Thursday 26th December 2013
Homefront stars Jason Statham as former drug enforcement agent, Phil Broker, a family man who moves off the grid with his daughter, to a seemingly quiet bayou backwater to escape his troubled past. However, Broker's world soon becomes anything but quiet once he discovers that an underbelly of drugs and violence riddles the small town. Soon, a sociopathic methamphetamine kingpin, Gator Bodine (James Franco) puts Broker and his daughter in harm's way forcing Broker back into action in order to save his family and the town.
With the screenplay written by Sylvester Stallone, who first established worldwide recognition as a writer when his screenplay Rocky, won the Academy Award® in 1976 for Best Picture, Homefront is based on the book by Chuck Logan. The action-thriller is directed by Gary Fleder (Runaway Jury, Kiss the Girls) and produced by Stallone alongside Kevin King Templeton and John Thompson, with Trevor Short and Avi Lerner executive producing through Millennium Films. Kate Bosworth, Winona Ryder, Frank Grillo and Izabela Vidovic also star.
Mr. Fleder elaborates on the story, as written by Stallone, "Homefront, ties into the classic Western paradigm of an ex-lawman who goes to live a quiet life in a small town who finds out that he can't just escape his past. Phil Broker, Jason Statham's character, moves to the backwaters of rural Louisiana after a huge bust goes bad. He only has his daughter... his wife has just passed away. He's grieving, he's in isolation, he's off the grid and the premise is that his daughter unwittingly creates a feud with a local family in this small southern bayou town and that feud escalates and escalates and magnifies to the point where all of a sudden, his cover is blown.
The character of Gator Bodine played by James Franco, decides to sell out his cover using him to his own gain, which puts Broker in harm's way. The second act of the movie is watching Phil Broker catch up to what the audience already knows. Something's going on he and his daughter are in great danger. Sly's screenplay has this classic structure of Shane or a High Noon where we keep hoping that good guy leaves town before the bad guys show up to get him. But in fact, of course, he's not going to give up the town to the bad guys, so this movie has the architecture of a great Western".
Producer Kevin King Templeton explains the genesis of Homefront: "I got a call from Jack Gilardi at ICM who represented the book's writer Chuck Logan. He sent me the book to read and I was very impressed with it. Around that time, 2005-2006, there was a methamphetamine explosion becoming a huge problem in the United States. It was becoming an epidemic. I brought the book to Sly and he spent a lot of time writing the script, with the eye for him to star in it".
Sylvester Stallone shares, "At one point this was going to be the final chapter of Rambo. I liked the concept and the timing of the storyline would have worked. While I was writing and developing the project we did quite a bit of research about tweakers, drug enforcement efforts and how meth has pervaded the whole country in this truly insidious way. It's a monstrous drug. But, I ended up doing Rocky Balboa and my parameters changed". Mr. Stallone continues, "My goals changed. I had this story sitting around for years and I thought it was really an excellent script but I had just outgrown it".
Mr. Stallone continues, "So, we were shooting The Expendables 2 in Bulgaria and I asked Jason to read the script. He fell in love with it and then he began to remind me; 'I want to do it, I want to do it, I want to do it.' I finally said, 'okay, fine... after about the fifth time I figured eh, he's sincere.'"
Jason Statham shares his perspective, "You know, while on location you spend a lot of down time talking about things other than the scenes that you are going to shoot that day. Sly was talking about what he had written over the years and other unproduced material that he had up his sleeve and he said 'Jason, I got this thing - Homefront - and I want you to read it.' I had an instant reaction to it. One, because it's Sly who had written it and I love the way he writes, but it had something really emotional about it, in terms of a guy looking out for his daughter. It struck a chord. It played to something inside of me. Sly said to me, 'I want you to play this part.' So that's how it came to me".
Mr. Fleder shares, "This is Sly's and Kevin King Templeton's strong suit... identifying material that connects with an audience. Going back to First Blood, you know, the material just strikes a chord and is also very relatable. I love the fact that when I got Sly's script from Kevin King Templeton it was a classic Western... a drama with suspense and action".
Mr. Stallone elaborates, "You know, people use the word action because if there's a car chase or a fight scene, it's action, but all those films like Dirty Harry, that's not an action film. Bullit was not an action film. You know, an action film is a film that's defined by minimal dialogue and maximum movement. This film, however, makes you think a bit, makes you feel. Therefore, it's a drama with high moments of suspense and action".
Mr. Templeton elaborates on the comparison of Stallone's screenplay to classic Westerns, "In High Noon it was a guy waiting for that train to come. Here we have him waiting for these guys to come, waiting for his life to be unmasked, waiting for his true identity to be revealed. He's in a town where he's not really wanted, where the locals don't like him and it's basically a race against time and fate. It's not a big action picture. It has the dramatic flavor of a Western set in a modern day times. Homefront is very character driven, with lots of tension and suspense. Sly and I liked the idea of this lonely guy with his daughter in set in a bucolic Southern town trying to get away from his past and how the locals deal with him and how he deals with them and how his past eventually catches up with him".
Mr. Templeton continues, "Sly completed the screenplay in 2008. As everyone knows he's a very accomplished writer, in fact an Oscar nominated writer. He took his time on this script and it took him a year to ruminate over the book. There were a few characters in the book that we couldn't quite fit into a screenplay but Sly was quite adept with keeping the storyline of the book while streamlining the script.
"Gary Fleder and I were contemplating doing a project together", Mr. Templeton shares, "One New Year's Day, we were having coffee and I gave him Sly's script and said, 'read this and tell me what you think.' He read the script... then called me the next day and said, I love this. What can I do? How can I help? And, that's where it started".
Mr. Fleder took to the screenplay as soon as he read it, "This idea of a Western but in context of a modern setting... it's not that different, whether it's say 1853 or it's 2013. It's the same basic architecture. You know, this man and his daughter move to a small town to live a quiet good life. They don't want any trouble and some little ignition point with locals creates a feud that escalates to the point where his past is exposed and danger ensues.
Mr. Statham adds, "A Western... a guy rides into town and starts to get pushed around and the people into town start to realize that they are pushing the wrong guy and he straightens a few things out and at the end the town becomes a better place. That is in line with the story of Homefront".
"When I made Runaway Jury", shares Mr. Fleder, "one of the themes I played with was the notion that everybody's corrupt to some extent. If you look at that movie, every character had some level of corruption. This goes back to In Cold Blood, there's always a dark edge to things. There is no perfect place where there's no evil. Evil exists everywhere, in every town. It goes back to the Salem witch trials. To me, the more pastoral, the more beautiful, the more bucolic the setting, the more I'm going, gee, where's the bad guy?"
Mr. Fleder elaborates on collaborating with Sylvester Stallone and producer Kevin King Templeton on Homefront, "It's easy to forget, you know, with Sly as an iconic character in all these big blockbuster movies... the Rambo films and Expendables, that he's also a terrific writer. He's a very thoughtful writer. He's an obsessive writer. In fact, it's funny, when I first began working with Kevin during development, I went back and I watched the documentary of the making of the first Expendables movie. There's a whole portion of the film where Sly is writing and rewriting and scribbling on pages and I thought, he's like me. He's obsessed. He really-really cares. The fact that he's also an actor as is as a really big deal for me. Because I think that some of best writers, David Mamet is one example that comes to mind, came from being actors. Sly understandsemotion. He understands subtext and he understands a character's intention and objective. It isn't about exposition or about narrative. It's about who the people are in the story".
Mr. Stallone shares, "Gary has done some extremely dramatic movies and cutting edge films and dark indie films and has worked with many award-winning actors. He's a great director, a perfectionist who shoots a lot of film because he wants to get it right.
Gary is an extremely confident, passionate filmmaker and he surrounded Jason with first rate performers... and this is what allowed Jason to up his game as an actor".
Mr. Statham shares about his director, "Gary is meticulous. He is a cinemaphile. He knows more about movies than anybody I've ever met. He is referencing all these great influences that he has in the way he goes and makes movies. He is prepared and great with actors. He is a great communicator. He loves what he does and he is super prepared. He gave me a real push and it was a great collaboration".
"The thing I really enjoyed about working with Stallone and with Kevin King, Jason and in fact, the whole cast, is that they let the process evolve", Mr. Fleder continues, "Sly and Kevin originally bought the book. Sly wrote the script for himself. He was going to play the part a decade ago but later decided that he didn't want to do it anymore and instead was going to produce it with Jason starring. One of the great moments on this film was during pre-production when we had rehearsals in Los Angeles and Stallone came to the rehearsals. For those three days it was amazing to watch him as a writer working on the dialogue with the actors in the room. It was interesting to watch him lock into every actor in the room, working with their rhythms, improvising with them, playing with them. I really saw how he blends the writing muscle with the acting muscle. Sly is obsessive, he's accomplished and he understands what affects people emotionally".
Producer John Thompson sums it up, "Jason's core fans are obviously going to get all of the thrills and action that they expect but I think that we are delivering something much deeper. We've got a terrific ensemble of respected actors and Gary did a tremendous job on this... he runs a tight ship as a director".
"In addition to the core, I'm expecting this film to bring in a different audience including those people that can put themselves in the position of being a father with a daughter in jeopardy. We've made the story as real and plausible as possible and this is a real universal theme. I think that we've tapped into those emotions... that drama... and it'll payoff by having the film resonate to a broader audience".
Mr. Statham adds, "I think the characters that Sly writes are authentic and people really respond to them in very natural way. I don't know what it is about his writing. It's very difficult to put it into words, I just find it real and the characters have a lot of heart. You care about the characters and you want them to succeed no matter what situation they are in. You root for them and I feel he does that better than anybody else".
Mr. Statham talks about the honor he felt to be offered the lead by Sylvester Stallone, "He actually wrote Homefront for himself", the British star said, "which for me, is an amazing privilege. Sly said to me, 'Listen, I'm not going to be able to do this. I'd love for you to do this.' Well this is one of the greatest compliments I could ever get... a class-A filmmaker and screenwriter, just handing his personal project over to me. That was a great moment in my career, to be given a script by Sylvester Stallone, an Academy Award-nominated writer".
Mr. Templeton explains, "Though Sly usually writes for himself, at a certain point he realized that he had to pass the mantle, on this project, to an actor he respects, a younger guy who can carry the physicality as well as handle the dramatic beats. Having worked with Jason Statham, twice before, we got to know him well. He responded to the material quite enthusiastically and we both thought he'd be the right guy to pull this off. He's quite an underrated and underused dramatic actor and this was a perfect vehicle for him to stretch his actor muscles. Jason has an underutilized smile and he has a very sweet, charming side to him. We all know that he's good in action movies, but after the two films we did with him, we wanted to see him to get out of that comfort range".
Mr. Statham's co-star Kate Bosworth adds, "Jason's such a sweetheart and a really talented actor. He's incredibly professional and just a real joy to be around. He really lights up a room. Whenever he comes on set, I feel his great energy. I always think it's important for the actors to bring that energy to a set because it does ripple out to the crew and it's amazing to see him in action scenes because he's so well versed. It's extraordinary. I mean, I've seen stuntmen do action beautifully, but I've never seen an actor do it quite as skillful as he does. That coupled with his dramatic acting talents is really something to watch".
Phil Broker is a man with a backstory, he's a man with a history, Mr. Fleder explains, "he's a man with a skill set. We know he has it and the other characters are unaware so there's an inherent tension in when that's going to come out. You know, it is that classic 'hero idea' of a guy who has a talent, who's hiding it, who's obscuring it, who's keeping it covert. I love playing with that, narratively, I love playing with the notion that Phil Broker is a man with a great talent, a great skill that he's trying to keep tapped down. Eventually it's going to have to come out to have him survive and thrive".
Mr. Stallone describes the character's backstory, "Broker is a transplant from overseas. He was doing undercover work for the American government and actually became part of a group of very brave guys that infiltrate outlaw motorcycle gangs. He could play the role and he did it for years and then he finally hit his breaking point and quit when his wife died".
Mr. Fleder continues, "The fun thing for me with Jason Statham in this role and this goes back to my conversations with Stallone, is the notion that you've never gotten to see Jason Statham, in a recent memory anyway, to play a character as vulnerable and humble and just try to be a good guy who's trying to blend in".
Mr. Stallone adds, "Jason hasn't done anything like this before. He's breaking new ground...uncharted waters. He has a lot more talent than he gives himself credit for. I think that someone that knows him intimately, at least in a professionally sense like I do, knows that he can pull this off. I know that when you do a series of action films, you're called upon to play a strong silent type and you're not supposed to be that emotional. It's just not that kind of character, not the kind of persona he had developed, so now he had to let all that out".
Mr. Statham shares, "I was blown away by the opportunity to do something that Sly was going to do. But this was a guy who had a daughter. I've never played a father. The guy is selfless, you know, a very humble chap. The only thing that keeps him going is his daughter. A lot of the characters I play, or have played, are you know, very sort of comic book sort of characters, that don't have a lot of emotion and don't share a lot of love for many things but themselves, So Homefront was something that I really thought would be different and challenging".
Mr. Fleder elaborates, "Sly referenced these similarities with his work on Copland in terms of playing a guy who wasn't the alpha male, that wasn't the macho guy, that wasn't the guy trying to kick everyone's ass. It was fun in the film to see the other side of Jason that you don't get to see; the charm, the smile, the humility".
Mr. Statham laughs, "I never get to have a good time on screen, I'm always playing the miserable tough guy, so now you actually get to see... a little...you know... well... a sweeter side of myself and that you don't normally get to see".
Mr. Fleder describes meeting Jason Statham for the first time, nearly twelve years ago, "He'd just come off of the Guy Ritchie films and he had a lot of heat. I met him for coffee and I found a guy who is very funny, charming, with an infectious smile and a great laugh. I then began to see another ten years of films, where I thought he was burying the lead a little bit with that. He was also kind of burying the charm and the humor and the smile. I saw a little bit of it in The Italian Job. So when we met again on Homefront, I said to him, 'I really want to mine that, those layers from you again - your charm, your humility, your affability. Let's get those elements into this film.' That was Jason's task here. How do you be vulnerable, how do you bleed, how do you show your flaws, show your weaknesses?"
"This is a story about a guy trying to live and trying to experience things he has not had", explains Mr. Statham. "He has suffered a tragedy. He has lost his wife and his main focus in life now is his daughter. He will do anything for his daughter and he just wants her to be happy so he puts them in a place where she will be happy. A place that she can ride horses in the countryside... a very picturesque small town with not a lot of interference. They hope to live a quite life and spend some quality time together. We don't really get to see a side of what he is really capable of until the bad people start doing bad things and start interfering... not so much with him... the seed of the interference is an incident that occurs with his daughter at school... so that is something that he will not take lightly".
Reflecting on the quality of script and his cast, Mr. Statham said, "The cast that we have is a testament to the quality of Sly's script... James Franco, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth, we have a great cast. I think you get quality actors dependent on how good the material is. You get good writing and they all want to come and work".
"James Franco is such a highly respected actor and he delivered for us in a very big way", says producer John Thompson as he relates how the filmmakers landed the actor for the role of Gator. "James was doing another movie for our company, Millennium and Avi Lerner gave him the Homefront script. James read it and he got back to Avi within a week saying that he'd love to take on the role of Gator. Franco's schedule was a bit difficult... he teaches two days a week... but once he came aboard, it added a lot of gravity to our production as a drama and not just a pure action film".
Mr. Fleder describes Gator as the villain, "but his character is not a cliché. He's a guy that doesn't have a personal beef at all with Phil Broker. He's much scarier. He has an impersonal beef with Phil Broker. He realizes that this guy is simply a bit of currency. In fact the main idea of the story is he's going to sell out Phil Broker's identity for his own personal gain".
"James Franco is a great actor", says Mr. Statham, "The character is not a stereotypical bad guy. Franco gives a quirky sort of eeriness to this guy and it's something good to come up against. It's not what you expect from the bad guys that we see in a lot of these kind of films".
As Mr. Stallone shares, Gator is the type of character that I would like to play. You take for granted that he's just a backwoods hick, but he's not. He's Machiavellian. He's extremely clever. He's industrious. You realize that something is lurking.
Something very, very creepy is sneaking around in the dark. It's all about suspense and intention almost bordering on horror".
James Franco explains a bit of the backstory to his character, "Gator is a local who runs a boat repair shop. On the side he's involved in methamphetamine manufacture, but he also polices the area for his own purposes. You know, he's trying to keep out the competition, but he's worked it out with the local sheriff so that if he helps police some of the other sellers in the area, he'll be able to sell his own stuff".
Mr. Templeton adds, "James Franco is not often playing a villain. Here he plays not just a stock villain but also a very smart, very savvy, very cunning, very clever nemesis. I wouldn't say bad guy per se. I mean, he's a guy that's in a bad business and he's very good at what he does. Obviously, it's antithetical to Jason's character and it's a clever role for James and he brings a lot to it. James is phenomenal actor and we're lucky to have him. He brings so much to this film in terms of a dramatic gravitas. James, not only read the script, he read the book as well. He responded fantastically to the screenplay and he was actually one of our first on board. When you see him on the screen, you realize why he became a star. His charisma, energy and his persona just enlarge everything he does on screen".
Mr. Franco shares, "This is my fourth film with Millennium and they just financed a movie I directed based on a book by William Faulkner called As I Lay Dying, so we had a really good relationship and they brought me this movie and it looked like a really fun part, something that I hadn't really done before. Gary Fleder was aboard as the director and Stallone was the screenwriter. Gary and I had talked about working together for a while, so it just seemed like a good fit".
Mr. Stallone says, "Casting James Franco was a godsend. He's an actor that has multiple levels and in this role his calmness, his unflappable attitude is very disturbing. For the role of Gator, that's a very intimidating attitude as opposed to someone who's just obviously grinding his teeth. Gator doesn't have a conscience. He's sociopathic. He doesn't appear to get rattled, but you know inside he's just spinning apart. You never see it. That's true acting. It's self-control on James' part and he knows when and how to use the physicality that comes with the gift of his ability".
Mr. Fleder recalls that first meeting with James Franco, "The big thing for me was that James said to me, 'I don't want to make this role a cliché. It can't just be the sort of the stereotypical Southern bully bad guy. I want to find all the eccentricity in Gator. I just want to use him to get something else.' It's interesting because I really didn't know 'til we got to the set if James Franco had that intensity and that dark side to him. Franco is a very complex and interesting guy. There's an eccentricity to James in real life".
"On that first day of filming", Mr. Fleder continues, "All of a sudden he became that guy, the look, the intensity. He became predatory like a viper. It wasn't about him being big or muscular or fast. I realized then that I didn't have to worry, he had it".
Mr. Franco talks about his director, "Gary Fleder is very collaborative, he's enthusiastic and from the start we agreed that we didn't want Gator to be a cliché villain. Gary wanted us to do everything that we can to make him multi-dimensional and human and we really stuck to that. I feel like we shaped the character to bring it off the page in ways that... you know... I'm happy to play a villain".
Mr. Franco ponders, "I think when actors say it's fun to play a villain maybe they mean something in the mold of Jack Nicholson as The Joker or something. You just get to chew up the scenery and go crazy. Here, with this character, that's not really the case. I think the fun of figuring this character out was really how to make him human. Basically, it came down to a couple key human things where he's doing what he's doing not because he's overtly evil, not because he wants world domination. He has a reason that I think anybody could understand. He just wants more in his life. He was kind of given a shitty lot and he just wants to make something of his life and he's given this opportunity and the opportunity happens to involve harming other people. I think anybody can kind of understand him so, like if I had that opportunity. Hypothetically, yeah, maybe I want something more in life... but would I hurt another person to do get it? Most of us would hopefully say 'no.' Gator rationalizes it and says 'yes.' In that sense he's a villain, but I like that you can follow his reasoning and at least understand it even though we might not agree with it or not all of us would necessarily do what he does".
Mr. Fleder sums it up, "Gator Bodine is a guy that's opportunistic and desperate and he's a classic sociopath. James Franco brings all the humor and the wit and the eccentricity to this character".
Kate Bosworth plays Cassie Bodine, Gator's meth-addict sister, "I've loved working with James", Ms. Bosworth says, "he's interesting. We didn't speak much about the characters before stepping on set together. I play his sister and they have quite a dysfunctional relationship in that he's the dealer and she's the user, so there's this kind of neediness and guilt between them and so much of this relationship is unspoken. It's really displayed in between our dialogue. We both just launched off the cliff and let that be what it was. It's nice when you have that kind of effortless exchange with an actor when you don't know them very well and haven't worked with them previously".
The character that really ignites everything in Homefront, the catalyst for the mayhem, is Cassie Bodine. Mr. Fleder elaborates, "Cassie is the one that takes a very small incident at the school that Broker's daughter attends. There's a fight between two kids -- and she magnifies this small incident into something like World War III".
Mr. Stallone describes the character as written, "She has a volatility. She has that explosive side that is completely irrational and dangerous but she also can wind down and be sympathetic".
"I was blown away with Kate did. I mean she is a mile away from this Cassie character she portrays", says Mr. Statham. "She really embodied this part, she did her homework and she put together a stunning little performance. We was all like, 'Wow, is that Kate?' You know, she blew everyone away".
"There were a few revelations I had while we were casting this this film", Mr. Fleder shares, "one of them is Kate Bosworth playing Cassie Bodine. You know, I will admit this right now: when I first heard her name for this character, I just did not think of her for this part and did not know if she could commit to the part as written. The reality is that Cassie Bodine is an ugly, vile person. I don't mean physically ugly. She's emotionally ugly. She's the kind of person in a town that you probably want to avoid.
You'd avoid her at the café, at the diner, at the gas station; you just don't want to be in her sphere. She just reeks of this kind of this angry negative energy. She's kind of a pariah. I've never seen Kate do that type of role before this one, but we met and then I saw it in her eyes... she was fearless".
Mr. Templeton supported her casting as soon as they met. He shares, "Lots of people know Kate from Blue Crush. We met with a lot of actresses for this role and Kate was the one I really responded to. She sold herself on me and as soon as I met her, I said to our financier, Millennium's Avi Lerner 'I want her,' and then after, as soon as I met her, I got Gary on board".
Kate Bosworth shares her perspective, "I was sent the script, read it and I really enjoyed it. It's an exciting with a fair amount of action but more than that that it's quite character driven. It's simplistic in the best way in that the action and the physicality depend upon the believability of the actors and the characters. I feel like we've kind of lost that a little bit in modern cinema. I was attracted to the screenplay for that reason. I thought Sylvester Stallone did an amazing job adapting the novel and Cassie's such... well, there's the way of playing her that's not just the kind of gimmicky kind of drug addled girl".
Mr. Templeton continues, "Kate really brought her 'A-game' on this film. She came prepared. She's a very, very well prepared actress and quite underrated. She felt she could get into Cassie's head and bring something to that character that could help tell the story. The first day that she came to set and she did a very difficult scene and that's when I felt vindicated. I thought, my goodness, I'm so glad we have her. I said to Gary, 'just look at this girl.' She's perfect as our Cassie!"
Mr. Fleder agrees, "There was no vanity. Kate brought this real fearless quality to this performance that on the very first day of filming I was knocked out. She became Cassie. She said to us, 'the character wouldn't wear makeup; I'm not going to come to the set with beautiful makeup and designer clothes. I won't wash my hair for a while. I'll even smoke in the film. She's like, yeah, let's bring it on!"
The love was mutual. Kate Bosworth shares about her director, "Working with Gary Fleder has been such a pleasure. I asked him if he ever sleeps, because we'll be working on night shoots and everyone's just like falling over, they're so tired and he's just so focused and ready to go. It's great to have that kind of energy in a leader. It's wonderful to have a director who will really trust and collaborate with the actors".
Ms. Bosworth elaborates, "Gary and I talked about the characters a lot before being on set and then we kind of left the dialogue behind and just kind of jumped into filming and from there on out, it was just him trusting his actors with the characters. He said it best when he said, 'you know, you're going to start knowing Cassie better than me as soon as you're on set".
Ms. Bosworth shares the backstory of her character, "Cassie is a a meth addict. It's been a really interesting character to play. Why is she abusing herself in this way? What lies beneath that? Well, I think that really comes from her being incredibly dissatisfied in her life. She was probably the popular girl in high school and was meant to go other places or had dreams to go other places. What I imagined is that she met her husband in high school and got pregnant senior year and that was kind of that and from there on out, she's just resented her husband, she's resented her circumstance. I was interested in finding out like what was sympathetic about her. It was important for me to keep humanity about her, so that was the challenge".
Sheryl Mott, as played by Winona Ryder, is Gator Bodine's love interest and partner in crime. Mr. Fleder shares, "Winona Ryder brought a fearlessness to her role, where all of a sudden she became this character, Cheryl Mott. Winona has always been, for years since she was a kid, one of America's great iconic actresses. This role wasn't really the kind of role she'd ever played before; a beaten down biker chick. A biker groupie, in a sense. She's a very smart actress and she really cares about the motivation, she really cares about every scene".
Mr. Templeton concurs, "Winona Ryder is an immensely talented actress. She wanted to play Sheryl and her interpretation of the role was exactly what we were looking for. She brought all these different ideas to us, as someone with her ability and talent will often do when they get picked for a role. She's one of my favorite actresses and a scene-stealer in whatever she does, whether she's a leading actress or whether she's an ensemble player".
"Frank is a character actor. I saw him in The Grey", Mr. Templeton shares, "at first, Sly was looking for a bigger guy, a huge monstrous guy to play Cyrus. He wanted a more intimidating actor. When I first saw pictures of Frank, I didn't think he was physically intimidating enough. Then I saw a couple of movies he's done and he scared the hell out of me. He's a very experienced and skillful actor. He deserves all the accolades that come his way. He's very gifted".
"Frank Grillo's an excellent actor". Mr. Stallone reveals, "I originally wrote the part for a big, thunderous human being and I saw this character with a ponytail and pockmarked and bull necked... just a terrifying beast. When Frank Grillo's name came up, I said, okay that totally works because one of the most ferocious bikers and leader of the Hells Angels, was Sonny Barger and a friend of mine who's also in the film, Chuck Zito, was head of the Hells Angels for years and while they're substantial they're not physically overwhelming. These guys just have the persona and presence to control and command monsters without being huge, physically".
Mr. Fleder recalls, "I've been a fan of Frank Grillo's for years. Twelve years ago, I cast him in a small role in that show, The Shield. He's one of these great New York actors who's been out there working nonstop and people see him, but, you know, he's the guy in The Grey and he's the guy here and he's the guy in End of Watch, but you don't always know his name. You'll know his name soon; he was cast in Captain America. Frank loves to bring to any character lots of layers and surprises to the table. The role he's playing of Cyrus, this psychotic biker character was written as a physically big dude. Frank is tremendous athlete, he's a boxer, but he's not physically huge. He has such an interesting face and a voice and he's so mercurial that I loved just getting him in this role".
Mr. Fleder goes on to elaborate on the collaboration with Stallone on Grillo's character, "Sly said to me, 'Frank Grillo isn't physically the guy that I conceived but if you believe in him as the persona and the character, let's go with it.' For me it's one of the great things about the film, is that he took this character that could have been in the wrong hands, could have been one dimensional or could have been a throwaway character and became a really important part of the second and third act. He becomes a co-villain with Franco".
Homefront has its story take place in a fictitious town called Rayville, set in central Louisiana along the bayous, backwaters and, swamps. Rayville can be so beautiful in the daytime; the bayou, the oak groves, beautiful river plantation houses... but at night it's incredibly scary.
"The book was actually set in Minnesota", Mr. Stallone explains, "But that didn't present the kind of sultry energy and mystery we wanted. There's something about the South and the swamp that just makes you uneasy because you're out of your element. It's a unique place... the Louisiana bayou. Gary Fleder is from the South and spent a lot of time scouting and worked extremely hard to find locations that I hadn't thought of. That was his vision and he did a great job with it.
Mr. Fleder shares, "We've all seen those homes that you wouldn't want to go to at night on Halloween, trick or treating, but they're beautiful in the daytime. That's Homefront. We use settings that are so spectacular when the sun is up...the pastoral beauty, the bucolic nature, however at night it's terrifying".
The director, who was born in Virginia, talks about setting the story in the South, "The idea of it being in the South, to me, was irrelevant. It was more the idea that the haven that Broker chooses is bucolic, it's pastoral; it's not the city. And it could have been anywhere in the country. It could have been in Canada or Maine. To me it was the idea that when you remove yourself from an urban environment into a community, it doesn't matter where it is. In a tight community, everyone knows everything. There are no secrets. Everyone knows who is paying off a local cop. People know who's the bad guy and know who the true mayor is without the title. To me, being from the South, it was very important in fact not to make fun of it. I have a great deal of respect for the South and the Southeast especially. It was more that Phil Broker is going to a place where he's an outsider. He's an interloper. To accentuate this I had Jason Statham play his role in his natural accent".
Mr. Fleder continues, "We make him a former Interpol agent, so we legitimize Jason's natural accent and make it work for the film. The idea is that a guy from East London, whether he's in Louisiana or he's in Texas or he's in South Dakota, is still an interloper. I go back to the idea of it being a classic Western paradigm. You know, a guy of a certain skill set goes to a place, doesn't want any trouble and then trouble finds him".
With production taking place on the outskirts and perimeter of New Orleans, Mr. Thompson shares, "Louisiana is a great state for us to film. In addition to the financial incentives, talented and experienced crew base and the other resources for moviemaking, there's just such a rich variety of looks that we can capture on camera. The production value here is unparalleled".
Fleder elaborates, Louisiana is so eclectic and diverse in the looks of even being twenty-thirty miles outside of New Orleans proper, that you get a lot of what's in the rest of the country. And for this movie in particular, we found amazing locations and vistas and oak groves and fields by the bayou. We shot in places as far as from Gretna and Westwego to Slidell. You know, it's astonishing. It definitely is a state where the right time of year, when the light is perfect and it's not raining too much, you can get amazing locations and backdrops".
Mr. Thompson continues, "It's beautiful within New Orleans proper, but once you get outside the city you truly get a real sense of the deep South. Vistas open up and we get to see the bayou, the swamps and all of the little inlets and canals. It's just such beautiful country and it serves our story". He adds rhetorically, "What's more rural than a backwater Cajun bayou?"
Mr. Templeton shares his perspective, "This is my fifth movie in Louisiana. The state is so diverse in resources; you could shoot anything here. Louisiana is a very film friendly State and the local crews are great. When you come here, I see more movie people in Louisiana than I do in Los Angeles, where I live. It's become one of the film hubs of America. It's not just the tax incentives. You can shoot many different cities and many different projects and many different genres here because the city and the state are open and cooperative and they encourage all type of filmmaking here.
Mr. Fleder adds, "I made a film in New Orleans about ten years ago called Runaway Jury and at the time I think we were the first, among the first, movies to film there using the new tax incentives. Having gone back now ten eleven years later on Homefront, I was astonished to see the unbelievable depth of crew that had been developed. It's Hollywood on Bayou".
Production designer Greg Berry has worked as an art director on movies such as 3:10 to Yuma and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. As Mr. Fleder relates, "What I loved about Greg's point of view was that he said, I really want to get into the authenticity and the texture of this world. He and I were both very concerned that when people saw the film, that it didn't feel like it was the Hollywood prism of what this world is, which I think is condescending.
We talked about the idea of stereotypes and making fun of things. And I think that when you look at a location and it becomes too glossy, I think audiences feel it doesn't feel truthful, it doesn't feel authentic. We looked at films like Winter's Bone. There's something about that film that resonates as real. It felt like you really were watching a documentary about this culture of people and the economy.
Greg is a real artist and he controlled the palate, the color and had this sense that everything was sort of beaten down and weathered down. The rust... it just felt wet. What makes being in the South and being in that part of the country beautiful also makes it harsh. The elements are harsh. And I think we got that in the design texture".
Mr. Fleder talks about his cinematographer Theo van de Sande, "Theo is a wonderful Dutch cinematographer who has been at his craft for nearly forty years. And what I love about Theo is that he's fearless as a cinematographer. When you're fearful, when you're too conservative as an artist or a photographer, or cinematographer, your work tends to get repetitive and have a certain style to it, it never changes and you never sort of push the envelope.
And with Theo I said to him, 'look, let's play with color, let's play with light, let's play with how we shoot this. There's an opening scene and a drug bust that has to be a certain kind of feel. Then we move to this other environment that has to have its own kind of feel. So how do you differentiate? And, you know, I think the thing about Theo is that he's great with light, he's a great technician, but he also he's an artist. So it was fun to watch him push the envelope with playing with light and color".
There's a strong design element of biker gang subculture in Homefront. Kelli Jones, the film's costumer, had worked on Sons of Anarchy for its entire run. Director Gary Fleder explains, "Kelli brought to this film, all those layers of authenticity. The whole perimeter of this movie is surrounded by a threat from this fictitious group called The Outlaws. But, even more important to me she found a way to soften Jason Statham's character. She brought to it the idea of putting him in sort of flannels and denim and this great hat and all of a sudden she just softened Jason in a way that I'd never seen before. Jason is very meticulous about the details and he really he cares the way a filmmaker cares. Kelli was right there with him. When an artist locks in with you as a director, costumer, production designer, cinematographer, you can sort of just show up on the set that day and it's already in place. And that happened with Kelli. She was astonishing in her way to always be ahead of me with what I wanted".
Jason Statham (Phil Broker) is an international star best known for his hard-hitting action thrillers. Most recently he was seen in Parker, The Expendables 2and stars in the forthcoming thriller Hummingbird, screenwriter Steven Knight's directorial debut (Dirty Pretty Things, Eastern Promises).
Born in Sydenham, England, Statham was one of the top divers on the British national team, eventually placing 12th in the world. When he trained at the famed Crystal Palace National Sport Center in London, film crews and photographers pursued him as new talent and he eventually met the executive producer of an upcoming film. Statham then met with the director, Guy Ritchie and that's how he made his film debut as Bacon in Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels (1998).
Statham went on to work with Ritchie again in Snatch (2000), starring opposite Brad Pitt and Benicio Del Toro. He was then cast by French film impresario Luc Besson in the title role of Frank Martin in The Transporter (2002); starred as Handsome Rob in the blockbuster remake of The Italian Job (2003); and kept moviegoers' hearts racing as Chev Chelios, the adrenaline-compromised action hero who powered Crank (2006).
Statham returned as Frank Martin in Transporter 2 (2006) and Transporter 3 (2008) before starring in Roger Donaldson's The Bank Job (2008), the critically acclaimed true story of the 1971 Baker Street bank robbery. He also toplined the action remake Death Race (2008), starring opposite Ian McShane.
Next Statham reprised the role of Chev Chelios in Crank 2: High Voltage (2009) and teamed up with some of the world's biggest action stars in Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables (2010). Statham followed up with a remake of The Mechanic (2011), which originally starred Charles Bronson as professional hit man Arthur Bishop.
Statham then filled the shoes of detective Tom Brant in the U.K. crime-thriller Blitz (2010), based on the novel by Ken Bruen. Statham was recently seen in Killer Elite (2011), written by Ralph Fiennes and based on a true story, as well as Safe (2012), directed by Boaz Yakin and produced by Lawrence Bender.
He is presently shooting Expendables 3 with Sylvester Stallone, many of the original cast as well as with Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford.
James Franco's (Gator Bodine) metamorphosis into the title role of the TNT biopic James Dean earned him career-making reviews, as well as a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture made for Television. He also received nominations for an Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Award for this memorable performance. Franco earned an Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead as well as nominations for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award and recognition from numerous critics' associations for his starring role in Danny Boyle's critically acclaimed drama 127 Hours.
His performance alongside Sean Penn in Gus Van Sant's Milk earned an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor and he was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role in David Gordon Green's comedy Pineapple Express, where he starred opposite Seth Rogen. He is also known for his starring role as Harry Osbourne in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy.
Franco was most recently seen in the successful reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. He also recently starred opposite Danny McBride and Natalie Portman in David Gordon Green's comedy Your Highness, Ryan Murphy's Eat, Pray, Love alongside Julia Roberts and he was a part of an all-star ensemble cast in Shawn Levy's comedy Date Night. He will next be seen in Sam Raimi's Oz: The Great And Powerful and Child Of God, which he also co-wrote and directed and he just wrapped production on The End Of The World with Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen.
Franco's additional credits include Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's Howl, where he played the famous poet Allen Ginsberg, George C. Wolfe's Nights In Rodanthe; Paul Haggis' In The Valley Of Elah; Karen Moncrieff's ensemble drama The Dead Girl; Tommy O'Haver's dramaAn American Crime; John Dahl's The Great Raid; Robert Altman's The Company; as well as City By The Sea opposite Robert DeNiro and the Martin Scorsese produced Deuces Wild. On television, he starred in the critically acclaimed series Freaks And Geeks.
He wrote, directed and starred in the features Good Time Max and The Ape. Herbert White, a short film in which he wrote and directed starring Michael Shannon, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010. The Feast Of The Stephen, also written and directed by Franco, premiered and won a Teddy award at the Berlin Film Festival. Additionally, Franco directed Saturday Night, a documentary on the week-long production of a "Saturday Night Live" episode, which originally premiered at SXSW and The Clerks Tale, which premiered at Cannes. Franco recently wrote and directed a biography on poet Hart Crane called The Broken Tower which premiered at the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival and also directed SAL, a biography based on the life of Sal Mineo, which screened at the 2011 Venice Film Festival.
Kate Bosworth (Cassie Bodine) has made the seamless transition from a young Hollywood starlet to one of today's leading ladies. She played the iconic 'Lois Lane' in Warner Bros. Superman Returns for director Bryan Singer and graced the screen in Kevin Spacey's Beyond the Sea, where she portrayed screen icon 'Sandra Dee' opposite Spacey as Bobby Darin. Receiving rave reviews from critics, Dee herself gave a nod of approval for her portrayal as the ultimate golden girl.
Bosworth was most recently seen the independent film Little Birds with Juno Temple and recently completed production on Michael Polish's Big Sur with Josh Lucas. She also stars in the thriller Black Rock with Lake Bell which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. She is currently shooting the Sylvester Stallone-penned action-thriller Homefront where she stars opposite James Franco and Jason Statham.
Her additional recent credits include the comedy Life Happens starring opposite Krysten Ritter and Rachel Bilson, Sam Levinson's indie drama Another Happy Day starring opposite Demi Moore and Ellen Barkin, the remake of Straw Dogs with James Marsden and Alexander Skarsgard, the action film The Warriors Way with Danny Huston and Geoffrey Rush, David Auburn's drama The Girl in the Park opposite Sigourney Weaver and in Robert Luketic's 21.
Most recognized for her strong-willed performance in John Stockwell's hugely successful Blue Crush, Bosworth landed her first lead role after dedicating herself to a crash course in surfing. Contradicting the blonde surfer-girl image and showcasing her multidimensional range, Bosworth's next project, the dark indie biopic Wonderland, had her portraying the real-life girlfriend of the late, infamous porn star John Holmes, played by Val Kilmer.
With this determination not to be typecast, it is no surprise that Bosworth made another turn in her next film Win a Date with Tad Hamilton, Robert Luketic's romantic comedy in which she starred opposite Topher Grace and Josh Duhamel. Critics dubbed her as America's next sweetheart for her performance as a small town girl caught in a love triangle. Bosworth also made a cameo appearance in Bee Season as a Hari Krishna convert opposite Max Minghella, Richard Gere and Juliette Binoche.
While she made her feature film debut in Robert Redford's film The Horse Whisperer at the age of 14, Bosworth made the decision early on to make education her priority-choosing parts that would accommodate her school schedule. While in high school, she starred in the WB's hit summer series Young Americans and took a role in Jerry Bruckheimer's Remember the Titans. Subsequent to her graduation, Bosworth starred in Roger Avary's Rules of Attraction.
Winona Ryder (Cheryl Mott) With two Oscar® nominations and a Golden Globe® Award to her credit, Winona Ryder hails as one of Hollywood's most sought after talents and classic beauties.
Ryder will next been seen in the drama The Iceman opposite Oscar® nominees Michael Shannon and James Franco. The film, which premiered to rave reviews at the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals in 2012, is based on the true story of Richard Kuklinski, the notorious contract killer and family man. Of her performance, The Hollywood Reporter, says, "The film's chief asset is without question its performances. It's terrific to see Ryder back in such a juicy role and she brings a lovely ethereal quality to [the role]". The film will open on May 3, 2013 by Millennium Films.
She most recently lent her voice to Tim Burton's stop-motion Oscar®-nominated animated film Frankenweenie. The Walt Disney Pictures film is a feature-length adaptation of the live-action short film Burton directed in 1984. Martin Landau, Martin Short and Catherine O'Hara also added their voices to the film.
Ryder last appeared in Darren Aronofsky's critically acclaimed supernatural thriller Black Swan opposite Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis. The film went on to receive Academy Award®, Golden Globe® and Screen Actors Guild Award® nominations.
Ryder also appeared in 2011 in the Universal comedy The Dilemma from director Ron Howard which co-starred Vince Vaughn, Kevin James and Jennifer Connelly. Previously, she was seen in Rebecca Miller's The Private Lives of Pippa Lee opposite Robin Wright, Alan Arkin, Keanu Reeves and Julianne Moore and in J Abrams' Star Trek starring Chris Pine, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban and Eric Bana.
As "Jo" in Gillian Armstrong's highly acclaimed version of the Louisa May Alcott classic, Little Women, Ryder received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. The previous year she was Oscar® nominated and won the Golden Globe and National Board of Review Awards for Best Supporting Actress, for her performance in Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence. Ryder also received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Richard Benjamin's Mermaids.
In 1999, Ryder starred in and served as Executive Producer on the critically acclaimed Girl, Interrupted, based on the bestselling memoir and directed by James Mangold. While the film marked Ryder's first feature as Executive Producer, she previously produced the documentary The Day My God Died, which depicted the human story behind the modern tragedy of child sex trafficking in India.
Noted for constantly challenging herself with each project, Ryder has worked with some of the most acclaimed directors in film today including Jean Pierre Jeunet's Alien: Resurrection, Woody Allen's Celebrity, Nicholas Hytner's The Crucible, Billie August's The House of the Spirits, Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula, Jim Jarmusch's Night on Earth, Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice, Michael Lehman's Heathers, Ben Stiller's Reality Bites, Al Pacino's Looking For Richard, Joan Chen's Autumn in New York, Janusz Kaminski's Lost Souls, Jocelyn Moorehouse's How To Make an American Quilt, David Wain'sThe Ten and Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly.
On television, Ryder lent her voice to both The Simpsons and Dr. Katz. She also narrated a Grammy-nominated album, Anne Frank: The Diary of A Young Girl. Additionally, Ryder appeared in the season finale episode of Strangers With Candy and on an episode of Friends. In 2011, she was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award, as the lead actress of the television movie When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story.
In 1997, Ryder was honored with Showest's Female Star of the Year, the Motion Picture Club's Female Star of the Year, as well as receiving an honorary degree from San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater. She served as a juror for the 51st Annual Cannes International Film Festival under Martin Scorsese and received the Peter J. Owens Award for "brilliance, independence and integrity" at the 2000 San Francisco Film Festival. Ryder was also honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Ryder served on the Board of Trustees to the American Indian College Fund, which helps Native Americans preserve and protect their culture through education. She has been very involved with the KlaasKids Foundation since the organization's inception in 1994.
Frank Grillo (Sarge) was most recently seen in Joe Carnahan's The Grey starring opposite Liam Neeson and in Gavin O'Connor's critically acclaimed, action drama Warrior opposite Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte. Grillo has also completed a number of high profile projects which will be released in 2012 including Lay the Favorite, directed by Stephen Frears, with Bruce Willis and Rebecca Hall; Gangster Squad, directed by Ruben Fleischer, with Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Emma Stone; and Disconnect, directed by Henry Alex Rubin, with Alexander Skarsgard and Jason Bateman. He recently wrapped the Luc Besson produced independent thriller Intersection.
Grillo's previous film credits include Wes Craven's My Soul To Take; Mother's Day with Jamie King and Rebecca De Mornay; Edge of Darkness with Mel Gibson and directed by Martin Campbell; Gavin O'Connor's Pride and Glory with Colin Farrell and Edward Norton; Steven Spielberg's Minority Report with Tom Cruise; and The Sweetest Thing with Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate.
Grillo television credits include starring roles on The Shield, Prison Break, The Gates, The Kill-Point with John Leguizamo, Battery Park with Elizabeth Perkins and Blind Justice with Ron Eldard, as well as guest star appearances on Law & Order: SVU, Without a Trace, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: NY, Las Vegas and The District.
The oldest of three children, Grillo grew up in New York City and spent his teen years in Rockland, New York. He migrated back to NYC to study and pursue acting where he eventually landed his first major role on the long running daytime drama Guiding Light. After three years, he left the soap to star in his first of many television pilots. He is an avid boxer and martial artist and sits on the board of Love our Children, a charity that educates against child abuse. Grillo lives in New York with his wife and three sons.
Mattie Broker, played by Izabela Vidovic, jumped right into the spotlight at the gentle age of 7 with her powerful, yet angelic voice, in musicals such as Mary Poppins, Camp Rock, Annie, Broadway Babes and Summer Finale. Her tenacious personality and her love of performing quickly expanded her into the world of film and television.
To date, Izabela's had Guest Starring television roles on acclaimed programs such as "Harry's Law" with Kathy Bates, Criminal Minds working opposite Mariana Klaveno, Raising Hope with Martha Plimpton and Lucas Neff, Up All Night with Christina Applegate, as well as Series Regular roles in two star-studded Fox pilots Little Brother working opposite John Stamos and Little In Common with Heather Graham.
She has also starred in numerous films including Deadtime Stories, Find Me and Christmas Angel with Kevin Sorbo, Della Reese and Teri Polo.
Izabela is not a stranger to the commercial world either. She currently has numerous running national commercials. Amongst many other special talents, is an honor's student, a piano player and can speak, read and write fluently in English, Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian.