- Full Synopsis
- Flight Path
- Flight Manifest – The Cast
- Prepare for Takeoff
- Visual Approach: Lensing the Film
- In-Flight Turbulence - SouthJet Flight #227
- Flight Pattern: The Locations
In this action-packed mystery thriller, Academy Award® winner, Denzel Washington stars as Whip Whitaker, a seasoned airline pilot, who miraculously crash lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe, saving nearly every soul on board. After the crash, Whip is hailed as a hero, but as more is learned, more questions than answers arise as to who or what was really at fault and what really happened on that plane?
Flight is directed by Academy Award winner Robert Zemekis and stars Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Don Cheadle and Melissa Leo.
Paramount Pictures' dramatic thriller "Flight," stars Denzel Washington as Captain Whitaker, a seasoned airline pilot who miraculously crash lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe, saving nearly every soul on board. Afterwards, Whip is hailed as a hero, but as more is learned, more questions than answers arise as to who or what was really at fault and what really happened on that plane.
Paramount Pictures presents "Flight," directed by Robert Zemeckis. Produced by Parkes/MacDonald Production's Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, and ImageMovers' Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey, and Jack Rapke. The executive producer is Cherylanne Martin. Original screenplay by John Gatins. Director of Photography is Don Burgess, ASC. Production Designer is Nelson Coates. Costume Designer is Louise Frogley. Special Effects Supervisor is Michael Lantieri. Visual Effects Supervisor is Kevin Baillie. Edited by Jeremiah O'Driscoll.
The film stars Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly, John Goodman, Bruce Greenwood, Melissa Leo, Brian Geraghty, Tamara Tunie, Nadine Velazquez, and James Badge Dale.
"Flight" presents the first pairing of Academy Award® winners Denzel Washington and director Robert Zemeckis, who marks his return to live-action dramatic storytelling after years of success on the forefront of directing and producing movies utilizing motion capture technology.
"Flight" is distributed by Paramount Pictures.
On a mid-Autumn morning, SouthJet 227 departs Orlando, Florida for what should be a routine trip. Captain Whip Whitaker is at the helm of the Jackson-Ridgefield 88 Passenger Jet along with his young clean-cut co-pilot and first officer Ken Evans, who is Whip's polar opposite in every way. The flight soon encounters heavier-than-anticipated turbulence as they fly into a massive storm. Not a problem for Whip who steers the plane into the clearing, albeit in an unconventional and eyebrow raising way, to the relief of the flight's 96 passengers and six members of the flight crew.
But that's when things start to go really wrong. Abruptly, the pilots encounter a series of inexplicable mechanical malfunctions, causing the plane to rock and dip and shudder like a roller coaster. As these breakdowns began to multiply, causing the plane to spiral downward and seemingly out of the pilots' control, Whip decides that his only recourse to maintain a level altitude is to maneuver the 50-ton plane into a barrel roll and complete inversion, which will allow it to glide without its engines until he can right the plane and land it. Within minutes, unable to make it to the airport, flying the plane just a few hundred feet off the ground, Whip finds a patch of nearby land adjacent to a church where he can attempt his landing. At 140 miles per hour, he inverts the aircraft and brings it down. The impact is shattering, but Whip, in an incredible, ingenious stroke, calmly manages to land safely enough to save all but six of the one hundred and two souls on board.
For his miraculous landing, the media hails Whip as a hero. But, there are lingering questions. The cause of the crash isn't entirely clear to his superiors and particularly to the NTSB, although Whip is quite sure had he not been in the cockpit, the plane would have nose-dived and all its passengers would surely be dead. Nonetheless an investigation ensues.
As the query drags on, Whip is literally grounded as he struggles with his considerable demons. Convinced that his actions saved the passengers on-board, he is equally certain that his personal issues are not all that extraordinary and certainly had no bearing on the crash. Old and new allies rally around him. His friend and union representative Charlie Anderson takes on his case, as does the canny, sincere lawyer Hugh Lang. Whip's droll pal Harling Mays is also around for support, if not always the moral kind. Along the way, Whip meets a kindred spirit, Nicole. A down-on-her-luck photographer and recovering substance abuser, Nicole may be just what Whip needs. If only Whip could figure out exactly what that is.
"Flight" tells a harrowing story about one man's amazing, heroic feat and how, in the process of defending himself, he discovers his true grace and valor.
In 1999, screenwriter and former actor John Gatins served as a technical advisor on a "military-themed epic" where he spent much of his time with other technical advisors, mostly naval pilots. They shared "the most insane stories" about what they had to do to land these planes on ships in the roiling seas. For the writer, who harbors a fascination and a fear of flying, these vivid stories set his imagination in motion. The pressure, the exhilaration of accomplishing these mid-air acrobatics – what kind of mindset would they have and how would they find release back in the company of mortals on earth?
So began a twelve-year odyssey that ultimately brought "Flight" to the screen. The main dramatic conflict explored in "Flight" is Whip Whitaker's inability to be truthful to himself. He is an expert in denial, even as his personal downward spiral increases exponentially. As Gatins describes it, "'Flight' is a character study about a guy really struggling with his own demons. And what should have been a typical day of work for him becomes a series of unfortunate events that leads to a disastrous occurrence on his plane. From there a larger story unfolds both personally and professionally for him. As that world continues to unfold, we watch the man in the center unravel."
Gatins extensively researched real-life air disasters. At that time, the legendary US Airways "Miracle on the Hudson" river landing accomplished by heroic pilot Sully Sullenberger, was still ten years away. However, with the help of the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) and interviews with pilots, eventually, Gatins drafted a 35-page outline of what ultimately became "Flight" – which became more than a mere disaster film when he also wove in some of his own history.
"Part of my own personal life found its way into the fabric of the screenplay. For me it was an exercise examining my own kind of issues and demons that I've had throughout my life and how they relate to this character who has a big event that happens in his life," Gatins says.
Gatins explains that part of Whip's addiction includes the lies he tells himself and the ones that other people ask him to maintain. His real crucible comes when "…the weight of those lies come to a breaking point where he's going to have to make a decision," Gatins says.
Gatins had just finished the film Dreamer, in 2006, which Producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald worked on as Studio Chiefs at DreamWorks. He gave Parkes and MacDonald 40 pages of the screenplay to read. Says Parkes, "It was unfinished and raw, but it was as gripping a forty pages as either of us had ever read. The main character, ultimately so brilliantly played by Denzel, is someone completely on top of it, heroic and dashing and yet completely vulnerable inside."
MacDonald adds that even though Gatins hadn't actually finished the script at the time they first read it, the story intrigued them nonetheless. "We loved the potential it had. It had complex, morally compromised characters; it played as a courtroom thriller but as the plot progresses, you realize that for Whip to win his case would be his great downfall, if he doesn't face the truth of who he is, he will be destroyed in a much more profound way. In a more universal sense, we all can relate to certain things that we don't want to face or come clean on, the lies we tell ourselves and each other." Parkes adds, "I loved the idea that you're almost rooting for a bad thing to happen to the main character because that will be the beginning of his redemption. And I'd never seen that story told."
What followed was eighteen months of intense development, which resulted in a draft in late 2007 which is the basis of the film that was subsequently produced. "Movies as special as Flight often take the longest time to get to the screen," says Parkes. "It was ultimately about attracting the right elements, which is why everything changed when Denzel read the script in 2009 and committed."
Now the search was on for a director. In the summer of 2010, when the film of Gatins' screenplay, "Real Steel" was in production in Detroit, one of that film's producers, ImageMovers' Jack Rapke, read the draft of "Flight" and thought it was a project that his ImageMovers colleague, Robert Zemeckis, might be interested in directing. The story captivated all of them and Gatins' 12-year writing project finally became a movie.
For Zemeckis, "Flight" marks the return to live-action filmmaking. The innovative director has spent the past decade directing and producing films that utilize motion capture technology and indeed Zemeckis has long been on the forefront of special and visual effects technology in films. However, strong characters with compelling emotional journeys anchor all of his films, including ‘Flight."
"What really appealed to me was how complex all the characters were – they are all sort of shaded grey. They aren't the typical ‘good guys, bad guys.' Everyone in the film is, to some degree, damaged and that becomes the dramatic engine for the piece," Zemeckis notes.
"What's also interesting about it is that the suspense in the movie comes from the uncertainty of what the characters are going to do, how they are going to respond. It's not like there's a ticking bomb or a meteor that is coming to destroy the earth. The anticipation comes from not knowing what the characters are going to do from scene to scene. It's so rare to find a screenplay that has that kind of depth and complexity. That's what compelled me. I wanted to see how this was going to resolve, what would happen to Whip's character."
Zemeckis' longtime producing partner Steve Starkey understood his attraction to the project. "Bob's palette is so big, so his decision to make this movie didn't surprise me," say Starkey. The "Flight" producer, who has collaborated with his ImageMovers partner Robert Zemeckis for 25 years, notes that as a pilot himself, Zemeckis "… inherently understood the demands of that profession, and so was keenly interested in conveying a sense of reality and believability to the plane sequences in the film. However, the plane crash is primarily a device that allowed him to get to the real story. At the core it's a soul-searching story about a man's struggle to be truthful with himself. The plane crash triggers a series of events that causes him to look deep down inside of himself and discover the truth about his own character."
Contrary to most production schedules, Zemeckis shot the film sequentially so that performances could grow organically, allowing the actors and filmmakers to learn from and expand upon their characters as the film evolved. To help achieve that he invited screenwriter John Gatins to be on set daily throughout the film to consult and enhance the screenplay as changes or revelations occurred.
What didn't change was Whip. He is the quintessential anti-hero, something Zemeckis makes plain at the start of the film.
"I don't think there's any doubt that anybody watching this movie can't be but shocked when they see the scene at the beginning of the film where Whip engages in every excess imaginable and then turns into a trusted pilot when he walks outside the door," Starkey contends. "It's a shock to the system. It's a turn that nobody expects, and just makes it even greater the way Bob shot it, with a shocking sense of humor."
The harrowing flight, it turns out, is just the beginning of the journey. Through Whip Whitaker, "Flight" explores high stakes moral dilemmas. According to Gatins, "Whip is a guy who, through his own hand has been put in a compromised position, but does this miraculous piece of flying, and earns the right to control his own destiny. What it came down to for me was the question of the value of living an honest life. It's part of an element of the movie where we want to invite the audience into Whip's world to be the ‘court of public opinion' and to watch him struggle with the forces that are both trying to clear him and make him a hero. How do we judge him? By his remarkable piece of flying, or by his personal demons?"
Producer Walter Parkes adds that part of Whip's tailspin has to do with the very system that anoints him a superhero.
"There's this strange turning convention on its head in a way. Whip has done everything right – he landed the plane miraculously and saved lives. He's embraced as a hero but the problem is that he is also a victim of it. Ultimately the movie is about how to live one's life in good faith – and that means telling the truth," Parkes says.
Flight Manifest – The Cast
Academy Award® winner Denzel Washington stars in the dramatic lead role of Whip Whitaker, a deeply flawed yet remarkably skilled pilot who successfully lands a doomed plane, saving 96 of the 102 lives on board. To the media and American people, Whip is a hero. Yet his life is a mess of contradictions, vices and poor judgment. One of the most esteemed actors of his generation, Washington has convincingly portrayed police officers, detectives, lawyers, nuclear submarine officers, and train conductors. With "Flight," he adds commercial airline pilot to his resume.
"It was just so much fun watching Denzel. I mean, you can't believe what you're seeing when you're watching him perform. The genius of Denzel is when he can do something that I like to call ‘performing behind the eyes.' There are many scenes where you can just feel his misery and it's breathtaking to see. He's truly one of the greatest actors that we have working today. It was a dream come true to be able to work with him in this part," Zemeckis says.
"We were so lucky to be working with Denzel," producer Starkey adds. "When you see him in character you can't imagine anybody else doing it.
Upon first reading the script, Washington immediately knew that the character and story of Whip Whitaker had all of the underpinnings of emotions and character traits that appealed to him. "Before the movie fully came together," recalls John Gatins," I sat down with Denzel for two hours and he told me his reaction to the script. "It struck many notes for him. He said, ‘You know, this is dangerous material,' with a kind of smile - with that kind of Denzel smile. I could tell that it really fascinated him."
Gatins notes that Washington was also very interested in his personal connection to the film. "The first time I sat down with Denzel to talk about the script, he immediately went to "that" place because he's an actor who needs to know it all," Gatins says. "He has a process by which he immediately zeroed in on me and said, ‘Tell me that story. I get that you did research about every plane that's ever crashed, and what could happen to the plane in our movie, but I really want to know about your personal story -- how did you come to this, and where are you at with your own disease as far as addiction is concerned.' We had a very wide-open conversation. He was amazing in that way."
Washington actually read the script long before Zemeckis was attached to the movie but was thrilled when he heard that Zemeckis was interested in directing "Flight."
"I thought he was just perfect for it – that's when the film really took off for me," Washington says.
Early in the process, Starkey asked Washington what he, as a producer, could do to help him prepare for the role of Whit Whitaker. "He said the most important thing for me is learning how to be a pilot," Starkey recalls. Starkey notes that Washington wanted to work with a flight instructor and go through serious training so that portraying a pilot would become second nature, notably for the scenes that placed him in the cockpit and behind the plane's control. Starkey continues, "So we hooked him up with a pilot in Atlanta and he went into a simulator and spent many hours training so he could become well-versed in flying an aircraft. It's very believable when you listen to him communicating with the control tower, speaking with his co-pilot, and just piloting in general."
Washington also took great pains to let the pilots know that the movie wasn't an indictment of them.
"I wanted them to know that the movie was not trying to knock airlines or pilots. It's not so much about flying as it is about addiction, at least as it relates to my character. So he could work in a post office but flying a plane is the most heightened dramatic situation. But it's really about a man who has issues and he could be a filmmaker, a pilot or a plumber. The addiction and denial is the same and hopefully the recovery is too. But being a pilot is a tough, high-pressure job. You fly from LA to NY to Hong Kong, spend 24 hours there, turn around and come back and then do it again. That's hard on the body, you're alone in these hotels with strangers and your flight attendants become your family. But it could be anyone who spends that lonely night in a hotel room wrestling with demons," Washington notes.
Washington, Zemeckis and Gatins also poured through the script together, discussing, analyzing and internalizing it. It is an extremely naturalistic process that allows the team to understand the character from the inside out.
"It's not really rehearsal in the classic sense, but we got into a conference room and for hours and hours we just talked through the scenes, to ensure we were all making the same move. We ask all the key questions then, we go into the script and discuss whether a line would be better one way or the other. It allows us to get into the deep psychology of the character and understand what he is feeling at any given moment. And then a great actor like Denzel can take all that and make it happen through his extraordinary performance," Zemeckis says.
It was during these conversations, Washington says, that Whip began to materialize for him – an ineffable creative process that Washington embraces but doesn't like to dissect too much.
"John Gatins and Bob Zemeckis thoroughly understood this character … every now and then, that kind of collaboration works. You can have the same great people in a room with a great script and still screw it up. In this case, I think Bob fashioned a terrific film, and I was just a part of that process. There's no magic pill but I got a lot of the character work done just sitting in that room with Bob and John, working on the script," Washington says.
Producer Walter Parkes adds that part of Zemeckis' gift as a filmmaker is his ability to handle both the technical and the human aspects of the creative process.
"In one scene, he is not wearing his brace or using a cane and in the next he walks in with his brace. He puts it on when he needs it but not necessarily because of his physical problems. He's trying to save his behind. He's a great liar. He's in denial and trying to save himself through lies," Washington says.
For a character as complicated and nuanced as Whip, this proved invaluable. In a way, Whip is "acting" all the time. Washington conveys Whip's consummate ability to deceive everyone, including himself, through Whip's confident charm but also via smaller but significant details. Post-crash, Whip recovers in the hospital but his injuries – or lack thereof – reveals something deeper about his personality.
"I don't ever ask an actor where he goes to get his performance. My job as director is to throttle that performance – allowing the actor to understand how happy or sad he might be at a certain moment, for example. Where the actor goes to get that emotion, that's his gift and I don't ever want to know where he goes for that stuff," Zemeckis offers.
"There is just a level of pure cinematic mastery in watching Bob work. He is completely knowledgeable in every aspect of the technology of filmmaking – there isn't a job on the set that he does not understand or couldn't do himself. And yet, when it comes to the actors, he is completely protective of their work and approach and creates a supportive and safe atmosphere for them at all times."
For a character as complicated and nuanced as Whip, this proved invaluable. In a way, Whip is "acting" all the time. Washington conveys Whip's consummate ability to deceive everyone, including himself, through Whip's confident charm but also via smaller but significant details. Post-crash, Whip recovers in the hospital but his injuries – or lack thereof – reveals something deeper about his personality.
Rising British actress Kelly Reilly is Nicole Maggen, a beautiful but troubled young Atlanta woman struggling with her own issues of substance abuse, who befriends Whip."She has her own personal kind of plane crash that kind of interweaves with Whip's story," Gatins notes. "They meet in a fascinating way at the hospital, at a really low point in both of their lives, and that becomes the genesis of their relationship which carries us through a fair amount of the story."
The filmmakers conducted an extensive talent search and audition process to cast this emotionally charged role. Reilly, best known for numerous television and film roles in her native England and who was most recently seen opposite Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law in the blockbuster "Sherlock Holmes" series, auditioned for the role the old fashioned way.
"Finding Kelly was one of those great Hollywood stories. She knew I was casting the part and happened to be in Texas on vacation. She put herself on tape and sent it to our casting director. I saw this performance, and said, ‘Wow! Bring her in!.' I knew her from the ‘Sherlock Holmes' movies but because she's an English actress, it didn't occur to us at first. I had to meet her. And once she read with Denzel, it was clear they had such great chemistry. We all felt it, including Denzel. We never actually had to do a traditional screen test, she had such a presence and completely understood Nicole's vulnerability and quiet resolve," Zemeckis says.
"Kelly kind of stopped us all in our tracks," Starkey enthuses. "We were riveted by what she did."Parkes add that she brought a critical, intrinsic truth to the role.
"Nicole starts out as a life preserver for Whip. He thinks maybe he can't control his life but he could possibly save her. But what surprises him – and the audience – is that Kelly brought such an honesty to it – she refuses to be brought down by him, to give up on her own survival," Parkes says.
The movie and role was very much on Reilly's radar, but for her, just meeting the creative team was reward enough.
"I had been very passionate about this script for quite a few weeks. Lots of people have input into a decision like this but suddenly I was in L.A. to meet Bob. And it was an amazing day actually. I was very nervous, but I knew I was in a room full of people who I really wanted to work with because they were so professional and heartfelt and intelligent about the film and the characters. They made me feel extremely comfortable and welcome. When I walked out, I thought, well you know what, this meeting is a gift in itself. I thought it was a privilege just to experience that and if I got the job, it was a bonus. Then I got the job!" Reilly relates.
"Flight" marks Reilly's first movie to film in America and her first occasion to play an American. As such, she worked diligently with a dialect coach to perfect her Georgia accent, but it was the film's more universal themes of recovery and redemption that appealed to her. When Nicole meets Whip, she is struggling with serious drug addiction. Their chance encounter in the hospital where he is recuperating from the crash and she is recovering from an overdose ultimately puts her on a life saving path to recovery.
"This story is also about the people you sometimes need at certain times in your life and how they can change you. And Nicole is somebody who is trying to change, but she is chained to her addiction. Whip saves her in a way. He takes her out of the world that she's in and gives her a place where she can try to heal herself. And then she also becomes very much part of AA, a program that helps people recover once they're ready to ask for some help. But she wouldn't have done that on her own. Bob had this thought that once Nicole survives her O.D., she realizes how beautiful life is and she doesn't want to be a slave to this drug. As she's trying to get back into the light, she tries to help Whip find that place too, but, he's still very embedded in his denial. As she gets better, she starts to put up a mirror to him," Reilly says.
Reilly describes Nicole as "alone and broken" before she meets Whip.
"When we meet her, she's on her own journey as an addict. Her drug of choice is heroin. We realize why later on in the film. With the loss of her mother and an alcoholic father, she just made wrong decisions, she took some bad roads, and ended up very lost," Reilly says.
Gatins describes Nicole and Whip as " … two people who are damaged - and damaged in the same way - they are immediately drawn to each other he says. "Although they couldn't be more different people in their everyday lives - he's a pilot and she's a photographer junkie - it didn't matter. They're immediately swept into each other's lives.Describing the experience of working with Denzel Washington, Reilly says it was like "being a boxer in a ring with a heavyweight champion." She continues: "He's so intense, brilliant, and heartbreaking. In nearly every scene he moved me tremendously with the truth of where he goes with his character. It's really humbling to watch somebody be that truthful to a character going on quite an ugly kind of journey."
To assist Reilly in preparing her character, the filmmakers enlisted Mitchell Riley, a local Atlanta street artist and former addict himself, who worked with her on the techniques and physical sensations inherent to shooting up heroin and familiarized her with drug paraphernalia such as syringes and spoons. They met several time prior to filming and Riley was on set to monitor the action during filming.
"The real gift he gave me," Reilly continues, "is that he talked with me about his addiction and journey into recovery. And that psychology is what was interesting for me to apply into my character, how one can pull themselves out of that emotional prison."
Acclaimed actor Don Cheadle plays Chicago-based defense attorney Hugh Lang, who is brought in to counsel Whip Whitaker on the possible criminal negligence charges he may face for his involvement in the plane crash. For Cheadle, "Flight" marks the first time he has worked alongside Denzel Washington since his own breakout co-starring performance as Mouse in Carl Franklin's 1995 crime drama "Devil in A Blue Dress."
"It comes to light during the investigation that Captain Whitaker has taken drugs and is drunk prior to the flight," says Cheadle. "It comes through in the toxicology report. This is a huge deal for me as I've got to figure out some way to deal with it, to try and keep him in his job, and keep the airline solvent, and really protect everybody."Theirs is a rocky relationship, neither man is fond of the other and the trust required between lawyer and client is tenuous at best.
"The way Denzel and I talked about their relationship is that Whip does not like Hugh and yet he is there to save Whip. For obvious reasons, Hugh feels likewise about Whip. Through their very interesting relationship, you can see into the deep psychology of Whip's character. He cannot stand the idea that this is where he is in his life, that he needs somebody like Hugh to help him. He doesn't quite understand how he got to this place and all he can do is lash out yet he needs him because he's going to save him from having to go to prison. It's a very complicated, very magnificent relationship," Zemeckis says.
It was clear to Cheadle in discussions with Zemeckis that the director wanted to explore the film's deeper meanings and to probe what is going on with Whip and each character. Cheadle explains, "My character is trying to help Whip, but he's also trying to help him avoid responsibility in a way. And that's really the struggle: me acting in the capacity of a defense attorney trying to protect him, and him trying to figure out what protection really means."
Cheadle notes also that often Whip is not the most likable character and is especially disparaging of Lang. Cheadle adds that this aspect was a critical part of Whip's psyche and emotional journey and, he says, it is a testament to Washington that he was prepared to explore the darker qualities of Whip Whitaker.
"I think when you cast somebody like Denzel in a part like this you can expect to see a real willingness on his part to go to some pretty uncomfortable places. Everyone wants to be liked, to be thought of as the good guy, but Whip's got to unleash some demons to let this happen and in the process, let the audience see the uglier side," Cheadle says.Ultimately, Cheadle adds, Whip's travails lead to something redemptive.
"It's mostly about a person confronting who he really is, where he allows himself to be pulled under by those parts that are less buoyant, or will he fight and struggle to find some sort of a peace and release that may actually turn out to be spiritual at the end of the day?"
Award-winning veteran film and television actor John Goodman, previously appeared with Denzel Washington in the 1998 thriller "Fallen." In "Flight," Goodman stars as Whip's spirited best friend, Harling Mays, a man who is an anchor to his friend in his darkest moments. "Harling is Whip's confidante, friend, and party buddy, who, despite everything else, is his great supporter," Gatins says. "Despite the fact that he's a guy who maybe sells drugs and lives on the fringe of what people consider normal society, I think he's incredibly honest with, and loves, his best friend." Gatins adds that Whip's frenetic friend has a great affection for Whip and thus becomes the one person he can call in his time of need - "the guy Whip knows he can rely on."
He also becomes the character the audience can rely on for a laugh, even if his isn't the trustworthiest sort. It is a tightrope that Goodman walks with aplomb.
"John Goodman's character is the classic enabler and also the movie's comic release. You might consider him the most dangerous character in the movie; there's a truth to him and that's where comedy comes from. And John of course, is just a great actor, who has great comic timing and great ability to ad-lib and he just knew exactly what he needed to do for this character. To me, the great irony of the character is that he is so magnetic, you just can't get enough of him, but, in the end, he's Whip's pusher. He's the devil. And you can't wait to see him on screen." Zemeckis says.
The friendship between Whip and Harling is real but also co-dependent. Harling does genuinely take care of Whip but keeps them both on a Moebius strip of addiction and denial.
"They rely on each other and understand one another. Harling is the guy who provides what Whip needs and wants, and knows when to do it, he knows how low Whip is but he doesn't judge, he just provides," Washington says.Versatile Canadian actor Bruce Greenwood plays Whip's old friend, Charlie Anderson - a former military and commercial pilot who has known Whip since their days in the Navy and who is now the Pilot's Union rep assigned to work as Whip's contact and point person in the crash investigation of SouthJet 227. He last paired with Denzel Washington in the 2006 thriller, "Deja Vu,"
Greenwood, says that Charlie and the union he represents are not as concerned about Whip's celebrity hero status following the flight as they are in protecting their own jobs. "It's a moral and ethical slippery slope," he says. "Their choice is to either protect somebody who did something horribly wrong, but in exchange allow an airline to survive and two thousand people to keep their jobs, or to sacrifice this guy and let him deal with his own demons. It's tricky. It's not easy to answer."
Zemeckis calls Charlie the "everyman" of the movie.
"He's the guy who represents truth and justice and the right thing. Yet everyone around him seems to have so much more power, overwhelming what he's trying to do. His character just wants to help a good friend, someone who he knew all through his youth. They came up together in the Navy and he truly understands that Whip was put in a defective plane and still managed to save all those lives," Zemeckis says.Screenwriter Gatins adds that Greenwood's character is "the guy who bridges the gap between Whip's former self as a younger pilot and the guy he is today. Charlie knew Whip as a younger pilot when they flew together and then had their respective careers in the airline industry as pilots. And now he is a rep for the union and is given the assignment of trying to help Whip through this [post-crash] experience." Charlie has the agenda of his employer in trying to get Whip through the process cleanly and make sure he stays the hero America wants him to be."
Greenwood had a little experience with flying and even with crashing.
"My Grandpa was an instructor and he had a Dual Control Luskim Tail Dragger so I few lessons with him. I never actually took off or landed. I just did a lot of controlled turns and descents. I've crashed in a small plane and sunk. Everyone survived but now I have a little different connotation with flying," Greenwood relates.
Prepare for Takeoff
"Flight" commenced principal photography on October 12, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia and filmed for 48 days.
As the film delves into several specialized areas of expertise – commercial aviation, and substance abuse among them – it required very specific technical advisers to help the cast and the filmmakers create scenes that would be convincing to not only general audiences, but to insiders intimately familiar with those worlds.
"A movie of this scale, with so much detail required a tremendous number of technical advisers," Starkey explains. "We had a pilot who consulted on the real mechanics of flying a plane and the timing on when certain events would happen. We have an NTSB investigation, so we had an NTSB technical adviser to make sure we're accurately depicting the way they would investigate a crash. If we have other security personnel, or the FBI, all those different kinds of people are brought on to make sure we depicted everything accurately."
One of the principal flight consultants for the film was Larry Goodrich, an Atlanta-based former Air Force and commercial airline pilot who steered Denzel Washington and Brian Geraghty through flight simulator training and was on set during flight sequences to monitor the action. With Goodrich at their side, Washington and Geraghty completed flight simulator training in a six-axis full-motion flight simulator at an airline flight training center at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. There, they trained on the cockpit flight instrument panel to understand how to control the height, speed, altitude and other mechanism of the plane so operating it would become second nature while they acted. For additional practice, they also went through the programmed flight pattern of SouthJet 227's doomed flight, closely mirroring the exact sequence depicted in the film. "The filmmakers wanted the actors to have an idea of what the role of a pilot truly is, how he handles himself in emergency situations, his responsibilities, and his interaction with the rest of the crew," Goodrich explains. "With Denzel being the captain of the aircraft, he was very interested in learning about a pilot's main responsibilities and some of the background of work before we even get into the flight deck with the systems and instrumentations." The process began with the actors getting comfortable in their seats and familiarizing themselves with the flight instrument panel. "We broke it down into little sections, and allowed them to look at flight instrument, engine instruments, the flaps, slats, speed brakes, the yoke, and then how the auto pilot works," Goodrich says. "And once we went through all that, we showed them how one of the most disciplined parts of being a pilot is running everything through a checklist."
The simulator certainly helped Washington understand the mechanics of flying a plane and, well, it was fun.
"The simulator was great, it's what the pilots practice in and was incredibly helpful. I know I have great job – I got to drive trains in one movie and fly planes in the next," Washington says.
At the same time, actresses Tamara Tunie and Nadine Velazquez, who play SouthJet flight attendants, completed several courses at a state-of-the-art flight attendant training academy to learn basic flight attendant procedures and crash simulation.Production designer Nelson Coates and his art department team were responsible for creating the film's overall visual concept. Coates, who worked with Washington on his directorial debut, "Antwone Fisher," recalls being ecstatic and riveted when he first read the script – on an airplane. "Probably not the best place to read a script about a plane crash and resulting investigation," he concedes.
Coates realized that as challenging and difficult as the plane crash would be, "…the more difficult aspect of this project was to create and flesh out the back history of who Whip Whitaker really is and setting those elements of his life solidly in an environment and reality that would make it believable and give it an overriding, timeless familiarity." Coates notes the Whip and Nicole's surrounding aesthetic was literally crumbling, like their lives.
"Other than the airline and the airport, there's not a lot of glossy and shiny in the film," he observes. "There's lots of ‘peeling' going on so walls have things that are falling apart just in the same way our character are falling apart on certain levels." He says he wanted to stress the journey that Whip and Nicole are on together. He adds, "Whether it was the photographs in their rooms, or the colors on their walls, or just a little bit of set dressing, everything in their personal environments had to be carefully chosen. We only had a short time to explain their past history."
Coates says that crafting the film's overall design on a believable base is the chief mandate from Robert Zemeckis. "When you're dealing with a plane crash and investigation, you're dealing with a manufacturer of airlines, you're dealing with airliner branding, and we wanted to make sure that those elements felt real and believable and had a plausibility factor," he states.
He notes that while the plane crash is the plot vehicle that sets the main part of the story in motion, "Ultimately," he says, "this movie is not so much a movie about a plane crash, but more about the redemption of a man who is broken and has lost his way. We showcase the transformation as he's trying to come to grips with what his decisions had wrought on other people. So we wanted to make sure that the visuals didn't get in the way of that redemption."
Visual Approach: Lensing the Film
"Flight" required a cinematographer who could seamlessly handle the film's wildly kinetic, effects-heavy plane crash sequence, but also hone in on an intimate character study and personal drama. Director of photography Don Burgess, ASC, has collaborated with Robert Zemeckis as cinematographer on all of his live-action films beginning with "Forrest Gump." "Flight" is the first film that reunites them since "Cast Away." Despite the passage of time, Burgess states, "It didn't take us long to get back in the groove!" After all these years, Burgess still finds the experience of working with Zemeckis exciting and challenging." He is truly one of the best directors working today."
Working with a budget more modest than films they had done was both challenging and liberating.
Burgess recalls, "Bob and I had an abbreviated prep; we were under the gun from the get go. We had also had a very tight shooting schedule. Every day of the schedule had to be worked and re-worked to solve all the logistical problems of complicated airplane scenes, actors availability, set construction and the most important, trying to shoot as much in continuity as possible." Understandably, over the course of a 25-year partnership, Burgess and Zemeckis have developed a synchronicity that helped the production moving at a rapid pace.
To highlight the scenes where the characters are in an altered drug-addled state, Zemeckis and Burgess decided that the camera should be "floating," accomplished via Steadicam. All other times would be filmed more traditionally, mounted on dollies, also reflecting especially Whip's state of mind.
"First we needed to talk concept and style, which comes from the journey of the main character," Burgess says. "Bob wanted to use the camera as much as possible to keep the audience connected to Capt. Whitaker. When Whip is sober the camera is fairly steady and when he is intoxicated the camera tends to move to the level of his high. We varied focal length from wide to extremely wide and used different camera speeds to help the effect in those situations. "
Burgess has recently embraced digital cameras, and for "Flight" he decided to utilize the RED EPIC camera, noted for its small size. This was especially useful for the plane sequences where the camera would need to have room to maneuver inside the narrow cabin.
During pre-production, Zemeckis put together a pre-visualization of the plane crash and then sat down with Burgess for a long time to discuss how they would create the illusion of a plane flying upside down, where the camera should be, the movement, whose perspective it would reflect. In those early stages, it became clear the RED EPIC was perfect for the job.
Burgess recalls, "Very early in our prep I felt we need a camera that we could use on a Steadicam, shoot hand held, shoot high speed, be small enough to fit in the cockpit of our plane and also have the 5K of resolution for our wide screen release. I felt that the RED EPIC would be the best choice and I'm very pleased with the results. We shot the entire movie with that camera. We even mounted three of them on the front of a helicopter to shoot aerial plates, which were stitched together and used at the front windscreen of our plane. There isn't one film or digital camera that can do all of that except the RED."
In-Flight Turbulence - SouthJet Flight #227
Setting the film in motion – literally - is a harrowing flight sequence that follows Captain Whip Whitaker as he successfully pilots a passenger jet through an increasingly dangerous list of flight difficulties, starting with severe turbulence and culminating with a massive mechanical failure. Moments after a successful passage through the worst of a bad weather pattern, the JR-88 (the film's fictitious plane model) passenger jet inexplicably loses it hydraulics, pitch and vertical control, and begins an uncontrolled rapid descent. To gain control of the plane, Whitaker must rely on his experience, intuition and unique skill set to attempt some very risky, unorthodox, maneuvers, including inverting the plane into a glide.
Screenwriter Gatins says that the sequence in the script came from an actual accident he learned about in his research. "A professional pilot I consulted pointed me towards a past incident in which the wing on a plane's tail snapped and was in a fixed position that pitched its' nose down. They tried everything to right the plane and at one point had to invert it and flew upside down. They knew that their only shot of landing the plane would have to be a stable inverted flight, and then descend the plane close enough to the ground. Then they could turn the plane over and take their chances by bellying the plane on the ground, which is what Whip does in our movie."
Pre-visualized and meticulously planned in pre-production, the frightening sequence required the combined talents of the film's special and visual effects and stunt teams, along with some creative camerawork, utilizing the latest in film technology.
First came the plane itself. Coates worked with Robert Zemeckis for several months, developing an identity for the plane - everything from its logo to its in-flight magazine, setbacks, to its unique cockpit. His team modified several existing aircraft to create the SouthJet plane depicted in the film. Coates explains, "We wanted to it feel very familiar and yet, because of the nature and sensitive subject matter of the story, we needed to have our own manufacturer, our own airline company."
Many of the practical airline sets - the jet way, the cockpit, galley, and passenger cabin segments of the film's jet - were erected on multiple platforms and motion based rigs on Stage 5 at Atlanta's EUE/Screen Gems soundstage complex. To make the plane unique to the film's fictitious SouthJet Air Company, Coates created a custom jet influenced by several planes typically used in regional airlines, such as the MD-80 and 737 series. For much of the sequence, the plane was situated on air mattresses that could simulate the high frequency rocking motion of turbulence. Each corner of the SFX-rigged air mattress featured three-foot springs that could extend or contract to move the plane up or down, side to side, or port to starboard, controlled by the special effects technicians operating the rig. Meanwhile, cinematographer Don Burgess and his team used a wide array of camera cranes, mounting heads and other special equipment to film these technically complicated scenes: a Technocrane, Felix Crane, Libra Head, mini head, and a 360 roll cage, among others.
For the portion of the flight in which Whitaker inverts the plane 180 degrees so he can gain some control, the cabin segment of the plane was positioned inside a "rotisserie rig" – a term the filmmakers used due to its functional resemblance to the rotating cooking device - a circular ring that could spin the cabin 360 degrees. The custom-designed rig, had to be strong and secure enough to hold the 11,500-pound weight of that section of plane and its passengers. With the aircraft fit into steel rings and rollers, the film's special effects technicians were able to control a section of the plane and actually roll it around and invert it. Since the rotisserie rig couldn't handle the weight of a full-length, fully loaded plane, the cabin segments were filmed in two 14-row sections, each with 25 passengers per segment, and then married by the visual effects team to create the extended entirety of the plane interior. "We custom designed the three hundred and sixty degree roll-over rig to achieve the plane flipping upside down and all that action that takes place while the plane is inverted," says award-winning special effects supervisor and longtime Zemeckis team member Michal Lantieri.
The effects supervisor and his team had to design the rigs to support the weight of the plane - the cabin section of which was fashioned from an MD-80 airplane weighing 7800 pounds – in addition to the weight of the passengers. The design of the revolving rig also required that the cabin be open on both ends to allow for a camera crane to flow in and out while the cabin rolled around it.
During the days of inverted plane filming, the passengers – mostly stunt personnel – were fully inverted many times for up to two minutes per take. Charlie Croughwell, the film's stunt coordinator, compares filming of the flight sequences to "a roller coaster ride." He states: "We had to find people that could handle a roller coaster ride for eight hours each day, who could handle being upside down all day long, day in and day out - and make it exciting." Since the flight is a short regional trip from Orlando to Atlanta, it was essential to the believability for the stunt personnel to look like regular people. "The biggest challenge was that Bob Zemeckis did not want stunt guys that looked like your standard stunt people," he adds. "They should be just a wide variety of people that look like they just came from Disney World."
The professional stunt personnel were not the only ones who endured the inverted plane sequences. Croughwell notes that Denzel Washington did too. "Denzel is great – he wanted to do his own stuff," says Croughwell. "He doesn't want to have someone else in there doing his stunts, and it's great that he approaches it from that point-of-view. Obviously if we felt something was going to be too dangerous for him we would talk with him about it and work through it, but he was a trooper."
To make sure his ordinary-looking ensemble of stunt people could endure the days of filming, Croughwell and his team conducted several pre-filming safety tests. "We tested with people hanging upside down to see the lengths of time that was safely possible, and to note the effects that hanging upside down can cause," he explains. "All the blood rushes to your brain. And after sitting on a plane for eight hours, there are all kinds of circulation issues you have to deal with. So we had to deal with all those physical issues."Suspending actors, stunt people and sets in gravity-defying positions while also placing cameras and equipment was a tricky bit of choreography that had to be accomplished in lightning speed. Preparation on every level became more vital than usual.
"We actually hung everyone upside-down by their seat belts. I think the safety advisors said we could hang people that way for a minute. So we shot everything we could in 60 seconds and then we had to turn everybody right side up again. Then we would turn the plane upside-down again and do it all over. Everything had to be done in pieces and of course we didn't want to hurt anybody. Those sequences were very complicated and the Pre-Vis was essential so we knew where to to put the cameras and what we were looking for. And we really studied what would be the best angles to give the illusion of the plane turning upside down and, and diving. We needed to give that illusion the plane dropping through the sky with a camera inside the cockpit. A lot of that is camera work to make it look exciting. And hanging people upside down a minute at a time," Zemeckis says.
Flight Pattern: The Locations
The film's biggest set piece and the one most daunting to create, was the crash landing site of SouthJet flight #227, a southeast regional flight from Orlando to Atlanta, that is forced to make a landing attempt at a bean field two miles from Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. At the private Green Valley Farms located along a quiet stretch of Highway 278 in the city of Covington, production designer Nelson Coates and his team of art directors and construction personnel constructed a crash site for the doomed flight.
This location is also where, 10 days after the crash, Whip and his lawyer, Hugh Lang, standing upon a scaffolding platform, survey the devastation left by the craft. The location and the dramatic scene Whip encounters is a pivotal moment for him on so many levels.Coates notes that Atlanta is so developed that there were not many spaces anywhere in close proximity to where the crash is supposed to have taken place – two miles from the main airport. "We had to look further afield," Coates recalls.
The crash site called for an area that had some fields where the plane could touch down and a bluff where the production design crew could erect a 47-foot high turn-of-the-century gothic-style Pentecostal Church, the steeple of which the plane knocks over during its descent. On an empty field below, they placed the broken fuselage and other pieces of aircraft in a smoldering heap nearby. Location manager Eric Hooge first encountered what would become the crash site location after driving in a 35-mile perimeter in the rural outskirts of Atlanta. "That bluff also gave us a way to show the audience from up high what the plane looked like," producer Steve Starkey explains. Starkey notes that the crash site is the single largest set piece of any of the films he's produced.Earlier in production, an aerial crew shot all the pre-crash plate shots at the location that the editor and visual effects team would utilize to complete the crash landing sequence as the plane makes its final approach.
Another Atlanta-adjacent rural location was the Whitaker Farm, the property that Whip Whitaker inherited from his father, William Whitaker, Sr. - where he ran the Whitaker Crop Dusting Company. The home, the place Whip retreats to after being hounded by the media, was filmed at the private Hall's Flying Ranch, a 250 acre farm in an unincorporated rural area near the small city of Hampton, Georgia, 35 miles south of Atlanta, adjacent to the famed Atlanta Motor Speedway. Whip stays at the farm after leaving the hospital rather than return to his Atlanta house where the media has decamped.Coates says that Whip Whitaker's backstory heavily influenced the choice of that location. "Early on, Bob thought that as a character choice, that Whip's father should have been in the Tuskegee Airmen – and that would put him in the South, and maybe for years after he was in the Air Force he had a crop dusting business outside of Atlanta. So we needed to find a farmhouse that came with a grassy air strip and a barn or hangar of sorts." The tree-lined farm they found, surrounded by cattle ranches and horse stables, was previously the site of a family business that used to offer private flight training, and featured a barn-like hangar built to hold a small plane, and a 2150 foot grassy landing strip – all that was uncannily parallel to the script. However, since the location didn't have a suitable home to double as the Whitaker family compound, Coates and his design team built the exterior of one the properties. Coates says, "We couldn't find all three requirements in the same place in a certain zone around Atlanta, so we ended up building the farm house; we shaped it so we'd have the porch, have the enveloping ‘V' of the house so you feel cozy when you're out on the porch exposed." The porch faced the plane hangar and airstrip, which was done, Coates says, to "always keep the focus on the fact that airplanes had been an important and big portion part of the young Whip's life growing up."
In keeping with Zemeckis' desire for authenticity, hospital scenes were filmed in the former critical care wing of St. Joseph's Hospital, Atlanta's oldest and most distinguished hospital, located in Atlanta's Peachwood-Dunwoody neighborhood.
While there were real practical advantages to film in Atlanta – tax credits, locations that fit the story and/or production needs to tell that tale, Zemeckis points out that Atlanta also played itself, as opposed to doubling for any other city.
"The movie feels perfectly set in Atlanta. It's not like we had to go to there and make it look like New York. We set it there because it is one of those American cities that has an airline culture and it just felt like the perfect American city for this movie," Zemeckis says. It is also a municipality set squarely in the Bible Belt so the crash landing outside a Pentecostal Church appealed to Zemeckis' sense of irony. Ultimately, "Flight" combines several Zemeckis touchstones – advanced film technology, big, compelling characters on life changing journeys, themes of recovery and discovery – or, as he puts it: "My thinking is this: There's a wonderful quote by Francois Truffaut which I subscribe to … he said that a movie that works is the perfect blend of truth and spectacle. And whenever I can find a screenplay that has both of those aspects, those are movies that I gravitate to—and I think ‘Flight' is that kind of movie. I mean it's a hopeful, redemptive human story that's wrapped in this very dramatic and intense spectacle. And to me that's what movies are all about," Zemeckis says.
- DENZEL WASHINGTON
- DON CHEADLE
- KELLY REILLY
- JOHN GOODMAN
- BRUCE GREENWOOD
- MELISSA LEO
- BRIAN GERAGHTY
- TAMARA TUNIE
- NADINE VELAZQUEZ
- JAMES BADGE DALE
- GARCELLE BEAUVAIS
Two-time Academy Award®-winning actor DENZEL WASHINGTON (Whip Whitaker) is a man constantly on the move. Never comfortable repeating himself or his successes, Washington always searches for new challenges through his numerous and varied film and stage portrayals. From Trip, an embittered runaway slave in “Glory,” to South African freedom fighter Steven Biko in “Cry Freedom”; From Shakespeare's tragic historical figure “Richard III,” to the rogue detective, Alonzo, in “Training Day,” Washington has amazed and entertained us with a rich array of characters distinctly his own.
Washington will next be seen in the Universal thriller ”Safe House,” directed by Daniel Espinosa and co-starring Ryan Reynolds
Washington was most recently seen in “Unstoppable.” The action/thriller, which once again paired him with director Tony Scott, was released in Fall of 2010.
In Spring 2010, Washington made his return to Broadway where he appeared opposite Viola Davis in a 14-week run of August Wilson’s “Fences.” His powerful performance as Troy, a one-time baseball star turned sanitation worker who struggles to reconcile his past and present, earned him his first Tony award.
In January 2010 Warner Bros’ released “The Book of Eli,” a post-apocalyptic Western that tells the story of one man’s fight across America to protect a sacred book that contains the secrets to rescuing mankind.
In June 2009, Washington appeared alongside John Travolta in Tony Scott's remake of the 1974 film “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3,” for Columbia Pictures. “Pelham” tells the dramatic story of a subway dispatcher (Washington) who receives a ransom call from a hijacker (Travolta) who has taken control of one of the trains.
In late December 2007, Washington directed and co-starred with Academy Award®-winning actor Forest Whitaker in “The Great Debaters,” a drama based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College Texas who in 1935 inspired students from the school’s debate team to challenge Harvard in the national championship.
In November of 2007, Washington starred alongside Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott’s “American Gangster.” The film, which is based on the true juggernaut success story of a cult hero from the streets of 1970s Harlem during one of America’s biggest drug wars, grossed $43.6M in its first weekend and earned Denzel his largest opening weekend to date.
March 2006 saw Washington in Spike Lee’s “Inside Man.” Co-starring Clive Owen and Jodie Foster, this film about a perfect bank robbery proved successful its opening weekend, grossing $29M and marking Mr. Washington’s second biggest opening to date.
As 2006 came to an end, Washington thrilled audiences yet again in Touchstone Pictures, “Déjà Vu,” re-teaming with director Tony Scott. In this “flashback” romantic thriller, Washington plays an ATF agent that travels back in time to save a woman from being murdered, falling in love with her in the process.
In 2005, Washington returned to his theatre roots starring on Broadway as Marcus Brutus in “Julius Caesar.” The show was well-received by critics and fans alike.
In 2004, Washington collaborated with director Tony Scott on “Man on Fire.” In this film, Washington plays an ex-marine who has been hired to protect a young girl, played by Dakota Fanning, from kidnapping threats. That same year, Washington was also seen in “The Manchurian Candidate,” a modern day remake of the 1962 classic film for Paramount Pictures. In the film, directed by Jonathan Demme, Washington starred along side Meryl Streep and Live Schreiber, in the part that Frank Sinatra made famous. He played Ben Marco, a gulf war soldier who returns from combat and is unable to remember events as he has been brainwashed.
In 2003 Washington was seen in “Out Of Time,” directed by Carl Franklin. Washington played opposite Eva Mendez and Sanaa Lathan in the murder mystery thriller for MGM. He played a Florida police chief who must solve a double homicide before he falls under suspicion for the murders himself.
December 2002 marked Denzel Washington’s feature film directorial debut with “Antwone Fisher.” The film, which is based on a true-life story and inspired by the best-selling autobiography, Finding Fish, follows Fisher, a troubled young sailor played by newcomer Derek Luke, as he comes to terms with his past. The film won critical praise, and was awarded the “Stanley Kramer Award” from the Producers Guild of America, as well as winning an NAACP Award for “Outstanding Motion Picture” and “Outstanding Supporting Actor” for Washington. Also, in 2002, Washington was seen in “John Q,” a story about a down-on-his-luck father whose son is in need of a heart transplant. The film established an opening day record for President’s Day weekend, grossing $24.1 million. The film garnered Washington a NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture.”
Perhaps one of his most critically acclaimed performances to date was the Academy Award®-winning performance in “Training Day,” directed by Antoine Fuqua. The story revolves around a grizzled LAPD veteran, played by Washington, who shows a rookie narcotics cop, played by Ethan Hawke, the ropes on his first day of the soul-city beat. The film was only one of two in 2001 that spent two weeks at the number one spot at the box office.
In September of 2000, he starred in Jerry Bruckheimer’s box-office sensation ($115 million domestic gross) “Remember the Titans,” a fact-based film about the integration of a high school football team in Alexandria VA. in 1971. Earlier that year, he starred in Universal’s “The Hurricane,” retiming with director Norman Jewison. Washington received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and an Academy Award nomination (his fourth) for his portrayal of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the world middleweight champion boxer during the 1960s who was wrongfully imprisoned twice for the June 17, 1966, murder of three whites in a New Jersey bar.
In November of 1999, he starred in Universal’s “The bone Collector,” the adaptation of Jeffrey Deaver’s novel about the search for a serial killer, co-starring Angelina Jolie and directed by Phillip Noyce. He played the role of a quadriplegic police detective who is a forensics expert. In 1998, he starred in the Warner Bros. crime thriller “Fallen” for director Greg Hoblit, and in Spike Lee’s “He Got Game,” released by Touchstone (Disney). Also, he retimed with director Ed Zwick in the 20th Century-Fox terrorist thriller “The siege,” co-starring Annette Bening and Bruce Willis.
In the summer of 1996, he starred in the critically acclaimed military drama “Courage Under Fire,’ for his "Glory" director, Ed Zwick. Washington portrayed Lt. Colonel Nathaniel Serling, a tank commander in the Gulf War, who is charged with investigating conflicting reports surrounding the first female nominee for a Medal of Honor. Later that year, Washington starred opposite Whitney Houston in Penny Marshall's romantic comedy “The Preacher's Wife.” Washington played an angel who comes to the aid of Reverend Biggs (Courtney B. Vance) whose doubts about his ability to make a difference in his troubled community are also affecting his family.
In 1995, he starred opposite Gene Hackman as Navy Lieutenant Commander Ron Hunter in Tony Scott's underwater action adventure “Crimson Tide”; as ex-cop Parker Barnes in the futuristic thriller “Virtuosity,” who was released from prison to track down a computer-generated criminal; and as World War II veteran Easy Rawlins, in the 1940's romantic thriller “Devil in a Blue Dress” (which Washington's Mundy Lane Entertainment produced with Jonathan Demme's Clinica Estetico).
Another critically acclaimed performance was his portrayal of Malcolm X, the complex and controversial Black activist from the 1960's, in director Spike Lee's biographical epic, “Malcolm X.” Monumental in scope and filmed over a period of six months in the United States and Africa, “Malcolm X” was hailed by critics and audiences alike as one of the best films of 1992. For his portrayal, Denzel received a number of accolades including an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. In addition to his accomplishments on screen, Washington took on a very different type of role in 2000. He produced the HBO documentary “Half Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks,” which was subsequently nominated for two Emmy Awards. Also, he served as executive producer on "Hank Aaron: Chasing The Dream," a biographical documentary for TBS which was nominated for an Emmy Award. Additionally, Washington's narration of the legend of "John Henry" was nominated for a 1996 Grammy Award in the category of Best Spoken Word Album for Children and he was awarded the 1996 NAACP Image Award for his performance in the animated children's special "Happily Ever After: Rumpelstiltskin."
A native of Mt. Vernon, New York, Washington had his career sights set on medicine when he attended Fordham University. During a stint as a summer camp counselor he appeared in one of their theatre productions; Denzel was bitten by the acting bug and returned to Fordham that year seeking the tutelage of Robinson Stone, one of the school's leading professors. Upon graduation from Fordham, Washington was accepted into San Francisco's prestigious American Conservatory Theater. Following an intensive year of study in their theater program, he returned to New York after a brief stop in Los Angeles.
Washington's professional New York theater career began with Joseph Papp's Shakespeare in the Park and was quickly followed by numerous off-Broadway productions including "Ceremonies in Dark Old Men;" "When The Chickens Came Home to Roost (in which he portrayed Malcolm X);" "One Tiger to a Hill;" "Man and Superman;" "Othello;" "A Soldier's Play," for which he won an Obie Award. Washington's more recent stage appearances include the Broadway production of "Checkmates" and "Richard III," which was produced as part of the 1990 Free Shakespeare in the Park series hosted by Joseph Papp's Public Theatre in New York City.
Washington was 'discovered' by Hollywood when he was cast in 1979 in the television film “Flesh and Blood.” But it was Denzel's award-winning performance on stage in "A Soldier's Play" that captured the attention of the producers of the NBC television series, "St. Elsewhere," and he was soon cast in that long-running hit series as Dr. Phillip Chandler. His other television credits include "The George McKenna Story," "License to Kill," and "Wilma."
In 1982, Washington re-created his role from "A Soldier's Play" for Norman Jewison's film version. Re-titled "A Soldier's Story," Denzel's portrayal of Private Peterson was critically well-received. Washington went on to star in Sidney Lumet's “Power,” Richard Attenborough's “Cry Freedom” for which he received his first Oscar nomination, “For Queen and Country,” “The Mighty Quinn,” “Heart Condition,” “Glory,” for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and Spike Lee's “Mo' Better Blues.” Washington also starred in the action adventure film, “Ricochet,” and in Mira Nair's bittersweet comedy “Mississippi Masala.”
Additional film credits include Kenneth Branaugh's film adaptation of “Much Ado About Nothing,” Jonathan Demme's controversial “Philadelphia” with Tom Hanks and “The Pelican Brief,” based on the John Grisham novel.
Since being named the Best Supporting Actor by the Los Angeles Film Critics for his breakout performance opposite Denzel Washington in “Devil in a Blue Dress,” DON CHEADLE (Hugh Lang) has consistently turned in powerful performances on the stage and screen.
Cheadle most recently wrapped his new television show, “House of Lies,” which aired January 2012 for Showtime. His latest feature film “The Guard,” premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was released this past July by Sony Pictures Classics. Cheadle produced “The Guard” and stars in it opposite Brendan Gleeson. Don had previously last been seen in Marvel Studios’ “Iron Man 2,” as “James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes” opposite Robert Downey, Jr., and in “Brooklyn’s Finest,” an ensemble crime thriller directed by Antoine Fuqua and co-starring Richard Gere and Ethan Hawke. He will next star in a movie based on the life of jazz legend Miles Davis and will then star in “Iron Man 3.”
Cheadle’s current philanthropic work includes serving as a UN Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme. He co-authored with John Prendergast The Enough Moment and Not on Our Watch, which reveals the steps being taken by engaged citizens, famous and unknown, here and abroad, to combat genocide, rape, and child soldierdom in Africa. Cheadle also produced the documentary film “Darfur Now,” an examination of the genocide in Sudan's western region of Darfur.
In 2008, Cheadle starred opposite Guy Pearce in Overture Films’ “Traitor,” an international thriller which he also produced. Additional film credits include: “Talk to Me,” a film directed by Kasi Lemmons and co-starring Chiwetel Ejiofor,; the 2006 Oscar-winning Best Picture, “Crash,” which Cheadle also produced; “Hotel Rwanda,” for which his performance garnered Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Broadcast Film Critics Award and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for Best Actor; “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Ocean’s Twelve” and “Ocean’s Thirteen,” directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Brad Pitt and George Clooney; Mike Binder’s “Reign Over Me” with Adam Sandler; the Academy Award-winning film “Traffic” and the George Clooney/Jennifer Lopez-starrer “Out of Sight,” both also directed by Soderbergh; Paul Thomas Anderson’s critically acclaimed “Boogie Nights” with Julianne Moore and Mark Wahlberg; “Bulworth,” directed by and starring Warren Beatty; “Swordfish” co-starring John Travolta and Halle Berry; “Mission to Mars” with Tim Robbins and Gary Sinise; John Singleton’s “Rosewood,” for which Cheadle earned an NAACP Image Award nomination; “Family Man,” directed by Brett Ratner and starring Nicolas Cage; and the independent features “Manic” and “Things Behind the Sun.” Cheadle was recently honored by both the CineVegas Film Festival and the Los Angeles Film Festival and received ShoWest’s Male Star of the Year award.
Cheadle is also well-recognized for his television work. He received a Golden Globe Award for his remarkable portrayal of Sammy Davis Jr. in HBO’s “The Rat Pack,” a performance that was also nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Emmy. That same year, he received an Emmy nomination for his starring role in HBO’s adaptation of the critically-acclaimed, best selling novel “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest J. Gaines, in which Cheadle starred opposite Cicely Tyson and Mekhi Phifer. He also starred for HBO in “Rebound: The Legend of Earl ‘The Goat’ Manigault,” directed by Eriq La Salle.
Well known for his two-year stint in the role of ‘District Attorney John Littleton’ on David E. Kelley’s critically-acclaimed series “Picket Fences,” Cheadle’s other series credits include a guest starring role on “ER” (a performance that earned him yet another Emmy nomination) and a series regular role on “The Golden Palace.” He was also part of the stellar cast of the thrilling live CBS television broadcast of “Fail Safe” in which he starred opposite George Clooney, James Cromwell, Brain Dennehy, Richard Dreyfuss and Harvey Keitel.
An accomplished stage actor, Cheadle originated the role of “Booth” in Suzan-Lori Parks’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Top Dog Underdog” at New York’s Public Theatre under the direction of George C. Wolfe. His other stage credits include “Leon, Lena and Lenz” at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis; “The Grapes of Wrath” and “Liquid Skin” at the Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis; “Cymbeline” at The New York Shakespeare Festival; “‘Tis a Pity She’s a Whore” at Chicago’s Goodman Theater; and Athol Fugard’s South African play “Blood Knot” at The Complex Theater in Hollywood.
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Cheadle later relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska and Denver, Colorado before he finally settled in Los Angeles. He attended the prestigious California Institute of the Arts (“CAL ARTS”) in Valencia, California, where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. With the encouragement of his college friends, Cheadle auditioned for a variety of and television roles while attending school and landed a recurring role on the hit series “Fame.” This lead to feature film roles in “Colors,” directed by Dennis Hopper, and the John Irvin-directed “Hamburger Hill,” opposite Dylan McDermott.
A talented musician who plays saxophone, writes music and sings, Don Cheadle is also an accomplished director with the stage productions of “Cincinnati Man” at the Attic Theater, the critically-acclaimed “The Trip” at Friends and Artists Theater in Hollywood and “Three, True, One’ at The Electric Lodge in Venice, California on an already impressive resume.In addition to his many acting honors, Cheadle was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2004 for Best Spoken Word Album for his narration/dramatization of the Walter Mosley novel Fear Itself.
Cheadle resides in Los Angeles.
KELLY REILLY (Nicole Maggen) recently starred as Mary Morstan/MaryWatson in both “Sherlock Holmes” and its sequel, “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” opposite Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. She was previously honored for her performance in Stephen Frears' acclaimed 2005 feature "Mrs. Henderson Presents," winning both London Film Critics Circle and Empire Awards for Best Newcomer, and also receiving a British Independent Film Award nomination in the category of Best Supporting Actress. She received another British Independent Film Award nomination, for Best Actress, for her work in 2008's "Eden Lake." She also starred in the internationally successful French film "L'Auberge Espagnole" and its sequel, "Russian Dolls” (“Les Poupees Russes") for which she was nominated for a Cesar Award.
Reilly was most recently seen in the independent feature "Me and Orson Welles," and the thriller "Triage," which has screened at several 2009 international film festivals, including Toronto and Rome. Her additional film credits include "Last Orders," "The Libertine," "Pride & Prejudice," “Meant to Be,” “Ti present un amico,” “1320,” and “Edwin Boyd.”
On the stage, Reilly is the youngest ever actress to be twice-nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Actress when she was nominated in 2004 for her performance in "After Miss Julie," presented at London's Donmar Warehouse Theatre, and in 2008 when she received another Olivier Award nomination in the same category for the role of Desdemona in the Donmar Warehouse production of "Othello."
Reilly has also appeared on the small screen, recently including the starring role of Detective Anna Travis in the 2009 television movie "Above Suspicion." She reprised her role in the ITV series "Above Suspicion 2: The Red Dahlia," and “Above Suspicion: Deadly Intent.”
JOHN GOODMAN (Harling Mays) remembers the day in 1975 when he left his native St. Louis for New York, armed only with a degree in fine arts from Southwest Missouri State University, $1,000 his brother had lent him and a dream of becoming a professional actor. He didn't want to look back later and say, “I wonder if I could have…” He made the rounds, worked at odd jobs and just tried to keep busy. He’s been busy ever since.
Goodman is starring in the fourth season of DirecTV’s “Damages,” playing the CEO of a mysterious military contractor who is put on trial in a wrongful-death suit. In addition, Goodman has joined NBC’s “Community” as the new vice dean of Greendale's well-known air -conditioning program.
Goodman’s recent film projects include the Weinstein Co’s black-and-white French silent feature “The Artist,” Warner Bros’ drama “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” and Warner Bros’ political thriller “Argo.”
Goodman’s latest film project, HBO’s biopic of Jack Kevorkian, “You Don’t Know Jack,” reunited him with Al Pacino (“Sea of Love”) and Susan Sarandon (“Speed Racer”), for which he received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie, and a SAG nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries. His recent TV credits include the HBO drama “Treme.”
Goodman has garnered many accolades, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and seven Emmy nominations for his role in “Roseanne.” He also earned Emmy nominations for his starring roles in TNT’s “Kingfish: A Story of Huey P. Long,” CBS’s production of Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” and the Coen Brothers film “Barton Fink.” In 2007, Goodman won his second Emmy, for Outstanding Guest Actor, on “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.”
Previous film credits include “In The Electric Mist,” “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” “Speed Racer,” “Bee Movie,” “Pope Joan,” “Alabama Moon,” “Gigantic,” “Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School,” “Beyond the Sea,” “Masked and Anonymous,” “Storytelling,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” “Coyote Ugly,” “What Planet Are You From?,” “One Night at McCool's,” “Bringing Out the Dead,” “Fallen,” “The Borrowers,” “Blues Brothers 2000,” “The Runner,” “The Flintstones,” “Mother Night,” “Arachnophobia,” “Always,” “Pie in the Sky,” “Born Yesterday,” “Matinee,” “The Babe,” “King Ralph,” “Punchline,” “Everybody's All-American,” “Sea of Love,” “Stella,” “Eddie Macon's Run,” “C.H.U.D.,” “Revenge of the Nerds,” “Maria's Lovers,” “Sweet Dreams,” “True Stories,” “The Big Easy,” “Burglar” “The Wrong Guys,” “Raising Arizona” and “The Big Lebowski.”
He has lent his voice to numerous animated films, including “Monsters, Inc.,” “The Emperor’s New Groove,” “Tales of the Rat Fink” and “The Jungle Book II.” He also voiced a main character in NBC’s animated series “Father of the Pride.”
Goodman went to Southwest Missouri State intending to play football, but an injury forced him to switch his major to drama. He never returned to football and graduated with a degree in Theatre.
Goodman starred on Broadway in “Waiting for Godot,” for which he received rave reviews as Pozzo. Goodman’s other stage credits include many dinner theatre and children's theatre productions, as well as several off-Broadway plays. His regional theatre credits include “Henry IV, Parts I and II,” “Antony and Cleopatra,” “As You Like It” and “A Christmas Carol.” He performed in a road production of “The Robber Bridegroom” and starred in two Broadway shows, “Loose Ends” in 1979 and “Big River” in 1985. In 2001, he starred in the NY Shakespeare Festival Central Park staging of “The Seagull” directed by Mike Nichols. The following year Goodman appeared on Broadway in the Public Theatre’s “Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui”.
Goodman and his family have homes in Los Angeles and New Orleans.
BRUCE GREENWOOD (Charlie Anderson) just wrapped production on the ABC Horror/Drama series “The River” where he stars as wildlife explorer and TV personality Emmet Cole who goes looking for magic in the uncharted Amazon and disappears while his family and friends set out on a mysterious and deadly journey to find him. Oren Peli, creator of “Paranormal Activity” and Steven Spielberg are Executive Producers.
In 2012 Greenwood will reprise his role as Captain Christopher Pike in the next Star Trek film for director J. J. Abrams and Paramount Pictures.
In summer 2011 he starred opposite Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper in “The Place Beyond the Pines” about a motorcycle stunt rider who considers committing a crime in order to provide for his family, an act that puts him on a collision course with a cop-turned-politician. Greenwood plays Bill Killcullen, an Assistant District Attorney. The film is written and directed by Derek Cianfrance.He will next be seen in the supernatural mystery drama “Donovan’s Echo” opposite Danny Glover. The film focuses on a series of uncanny déjà vu events that force a man to re-examine his tragic past, memory, instinct and future. The film premiered Fall 2011 at the Edmonton International Film Festival and will have a Spring 2012 release. Previously he starred as the title character Stephen Meek in the critically acclaimed western “Meek’s Cutoff” opposite Michelle Williams for director Kelly Reichardt. The Jon Raymond screenplay was inspired by historical accounts of Stephen Meek and the Tetherow Wagon Train of 1845 and chronicles an exhausted group of travelers hoping to strike it rich out west.
In 2010 he starred opposite Steve Carell and Paul Rudd in the comedy “Dinner for Schmucks” for director Jay Roach as well as the drama “Barney’s Version,” based on the novel by Mordecai Richler opposite Paul Giamatti.
Earlier he starred in “Mao’s Last Dancer” for director Bruce Beresford. The film is based on the best selling memoir of dancer Li Cunxin. The film premiered as a Special Presentation at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival.
In 2009 he starred in the Paramount Pictures blockbuster “Star Trek” as Captain Christopher Pike opposite, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Eric Bana for director J.J. Abrams.
His other credits include the Walt Disney action thriller “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” as the President of the United States opposite Nicolas Cage. In 2007, his dual role in the unconventional biopic of legendary singer/songwriter Bob Dylan “I’m Not There” opposite Cate Blanchett and Richard Gere for writer/director Todd Haynes earned the Independent Spirit Awards inaugural Robert Altman Award.
He is well known for his outstanding portrayal of President John F. Kennedy negotiating the Cuban Missile Crisis and its fallout in the riveting drama “Thirteen Days,” opposite Kevin Costner and Steven Culp. The film earned Greenwood a Golden Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor.
In 2006 he appeared in the thriller “Déjà Vu” for director Tony Scott alongside Denzel Washington and Val Kilmer. In 2005 he starred opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote’s partner, writer Jack Dunphy, in “Capote.” That performance earned him a Screen Actors Guild Nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
In 2004 he appeared opposite Will Smith in the sci-fi box office hit “I, Robot” in which he played a ruthless CEO of U.S. Robotics who was suspected of murder. That same year he played the dashing paramour of an aging actress (Annette Bening) in the critically- praised “Being Julia.” That role earned him a Genie Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
In 1999 he starred opposite Ashley Judd as a murderous plotting spouse in the suspense thriller “Double Jeopardy,” which earned him a Blockbuster Entertainment Award nomination for Favorite Supporting Actor.
He has worked three times with acclaimed Canadian director Atom Egoyan. He had a lead role in “Exotica” as a tax inspector obsessed with a stripper. The film was nominated for the Palme D’Or at Cannes and named Best Canadian Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival. He also starred in the drama “The Sweet Hereafter” playing a father of two children killed in a tragic bus accident. The film earned the Jury Grand Prize at Cannes and swept the Genie Awards including Best Motion Picture and also earned him a Genie Award nomination for Best Actor. Additionally he starred in the drama “Ararat.”
Greenwood’s other film credits include “Firehouse Dog,” “Hollywood Homicide,” “The World’s Fastest Indian,” “Eight Below,” “Rules of Engagement,” “Racing Stripes,” “Here on Earth,” “The Lost Son,” “Thick as Thieves,” “Disturbing Behavior,” “Passenger 57” and “Wild Orchid.”
Greenwood also enjoys a diverse and successful career in television. In 2009 he performed in the Hallmark Hall of Fame holiday movie “A Dog Named Christmas,” based on the Greg Kincaid novel. In 2007 he starred in the David Milch HBO series “John from Cincinnati.”
Earlier in his career he was a regular as Dr. Seth Griffith on the award-winning series “St. Elsewhere.” He also appeared on the critically-acclaimed “Larry Sanders Show.” He also starred in the remake of the “Magnificent Ambersons,” as well as several movies-of- the week presentations, including “The Riverman,” for A&E and “Saving Millie” for CBS.
Bruce and his wife Susan divide their time between their homes in Los Angeles and Vancouver.
MELISSA LEO (Ellen Block) received an Academy Award, Golden Globe and SAG Award for her tour de force performance in “The Fighter.” She also received Oscar and SAG nominations for her starring role in “Frozen River” for which she won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead and a Spotlight Award from the National Board of Review among countless other accolades.
Leo shared a Best Ensemble acting award from the Phoenix Film Critics Society for her outstanding work in “21 Grams” opposite Benicio del Toro and Sean Penn and an Emmy nomination for the HBO miniseries “Mildred Pierce” directed by Todd Haynes in which she starred opposite Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce.
Recent work includes “Red State” written and directed by Kevin Smith, “Seven Days in Utopia” opposite Robert Duvall, “Conviction” opposite Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell and “Welcome to the Rileys” opposite James Gandolfini and Kristen Stewart.
Other notable film work includes “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” in which she starred opposite Dwight Yoakam and Tommy Lee Jones, and “Hide and Seek” in which she starred opposite Robert DeNiro.
Leo’s television credits include the current HBO series “Treme” from executive producer David Simon, and she is known for her groundbreaking portrayal of Detective Kay Howard on “Homicide: Life on the Streets."
Leo studied Drama at Mount View Theatre School in London, England and later at the SUNY Purchase Acting Program.
BRIAN GERAGHTY (Ken Evans) will next be seen in “Ten Year,” written and directed by Jamie Linden, about a group of friends who reunite ten years after their high school graduation, which premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. The ensemble cast includes Channing Tatum, Rosario Dawson, Justin Long and Kate Mara, among others. Geraghty wrapped production on “Refuge” from writer/director Jessica Goldberg and co-starring Krysten Ritter, as well as the Lionsgate comedy “Gay Dude,” directed by Chris Nelson.
Geraghty’s additional film credits include the following: Kathryn Bigelow’s Academy Award-winning thriller “The Hurt Locker” with Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie; “Easier With Practice,” the directorial debut of Kyle Patrick Alvarez, for which Geraghty earned rave reviews; the short film “Bastard,” directed by Kirsten Dunst; Emilio Estevez’s “Bobby,” for which the New York Times hand-picked his performance as one of the “Scene Stealers: Breakthrough Performances” of 2006; “We Are Marshall,” directed by McG and starring Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox; “Open House” with Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer (Tribeca Film Festival 2010); “The Guardian,” directed by Andrew Davis and starring Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher; “Jarhead,” directed by Sam Mendes and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx and Peter Sarsgaard; Terry Zwigoff’s “Art School Confidential” with John Malkovich and Max Minghella; “An American Crime” with Ellen Page and Catherine Keener; “When a Stranger Calls” with Camilla Belle; “Love Lies Bleeding” with Christian Slater and Jenna Dewan; “Conversations with Other Women” with Aaron Eckhart and Helena Bonham Carter; “The Optimist” with Leelee Sobieski; “Stateside” with Val Kilmer and Jonathan Tucker; and “Cruel World” with Edward Furlong.
Geraghty recently guest starred on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and, prior to launching into a film career, had guest starring roles on several top television series, including “The Sopranos,” “Law & Order” and “Ed.”
Originally from New Jersey, Geraghty graduated from The Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre in New York City. His stage credits include roles in productions of “Berlin,” “Midnight Moonlight,” “Snipers” and “Romeo and Juliet.” He began his professional career in New York before re-locating to Los Angeles. Geraghty recently returned to the stage in January when he appeared opposite Martin Sheen and Frances Conroy in Frank Gilroy’s “The Subest Was Roses” about a young man’s return from World War II. Geraghty starred as the young man, the role for which Sheen earned a Tony Award in 1964.
An ardent surfer, he has been a surf instructor and is an ongoing, active supporter of the Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit environmental organization working to preserve our oceans, waves and beaches. He is also involved with TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors), a resource for anyone who has suffered the loss of a military loved one, regardless of relationship to the deceased. They meet their mission by providing peer-based support, crisis care, casualty casework assistance and grief and trauma resources.
Geraghty currently resides in Los Angeles.
TAMARA TUNIE (Margaret Thomason) is in her 12th season as Medical Examiner Dr. Melinda Warner in Wolf Films/Universal Media Studio's top-rated series "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."
Tunie has had other memorable roles on television, most notably as the longstanding character Jessica Griffin on the CBS Daytime Drama "As The World Turns," for which she received two NAACP Image Award nominations and two Soap Opera Digest award nominations. She also appeared in the highly visible role of Alberta Green in first season of the hit series "24" (when she worked on three series simultaneously), as well as guest appearances on "Law and Order," "Sex and the City," and "NYPD Blue." Next November, Tunie will also guest star in a multi-episode arc of NBC's "Days of Our Lives."
Last year, Tunie went behind the camera, producing and directing her first feature film entitled "See You In September," starring Justin Kirk and Estella Warren. Shooting on the streets of New York City, the film surrounds a woman who forms a support group for abandoned patients when all their therapists go on vacation in August and finds true love.
Tunie was recently seen onstage at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival in Tracy Thorne's new play “We Are Here.” She starred in "All's Well That Ends Well" at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, playing three roles and produced the musical "Frog Kiss," part of the New York Musical Theater Festival, simultaneously. She also starred on Broadway with Denzel Washington in Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," the play's first Broadway staging in over 50 years, and received rave reviews for her turn in the lead role of Madame de Merteuil in "Les Liaisons Dangereuse" at the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey. She starred in "Fences" in "August Wilson's 20th Century Cycle" at the Kennedy Center, in Washington, D.C. In 2006—2007, Tunie became a Broadway producer on the team responsible for the Tony Award-winning musical "Spring Awakening." She also produced August Wilson's Tony Award nominated "Radio Golf." She has shared the Broadway stage with Lena Horne in the Broadway musical "Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music," and starred in David Merrick's revival of "Oh Kay!" with Brian Stokes Mitchell. Ms. Tunie toured Europe with "Bubblin' Brown Sugar," and portrayed Helen of Troy in the New York Shakespeare Festival's production of "Troilus and Cressida" in Central Park. In addition, Tunie played Maggie in the first all African American production of Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" at Theatre Virginia in Richmond. After September 11th, she co-starred with many veterans of Broadway, including Audra Mc Donald and Lillias White, in the 20th anniversary benefit concert of "Dreamgirls."
In film, Tunie has worked with some of the most respected directors of the screen, including Taylor Hackford, Brian De Palma, Mimi Leder, Harold Becker and Oliver Stone. She had the unique opportunity to work with the legendary Al Pacino; she portrayed the possessed wife of a partner in his law firm in the hit film "The Devil's Advocate," and his press secretary in "City Hall." She also worked with famed director Kasi Lemmons and Samuel L. Jackson on both "Eve's Bayou" and "The Caveman's Valentine."
Tunie is Chair Emerita of the Board of Directors of Figure Skating in Harlem, a non-profit organization that supports academic excellence and teaches life skills to young girls in the Harlem community through the art and discipline of figure skating. She is Chair of the Board of Harlem Stage/The Gatehouse, and serves on the Board of Directors of God's Love We Deliver. She also serves on the Advisory Board of Hearts of Gold and Landing Strip Films. In 2005, Mayor Bloomberg awarded Tunie the "Made in New York Award" from the City of New York for her support and commitment to Film, Television and Theater in Manhattan.
NADINE VELAZQUEZ (Katerina Marquez) recently played "Analisa" in the dramatic thriller “Snitch” directed by Ric Roman Waugh, in which she she stars alongside Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon and Barry Pepper.
On television, Nadine recurs on the FX Network comedy “The League” and the CW drama “Hart of Dixie.” She spent four years as a series regular on the multi-award winning NBC comedy “My Name is Earl,” playing “Catalina,” the sweet and sexy hotel maid/stripper, where the cast garnered a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.
Originally from Chicago, Nadine graduated from Columbia College with a B.A. in marketing. She began performing in commercials as well as theatre, most notably playing “Ines Serrano” in “No Exit.”
Once in Hollywood, she honed her skills with guest starring roles on “Entourage,” “Las Vegas” and the “Prison Break” pilot directed by Brett Ratner.
Other credits include guest starring roles on “Charlie’s Angels,” “Scrubs,” “CSI: NY,” the CBS sitcom “Gary Unmarried” directed by James Burroughs, and “CSI: Miami.”
Nadine lives in Los Angeles and has studied at the Groundlings.
James Badge Dale (Gaunt Young Man), one of Hollywood's most respected young actors, is gearing up for an impressive 2013 as his work will be seen in three major pictures adding three completely different characters to his already complex list of roles played.
In Shane Black's "IRONMAN 3" which he recently completed starring opposite Robert Downey, Sir Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle and Jon Favreau he plays the unique villian 'Eric Savin'. In Marc Forster's "WORLD WAR Z" based on the highly successful novel by Max Brooks, Dale appears opposite Brad Pitt, as the character 'Speke', a soldier struggling with his humanity during the zombie apocalypse. Lastly, in Bruckheimer/Disneys' "THE LONE RANGER" directed by Gore Verbinski, Dale will star opposite Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer as 'Dan Reid', the grizzled and morally flawed head of the Texas Rangers and brother to Armie's title character.
Dale can currently be seen in Paramount's "FLIGHT" directed by Robert Zemeckis starring Denzel Washington in a role for which he was asked to transform himself, losing 20 lbs in six weeks in order play the memorable character 'The gaunt young man'. Within the past year, Dale starred alongside Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan" in "SHAME", the much buzzed about controversial and sexually charged drama directed by Steve McQueen. He followed with Joe Carnahan's "THE GREY", starring Liam Neeson, a film centering on the survival of eight men in the wilds of Alaska hunted by a pack of wolves.
His other notable film credits include; Robert Redford's historical drama "THE CONSPIRATOR" starring Robin Wright and James McAvoy and Martin Scorcese's Academy Award-winning film "THE DEPARTED."
In television Dale starred in AMC's critically acclaimed series "RUBICON." constructed in the vein of the political thrillers "Parallax View" and "Three Days of The Condor. His most recognized role in television was his lead performance as 'Robert Leckie' in the Emmy and Peabody awarded HBO's epic miniseries "THE PACIFIC." The 10-hour event intertwined stories of three U.S. Marines in the Pacific battles against Japan during World War II. Executive produced by Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman. Dale is also remembered as 'Chase Edmunds', Kiefer Sutherland's younger partner in the hit television series "24".
Dale is the son of late Broadway, film and television star Anita Morris and two-time Tony Award-winning Director/Choreographer, Grover Dale. He followed his parents onto the stage making his Off Broadway debut in 2003 with The Flea Theatre Company. Since then, he has returned to the New York stage to work with The New Group and New World Stages.
A Haitian-born actress, who immigrated to the United States at the age of seven with her sisters and mother, GARCELLE BEAUVAIS (Deana) has entertained both television and film audiences alike with her dramatic and comedic abilities. In June 2011, Garcelle debuted in her co-starring role alongside Breckin Meyer and Mark-Paul Gosselaar as ‘Hanna Linden’ in the hit TNT legal drama “Franklin & Bash.” Garcelle also recently finished work on the documentary, “Eyes to See,” which focuses on the Haiti earthquake, and is inspired by the writer/director's personal involvement with Haitian relief efforts right after the tragedy.Garcelle began modeling at the age of seventeen and easily transitioned to acting in the Aaron Spelling series “Models, Inc.” After that, she co-starred opposite Jamie Foxx for five years on the popular WB sitcom “The Jamie Foxx Show.”
For four seasons she also starred on the highly rated Emmy© Award-winning series “NYPD Blue.” Other television credits include “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and a starring role opposite Tim Daly in the ABC television show; “Eyes”. She has also made guest appearances on several popular television shows including “Human Target,” “Crash,” “The Bernie Mac Show,” and “The Bonnie Hunt Show.”
Garcelle’s feature film credits include the Film Independent Award-nominated “American Gun,” with Forrest Whitaker, Marcia Gay Harden and Donald Sutherland, “Women in Trouble” with Simon Baker and Josh Brolin, “Barbershop 2: Back in Business,” with Queen Latifah and “Bad Company,” opposite Chris Rock and Anthony Hopkins.
Besides her numerous acting endeavors, Garcelle has made a name for herself both as an entrepreneur and a philanthropist. In 2008, in partnership with jewelry designer Mallory Eisenstein, Garcelle debuted the ‘Petit Bijou by Garcelle’ jewelry line, an exclusive collection for kids and teenagers. She is also involved with such charities as March of Dimes, Step Up Women’s Network, and Paul Haggis’ Haiti relief foundation, Artists for Peace and Justice.
Her most important role to date however is being a mother to her three sons, Oliver, and twins Jax and Jaid. Garcelle currently resides in Los Angeles.
ROBERT ZEMECKIS (Director) won an Academy Award®, a Golden Globe and a Director’s Guild of American Award for Best Director for the hugely successful “Forrest Gump.” The film’s numerous honors also included Oscars for Best Actor (Tom Hanks) and Best Picture. The Library of Congress recently selected the film to join the esteemed National Film Registry. Zemeckis re-teamed with Hanks on the contemporary drama “Cast Away,” the filming of which was split into two sections, book-ending production on What Lies Beneath. Zemeckis and Hanks served as producers on “Cast Away,” along with Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke.
Earlier in his career, Zemeckis co-wrote (with Bob Gale) and directed “Back to the Future,” which was the top-grossing release of 1985, and for which Zemeckis shared Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Original Screen play. He then went on to helm “Back to the Future, Part II and Part III,” completing one of the most successful film franchises ever.
In addition, he directed and produced “Contact,” starring Jodie Foster, based on the best-selling novel by Carl Sagan; and the macabre comedy hit “Death Becomes Her,” starring Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis. He also wrote and directed the box office smash “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?,” cleverly blending live action and animation; directed the romantic adventure hit “Romancing the Stone,” pairing Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner; and co-wrote (with Bob Gale) and directed the comedies “Used Cars” and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”
Zemeckis also produced “House on Haunted Hill,” and executive produced such films as “The Frighteners,” “The Public Eye,” and “Trespass,” which he also co-wrote with Bob Gale. He and Gale previously wrote “1941,” which began Zemeckis’ association with Steven Spielberg.
For the small screen, Zemeckis has directed several projects, including the Showtime feature-length documentary “The Pursuit of Happiness,” which explored the effect of drugs and alcohol on 20th century society. His additional television credits include episodes of Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories” and HBO’s “Tales From the Crypt.”
In 1998, Zemeckis, Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke partnered to form the film and television production company ImageMovers. “What Lies Beneath” was the first film to be released under the ImageMovers banner, followed by “Cast Away,” which opened to critical and audience acclaim in the Fall of 2000, and “Matchstick Men.”
In March 2001, the USC School of Cinema-Television celebrated the opening of the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts. This state-of-the-art center is the country’s first and only fully digital training center and houses the latest in non-linear production and post-production equipment as well as stages, a 50-seat screening room and USC student-run television station, Trojan Vision.
In 2004, Zemeckis produced and directed the motion capture film “The Polar Express,” starring Tom Hanks. Most recently, he brought the true life story of “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio” starring Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson to the big screen. In addition, he served as executive producer on both “Monster House,” and the Queen Latifah comedy “Last Holiday.”
Zemeckis produced and directed his second motion capture film, “Beowulf,” which was also be produced by Rapke and Starkey. The feature, which stars Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie and Ray Winstone is based on one of the oldest surviving pieces of Anglo-Saxon literature, written sometime before the 10th Century A.D.
In November of 2009, Zemeckis released his most advanced motion-capture film to date: “A Christmas Carol,” based on the celebrated and beloved classic story by Charles Dickens. Rapke and Starkey also produced the film, which was released by The Disney Studios in November 2009.
Presently, Zemickis is at work on “Yellow Submarine,” for Image Movers Digital and The Disney Studios.
WALTER F. PARKES & LAURIE MacDONALD
The husband and wife team of WALTER F. PARKES (Producer) and LAURIE MacDONALD (Producer) hold the unique distinction of having helped to create Dreamworks, the first new studio in 5 decades, as well as being two of the most active producers working today.
Films produced or executive-produced by Parkes & MacDonald include Gladiator, Amistad, Men In Black I & II, Minority Report, The Mask of Zorro, Catch Me If You Can, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Terminal, Road to Perdition, Dinner for Schmucks and The Ring. In 2007, they created their own company and produced the screen adaptations of the acclaimed novel The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, and of Stephen Sondheim’s musical thriller, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, starring Johnny Depp and directed by Tim Burton. In total, films produced or executive-produced by Parkes and MacDonald have earned in excess of $6 billion in worldwide box office.
As studio heads, Parkes and MacDonald were responsible for development and production of the company’s diverse slate of films, which achieved both box office success and critical acclaim, including—for only the second time in the history of the Motion Picture Academy—three consecutive Best Picture Oscar® winners: American Beauty, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind, the latter two produced in partnership with Universal Pictures. Other critical and commercial successes produced during their tenure include: Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous, Robert Zemeckis’ What Lies Beneath, Adam McKay’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Michael Mann’s Collateral, and Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award®- and Golden Globe®-winning drama Saving Private Ryan, which was the domestically top-grossing film of 1998.
In 2009, Parkes and MacDonald teamed with the Abu Dhabi Media Company to form “Parkes+MacDonald Imagenation,” a partnership that will fund future screenplay development for the duo’s projects at DreamWorks and other studios, and provide production co-financing on selected films.
Parkes himself is a three-time Academy Award® nominee, earning his first nomination as the director/producer of the 1978 documentary California Reich, which exposed neo-Nazi activities in California. He garnered his second Oscar® nomination for writing (with Lawrence Lasker, Yale ‘72) the original screenplay for WarGames, and his third nod for his work as a producer on the Best Picture nominee “Awakenings.” Parkes and Lasker also wrote and produced the thriller “Sneakers,” starring Robert Redford and Sidney Poitier.
MacDonald began her producing career as a documentary and news producer at KRON, the NBC affiliate in San Francisco. She later joined Columbia Pictures, where she served as a Vice President of Production. After four years, she started a production company with Walter Parkes. Immediately prior to joining DreamWorks, MacDonald oversaw development and production at Amblin Entertainment.
This year they complete post production and released Men In Black 3, starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin which has grossed over $600 million worldwide to date.
STEVE STARKEY (Producer) earned an Academy Award® as one of the producers of Best Picture-winner “Forrest Gump.” The film, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks, became one of the highest grossing movies of all time and collected six Oscars®, including Best Director and Best Actor, as well as a Golden Globe Award®, the National Board of Review’s highest honor in 1994, two People’s Choice Awards, the Producers Guild Golden Laurel Award and Best Picture BAFTA nomination.
Starkey also pioneered performance capture technology in the Zemeckis-directed films, “A Christmas Carol,” “The Polar Express” and “Beowulf” and the Gil Kenan directed film “Monster House,” all of which were produced by Starkey with his ImageMovers partners.
Starkey’s ImageMover’s credits include the Zemeckis-directed epic drama “Cast Away,” which re-teamed them with Tom Hanks, and the psychological thriller “What Lies Beneath” with Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer, also directed by Zemeckis. Starkey produced “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio,” directed by Jane Anderson and starring Julianne Moore. He also produced “Matchstick Men,” directed by Ridley Scott and starring Nicolas Cage.
Starkey’s professional association with Zemeckis began in 1986 when he was associate producer on the innovative feature “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and went on to serve as associate producer on the second and third installments of the “Back to the Future” trilogy. Their collaboration continued as Starkey and Zemeckis produced the black comedy “Death Becomes Her,” followed by “Forrest Gump” and “Contact.” Starkey also co-produced the feature comedy farce “Noises Off” and produced the Showtime feature-length documentary “The Pursuit of Happiness,” which explores drug and alcohol addiction and was directed and executive produced by Robert Zemeckis.
Early in his career, Starkey worked with George Lucas at Lucasfilm, Ltd., where he became an assistant film editor on “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.” He later edited documentary films for Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, was associate producer of Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories” television anthology series and executive producer on the 1993 CBS series “Johnny Bago.”
Upon his graduation from New York University Film School in 1975, JACK RAPKE (Producer) moved to Los Angeles to embark on a career in the entertainment industry. His first stop was the mailroom of the William Morris Agency. Four years later, Rapke joined Creative Artists Agency (CAA), where he rose, over the course of the next seventeen years, to become one of the most successful agents in Hollywood.
During a seven-year tenure as co-chairman of CAA’s motion picture department, Rapke cultivated a high profile client list that included Jerry Bruckheimer, Ridley Scott, Michael Mann, Harold Ramis, Michael Bay, Terry Gilliam, Bob Gale, Bo Goldman, Steve Kloves, Howard Franklin, Scott Frank, Robert Kamen, John Hughes, Joel Schumacher, Marty Brest, Chris Columbus, Ezra Sacks, and Imagine Entertainment partners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. Instrumental in building production companies around his clients, it was only a matter of time before he decided to build one of his own with client Robert Zemeckis.
In 1998, Rapke departed CAA to form ImageMovers with Zemeckis and producing partner Steve Starkey. Primarily focused on theatrical motion pictures, the company’s first feature was the critically acclaimed “Cast Away,” directed by Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks. Rapke and partners went on to produce numerous hits including Zemeckis’ thriller “What Lies Beneath” starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer, the Ridley Scott-directed “Matchstick Men” starring Nicolas Cage, “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio” starring Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson, “Last Holiday” starring Queen Latifah, and “Real Steel,” starring Hugh Jackman and directed by Shawn Levy.
Zemeckis’ pioneering use of “performance capture” technology in 2004’s “The Polar Express” blazed a new trail for modern 3D filmmaking. Rapke and partners produced four more films employing this revolutionary new technique: 2006’s Oscar-nominated “Monster House,” 2007’s “Beowulf,” directed by Zemeckis and starring Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie, Ray Winstone, and Robin Wright Penn, and 2009’s “A Christmas Carol,” for Walt Disney Studios, also directed by Zemeckis and starring Jim Carrey.
Rapke also served as executive producer of the Showtime drama series, “The Borgias,” starring Jeremy Irons, which aired in Spring 2011.
CHERYLANNE MARTIN (Executive Producer) has been responsible for the management and production of some of the most memorable feature films and television productions in recent history. From the HBO award winning miniseries “The Pacific” to the Academy Award winner “Forrest Gump,” Ms. Martin has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry.
A Marketing Communications major from Florida State University, Ms. Martin’s career in entertainment began as a college intern in San Francisco, which segued with her working on Francis Ford Coppola’s “One From the Heart.” She went on to become a member of the Directors Guild of America where she was a Second Assistant Director on such acclaimed films as “Far and Away,” directed by Ron Howard, “The American President,” directed by Rob Reiner and “Mrs. Doubtfire,” directed by Christopher Columbus. Soon after her work as a Second Assistant director she moved up to become a Unit Production Manager/Co‐producer on such notable feature films as “Road to Perdition,” “Cast Away,” “What Lies Beneath,” “Contact” and “Constantine.”
Ms. Martin is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences where she won the 2010 Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television for “The Pacific.” As a member of the Producers Guild of America, she also won the 2010 PGA Award for Outstanding Producer of Long Form Television for “The Pacific.” In addition, she received two DGA Awards for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures for “Forrest Gump” and “Rain Man.”
JOHN GATINS (Screenwriter) is a native New Yorker, where his father was a New York City police officer. The family relocated to the Hudson Valley, near Poughkeepsie, where Gatins grew up and later attended Vassar College, graduating in 1990 as a Drama major.
Gatins then moved to Los Angeles, where he wrote the screenplay for “Summer Catch,” which was directed by Michael Tollin. Gatins’ second script, “Hard Ball,” was also directed by Tollin, and starred Keanu Reeves and Diane Lane. He created and executive produced the Tollin/Robbins Warner Brothers pilot “Learning Curve” and co-wrote the basketball drama “Coach Carter,” starring Samuel L. Jackson. Gatins made his directorial debut with his own screenplay, “Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story,” starring Dakota Fanning and Kurt Russell.
John’s most recent screenplay, “Real Steel,” directed by Shawn Levy, was released in the summer of 2011 and starred Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly and Anthony Mackie. As an actor in “Real Steel,” Gatins plays a character named "Kingpin." Gatins also served as executive producer on Brian Robbins’ comedy “Ready To Rumble.”
DON BURGESS, ASC
Director of Photography
DON BURGESS, ASC (Director of Photography) has enjoyed a long association with Robert Zemeckis, having also lensed the directors’ films “The Polar Express,” “Cast Away,” “What Lies Beneath” and “Contact.” Burgess was previously honored with an Academy Award® nomination for his cinematography on Zemeckis’ Oscar-winning hit “Forrest Gump.” Burgess also received BAFTA and American Society of Cinematographer Award nominations for his work on that film. He earlier won a CableACE Award for his work on a Zemeckis-directed episode of “Tales from the Crypt.”
Burgess was most recently the cinematographer on the family-comedy “The Muppets” directed by James Bobin, as well as the hit sci-fi thriller “Source Code,” directed by Duncan Jones and starring Jake Gyllenhaal. He lensed the post-apocalyptic thriller “Priest,” directed by Scott Stewart, and Albert and Allen Hughes’ post-apocalyptic drama, “The Book of Eli,” starring Denzel Washington.
Burgess’ diverse feature film credits also include the smash hit comedy fable “Enchanted,” the blockbuster action hits “Spider-Man” and “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” the adventure film “Eight Below,” and the comedies “Fool’s Gold,” “My Super Ex-Girlfriend,” “13 Going on 30,” “Christmas with the Kranks” and “Forget Paris.”
NELSON COATES (Production Designer) recently designed “My Mother’s Curse,” starring Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand, and “Big Miracle,” the first full-length studio feature to film entirely in Alaska and his second feature collaboration with director Anne Fletcher, having previously designed her hit movie “The Proposal,” set in Sitka, Alaska, and New York City, but actually filmed in Massachusetts.
Nelson designed “The Last Song,” Miley Cyrus’ feature film debut, as well as her music video, “When I Look at You.” He had to create New York City for “Thick as Thieves,” a heist film with Morgan Freeman and Antonio Banderas filmed in Sofia, Bulgaria, with Mimi Leder at the helm. Nelson worked in Chicago designing the period drama, “The Express,” with Dennis Quaid. “The Express” marked Coates’ sixth feature collaboration with director Gary Fleder. Their previous collaborations include “Runaway Jury,” “Don’t Say A Word,” “Kiss the Girls,” “Impostor,” and Fleder’s feature directing debut, “Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead.” Prior to their work on “The Express,” they created the pilot and first six episodes of “October Road,” a one-hour drama for ABC Television. Coates also designed Fleder’s ABC television move, “Boston’s Finest.”
Equally adept at comedy and drama, Nelson has designed such films as “School for Scoundrels” and the live-action mermaid movie “Aquamarine” on Australia’s Gold Coast. Other feature design credits include “Man of the House” staring Tommy Lee Jones, and Academy Award-winning actor turned director Denzel Washington’s directing debut, “Antwone Fisher,” named one of AFI’s (American Film Institute) top 10 movies of 2002.
Coates has designed a wide variety of films from “Living Out Loud” starring Holly Hunter and Danny DeVito, to “Murder at 1600” featuring Wesley Snipes. He designed Kevin Spacey’s directorial debut, “Albino Alligator,” “Frailty” for Bill Paxton, as well as “Bastard Out Of Carolina” directed by Anjelica Huston. Additional credits include “Stir of Echoes,” “Disturbing Behavior,” “Blank Check,” “CB4,” “Three of Hearts,” and “Universal Soldier.”
His other television designs include the pilot/permanent sets of “Jonny Zero,” “John Doe,” and the miniseries “Stephen King’s The Stand,” which earned him an Emmy® nomination in recognition of the 220 sets and locations he designed. His design work has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and Entertainment Design Magazine. Between movie projects, Nelson designs for the real world as the architect/interior designer on unique residential and commercial projects.
An actor, singer and dancer with stage, TV and film credits, Coates has composed and choreographed more than a dozen opening and closing numbers for the Albert Schweitzer Awards in New York, including the year the Gorbachevs were honored. He has also earned the distinction of performing for Presidents Bush, Reagan, Ford and Carter.
A magna cum laude communications graduate of Abilene Christian University in Texas, Coates was named Outstanding Young Alumnus of the Year in 1996. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and serves on the Board of Trustees of Laguna College of Art and Design.
LOUISE FROGLEY (Costume Designer) recently marked her fifth collaboration with director Steven Soderbergh on "Contagion," having previously designed costumes for "Ocean’s Thirteen," "The Good German," "The Limey" and "Traffic." She earned Costume Designers Guild Award nominations for Excellence in Costume Design for a Contemporary Film for her work on both "Ocean’s Thirteen" and "Traffic."
Frogley was also honored by her peers with guild award nominations for her work on "Good Night, and Good Luck.," directed by and starring George Clooney, and for Stephen Gaghan's "Syriana," also starring Clooney. She also teamed with Clooney on the comedy "The Men Who Stare at Goats," the period romantic comedy "Leatherheads," and the drama "The Ides of March," which he directed and also stars alongside Ryan Gosling and Marisa Tomei.
Her other recent credits include the Marc Forster's James Bond adventure "Quantum of Solace," starring Daniel Craig; the romantic drama "The Last Song," Robert Redford's period drama "The Conspirator"; and the pilot for the acclaimed CBS series "The Good Wife."
Frogley began her career in London and Paris as a costume designer and set decorator. Her first movie assignment was as assistant costume designer on director Hugh Hudson's Academy Award®-winning drama "Chariots of Fire." She has since designed costumes for more than 30 features, including Neil Jordan's "Mona Lisa, Ron Shelton's "Bull Durham;” "Executive Decision," "U.S. Marshals," "Spy Game" and "Man on Fire" for director Tony Scott; Francis Lawrence's "Constantine,” and Stephen Gaghan's directorial debut, "Abandon."
Visual Effects Supervisor
KEVIN BAILLIE (Visual Effects Supervisor) is co-founder and visual effects supervisor at the Emeryville, CA based Atomic Fiction, where he recently oversaw the company's work on the 2011 summer blockbuster, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”
Before launching Atomic Fiction, Baillie spearheaded the execution of Disney’s animated feature “Mars Needs Moms” as VFX Supervisor and supervised a large portion of Disney’s animated holiday film, “A Christmas Carol” starring Jim Carrey. Prior to his involvement in animated features, Baillie led visual effects work on live-action movies such as the Oscar-nominated box office hits “Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End,” “Night at the Museum,” “Superman Returns” and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” and supervised teams on blockbusters such as “Hellboy,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Sin City,” “The Day After Tomorrow” and “Spy Kids 3-D.”
Baillie’s film career began very early when he joined Lucasfilm Ltd.’s exclusive JAK Films division as a revisualization artist at the age of 18. While there, he helped to design 800+ shots on Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: Episode I” and served as sequence supervisor for one of the most challenging sequences for on Fox Animation’s animated film, “Titan A.E.”Outside of work, Kevin spends much of his time pursuing his other passions of photography and race car driving with SCCA and NASA.
JEREMIAH O’DRISCOLL (Editor) previously collaborated with Robert Zemeckis as editor of “A Christmas Carol,” “Beowulf,” “The Polar Express” alongside R. Orlando Duenas, and as assistant to Arthur Schmidt on five of the director’s feature films, starting with “Death Becomes Her,” followed by “Forrest Gump,” “Contact,” “What Lies Beneath” and “Cast Away.” He recently edited the indie comedy film, “Goats,” starring David Duchovny and Vera Farmiga. Among his additional feature credits as an assistant editor are “Driving Miss Daisy,” “The Last of the Mohicans,” “Addams Family Values,” “The Birdcage” and “Primary Colors.”
- ROBERT ZEMECKIS - DIRECTOR/PRODUCER
- WALTER F. PARKES & LAURIE MACDONALD - PRODUCERS
- STEVE STARKEY - PRODUCER
- JACK RAPKE - PRODUCER
- CHERYLANNE MARTIN – EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
- JOHN GATINS - SCREENPLAY
- DON BURGESS, ASC - DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
- NELSON COATES - PRODUCTION DESIGNER
- LOUISE FROGLEY - COSTUME DESIGNER
- KEVIN BAILLIE - VISUAL EFFECTS SUPERVISOR
- JEREMIAH O’DRISCOLL - EDITOR
NAACP IMAGE AWARDS - WINNER:
- Actor in a Motion Picture – Denzel Washington
SATELLITE AWARDS - WINNER:
- Best Visual Effects - Michael Lantieri, Kevin Baillie, Ryan Tudhope, Jim Gibbs
ONLINE FILM CRITICS SOCIETY - NOMINATION:
- Best Actor Drama – Denzel Washington
HOLLYWOOD FILM AWARDS SPOTLIGHT AWARD - WINNER:
- Outstanding Performance – Kelly Reilly
CHICAGO FILM FESTIVAL FOUNDERS AWARD - WINNER:
- Unique & Innovate Approach to the art of the moving image – Robert Zemeckis
PALM SPRINGS FILM FESTIVAL - WINNER:
- Director of the Year – Robert Zemeckis
AFRICAN-AMERICAN FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION - WINNER:
- Best Actor – Denzel Washington
HOUSTON FILM CRITICS SOCIETY - NOMINATION:
- Best Actor – Denzel Washington
13th ANNUAL BLACK REEL AWARDS - WINNER:
- Outstanding Actor – Denzel Washington
TOP TEN LISTS:
- CHICAGO SUN-TIMES - Roger Ebert
- NEW YOUR POST - Kyle Smith
- TIME Magazine - Richard Corliss
- ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY - Owen Gleiberman
- STAR LEDGER - Stephen Whitty
- WABC NEW YORK - Sandy Kenyon
- CHICAGO TRIBUNE - Michael Phillips
- PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER - Steven Rea
- NEWSDAY - Rafer Guzman
- A.V. CLUB
- AFRICAN-AMERICAN FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION
- AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE
- ARTFORUM - J. Hoberman, Amy Taubin
- ASSOCIATED PRESS - Jake Coyle, David Germain, Christy Lemire
- BOSTON GLOBE - Ty Burr, Wesley Morris
- BOSTON ONLINE FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION
- CENTRAL OHIO FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION
- CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
- CORNELL DAILY SUN
AUSTRALIAN ACADEMY OF CINEMA AND TELEVISION ARTS - NOMINATION:
- Best Actor – Denzel Washington
“‘Flight reminds us of what Washington can do when a role hits him with a challenge that would floor a lesser actor.”
“He’s a ball of fire and his detailed, depth-charged, bruisingly true performance will be talked about for years.”
4 out of 4 Stars
“It’s near flawless.”
“’Flight’ is a hell of a ride.”
"Denzel Washington's performance is a triumph!"
“A riveting and powerful nail-biting thriller.”
“Washington is in top form, and he’s never less than gripping.”
"Washington's nuanced performance is a tightrope walk between the Denzel whom people expect and the character he's boldly burrowed into."
“Washington has found one of the best parts of his career in Whip Whitaker.”
“Mr. Zemeckis, directing his best movie since ‘Cast Away’”
“Mr. Washington’s ferocious performance”
“A powerful and layered action thriller”
“Robert Zemeckis parachutes back to where he belongs, in big-time, big-star, live-action filmmak-ing, with ‘Flight.’ A gritty, full-bodied character study about a man whose most exceptional deed may, ironically, have resulted from his most flagrant flaw, this absorbing drama provides Denzel Washington with one of his meatiest, most complex roles, and he flies with it.”
“A gripping, deeply engaging and emotionally powerful drama that features Denzel Washington at the top of his game.”
"Flight soars above ‘Cast Away’ with a more fully realized calibration of suspense, entertainment value and emotional payoff. Slickly paced and carried by mature performances, ‘Flight’ embodies one of the finer strains of Hollywood filmmaking in recent years."
“Zemeckis’ ‘Flight’ features Denzel Washington at his best.”
“The sort of bold, brave, award-worthy performance we may not have seen from Denzel Washing-ton since ‘Training Day.’”
“’Flight’ [is] a timely, relevant and emotionally touching film.”
“I knew Zemeckis had outdone himself.”
“‘Flight’ is riveting and compelling.”
“Zemeckis draws uniformly beautiful performances from his cast.”
“The crash sequences in Flight are nothing less than visually and viscerally electrifying.”
“One of the best films of the year!”
“Washington hits you in the gut with every beat, making ‘Flight’ near-transcendent.”
“‘Flight’ is a home-run!”
“There is not a misstep. Denzel, John Goodman, Don Cheadle, Bruce Greenwood, and the real surprise in the mix, Kelly Reilly, who hits it out of the park…all as good as could be. And in smaller roles, Tamara Tunie, Melissa Leo, Peter Gerety, and especially Brian Geraghty…all excellent.”
“This is the sort of performance where there’s no personal vanity involved, and there’s no thought of Denzel as Denzel.”
“One of Robert Zemeckis's best movies.”
“An absorbing, intelligent character study anchored by one of Denzel Washington’s most layered performances.”
“Denzel Washington is beyond superb! It’s an Oscar worthy performance that's masterfully and skillfully delivered with ferocity and feeling. It’s the best of his career, which is saying an awful lot. And certainly one of the all-time best performances ever by an actor. He is way on top of his game in ‘Flight.’”
“Nothing short of a masterpiece.”
“John Goodman turns out another superb supporting performance.”
“The first 20 minutes of Flight, short-wired for combustion, is one of the hairiest nonstop action sequences ever filmed, proving that in the 12 years since Cast Away, Mr. Zemeckis has forgotten nothing about how to stage the kind of breathtaking live-action fireworks display that keeps an audience paralyzed.”
“a bone-rattling scene that’s worth the price of admission.”
“It’s his best performance in years”
“‘Flight’ is excising – terrific, really…”
“Don Cheadle, excellent”
“Denzel Washington, in an extraordinary, Oscar-worthy performance”
“In one of his best performances, Washington builds the character through his actions, and sometimes just his expressions: a confident gaze here, a melting of that confidence elsewhere, and an ever-persistent hunger resting just below the surface.”
“Zemeckis is a technical wizard.”
“Written with penetrating honesty by John Gatins”
“It's a near-perfect piece of Hollywood filmmaking, slick and accessible but artful and even profound. It's also tremendous fun, even when, inevitably, the fun must stop.”
“Zemeckis's handling of spectacle would be undiminished, but he hasn't lost his touch with actors, either, coaching Washington into one of his rare performances that suggests much more than it shows.”
“Washington is exceptional”