltimore to film the television series "Homicide: Life on the Street." His work on the critically acclaimed drama earned him an Emmy Award for Best Individual Director of a Dramatic Series, as well as two Peabody Awards, two Writers Guild Awards and numerous other honors.
At the beginning of 1998, Barry Levinson partnered with Paula Weinstein, forming Baltimore/Spring Creek Pictures. Together, they are producing "Analyze This," starring Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal, and "The Incredible Mr. Limpet," starring Jim Carrey. Levinson is also working on his fourth Baltimore feature, "Liberty Heights," slated to begin production in the fall of 1998. This year, the filmmaker was also honored as one of Variety's "Billion Dollar Directors" and ShoWest's "Director of the Year."
Lawrence Kasdan (Producer) has directed and written or co-written "Body Heat," "The Big Chill," "Silverado," "The Accidental Tourist," "Grand Canyon" (co-written with his wife, Meg Kasdan) and "Wyatt Earp." Along with these movies, he has directed "I Love You to Death" (written by John Kostmayer) and "French Kiss" (written by Adam Brooks). Kasdan's credits as a writer include four of the most successful films in motion picture history: "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "The Empire Strikes Back," "Return of the Jedi" and "The Bodyguard."
"The Big Chill," which he co-wrote with Barbara Benedek, was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. "The Accidental Tourist," which was named Best Picture of 1988 by the New York Film Critics Circle, received four Academy Award nominations and earned Geena Davis a Best Supporting Actress award. The script for "Grand Canyon" earned Lawrence and Meg Kasdan Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Original Screenplay. The film received the Golden Bear Award for Best Picture at the 1992 Berlin Film Festival. "Mumford," written and directed by Kasdan, will be released in 1999.
Charles Newirth (Producer) most recently executive produced the Tom Shadyac film "Patch Adams," starring Robin Williams. His executive producing credits also include "City of Angels" and "Ghosts of Mississippi," as well as "Phenomenon" and "The American President." Newirth co-produced the Academy Award-winning blockbuster "Forrest Gump," as well as "Toys" and "Bugsy" with Mark Johnson and Barry Levinson. He also associate produced Barry Levinson's "Avalon" and "The Package."
Newirth grew up in Westchester County in New York and went on to graduate with a degree in film from Ohio State University. He completed post-graduate work at New York University and landed his first job in the entertainment industry as location manager on "Flashdance" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." He also served as production manager on "Throw Momma from the Train" and "RoboCop."
Vince Gilligan (Screenwriter) currently serves as co-executive producer of Fox's critically acclaimed drama series, "The X-Files," and recently signed an exclusive, multi-year deal to develop and produce drama series with Twentieth Century Fox Television.
Gilligan's other feature credit is "Wilder Napalm," starring Debra Winger and Dennis Quaid; two of his other original screenplays ("Convenience" and "2-Face") are set to be produced by Mark Johnson, with production slated for this year.
Gilligan's "The X-Files" episodic credits include "Soft Light," "Pusher," "Unruhe," "Paper Hearts" and "Small Potatoes," the last garnering recognition from TV Guide as "One of Television's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time." In addition, he co-wrote "Memento Mori," which was honored with an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series, and the highly-rated episode "Leonard Betts." Other awards accorded Gilligan for his work on "The X-Files" are a 1997 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Drama Series and a 1996 Golden Globe for Best Dramatic Series. Additionally, he won the 1989 Virginia Governor's Screenwriting Award for best original feature screenplay for "Home Fries."
Romi Lassally (Executive Producer) began her career in the entertainment industry more than 10 years ago as an assistant in casting. Since then she has risen through the ranks, holding various executive positions, including Vice President of Production for Dawn Steel and Walt Disney Pictures and Senior Vice President of Production for Scott Rudin and QDE, working with Quincy Jones and David Salzman.
Polish-born Jerzy Zielinski's (Director of Photography) work was recently seen in Agnieszka Holland's period drama, "Washington Square," starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Albert Finney, Maggie Smith and Ben Chaplin. Zielinski's other feature credits include "That Darn Cat," "Powder," "Swing Kids," "Paradise," "Fools of Fortune," "The January Man," "In a Shallow Grave," "Stars and Bars" and "Cal." He also provided additional photography on Holland's "The Secret Garden." Zielinski counts among his other credits "Little Surprises" (directed by Jeff Goldblum and recipient of an Academy Award nomination for Best Live Action Short) and "Shivers" (winner of the Special Jury Award at the Berlin Film Festival). He is currently photographing Kevin Williamson's "Killing Mrs. Tingle."
Barry Robison (Production Designer) has lent his talents to a variety of independent feature films such as "My Family/Mi Familia," "Sensation," "Loved," "Double Switch" and "Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh." His list of television credits includes David Mamet's "The Water Engine" and "The Conversation," directed by Dean Parisot. The San Mateo, California native began his career in New York City designing for theater and opera. He recently completed the feature "Rocket Boys," slated for a fall 1998 release.
Nicholas C. Smith, A.C.E. (Editor) began his career in the entertainment industry at ABC Sports. He went on to become an assistant editor on the telecast of the 1976 Olympic Games. Smith's list of feature film credits includes "Fly Away Home," "Bram Stoker's Dracula," "Torch Song Trilogy," "Faithful," "PCU," "In a Shallow Grave" and "The Roommate." He also worked on "Losing Isaiah," "Rookie of the Year," "The Secret Garden," "The War of the Roses" and "Spaceballs." The Philadelphia native attended New York's School of Visual Arts, where he majored in photography. His upcoming projects include Wayne Wang's "Anywhere But Here," starring Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman.
Rachel Portman (Composer) received an Academy Award for composing the score for "Emma"; previously, she received BAFTA nominations for "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit" and "The Woman in Black."
A prolific composer for motion pictures, Portman's credits include "Beloved" (directed by Jonathan Demme), "Marvin's Room," "The Adventures of Pinocchio," "To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar," "Palookaville," "Pyromaniacs: A Love Story," "Smoke," "Only You," "The Road to Wellville," "The War of the Buttons," "Sirens," "The Joy Luck Club," "Benny and Joon," "Ethan Frome," "Used People" and "Antonia & Jane."
Among Portman's scoring credits are numerous projects for British television, including "Elizabeth R," "The Cloning of Joanna May," an eight-part series on Greek myths for "Storyteller" and "Precious Bane." She also provided the score and some of the songs for the recent video release "Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas."