Tagline: How did a crime with this many witnesses go so far?
“You ever have that dream: the one where you did something… You don’t know why, but you can never go back?” – Johnny Truelove
Versatile filmmaker Nick Cassavates directs an impressive group of both young and veteran performers in Alpha Dog—inspired by actual events—a film that follows three fateful days when the lives of a group of Southern California teens suddenly dead-ended.
In Alpha Dog, Cocky and headstrong Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch) is living the thug wannabe’s American dream as a mid-level drug dealer in a comfortable sector of the sprawling, privileged neighborhoods in Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Valley.
For Johnny and his crew of bros, wannabes and suck-ups—landlocked in their suburban existence and burdened with too much time—their existence is a heady blur of partying and looking for the next thrill. The model of the good life they imitate comes to them from rap music, video games and movies, and they spend their conscious hours copying the thug existence they idolize. Johnny has a wad of cash, a beautiful girl on each arm, a thriving business and plenty of weed to keep all his friends stoned. Young, flush with money and at the center of their self-created universe—life for Johnny and his friends doesn’t come with any consequences. Anything can happen. And over the course of three days under the hot California sun, something does.
Now, Cassavetes provides a startling and all-too-real look at contemporary youth culture with Alpha Dog, which tracks 72 hours in the lives of a group of Southern California teens—three days when everything suddenly spins out of control. The film features a powerful ensemble cast that includes Ben Foster, Shawn Hatosy, Emile Hirsch, Christopher Marqueette, Sharon Stone, Justin Timberlake, Anton Yelchin and Bruce Willis.
When raging hothead Jake (Foster) fails to come up with deal money he owes Truelove, the situation escalates into a battle for dominance that culminates with Johnny and his gang impulsively kidnapping Jake’s little brother, Zack (Yelchin). En route to Palm Springs, the group decides to keep the kid as a marker and slowly begins including him in their schedule, alternating between parties and slack time. With no parents in sight, they grow used to having him around. Under the temporary care of Johnny’s charismatic friend Frankie (Timberlake), Zack now enjoys an illicit summer fantasy of drinking, girls and new experiences.
Out in the desert, everyone soon begins to lose sight that Zack is a hostage, a “stolen boy,” and he can’t just be simply returned. As the hours turn into days, solutions to the Zack problem begin to dwindle. Bad decisions are followed by worse ones. Johnny’s dad (Willis) attempts to track down his son and convince him to return the hostage. With police called in by the boy’s distraught mother (Stone), the situation grows even more complex, and Johnny finds himself out of his league with no idea how to fix it. For Johnny, the line between playing a thug and becoming one soon blurs, and very real, very adult and very dire consequences result for everyone involved.
About the Production
In summer 2000—before the release of his films The Notebook and John Q—filmmaker Nick Cassavetes found himself putting pen to paper to outline a story about some of the types of teens who populated his daughter Gina’s high school. He pondered what would happen if a group of kids took a prank way too far, and made a series of decisions and missteps that would ensnare them in a situation from which they could not be extricated.
While researching the family life of some of these San Fernando, California, Valley kids, Cassavetes found their home dynamics to be surprising and particularly compelling. These stories would quickly find their way into a screenplay. “I expected to find a bunch of spoiled, disaffected rich kids raised by parents with a great sense of ennui, and that’s not what I found at all,” he explains. “What I ended up finding, which frankly I’m guilty of in my own life, was that it’s a complicated world now where both parents have jobs and get caught up in their own lives. The by-product of that is you find yourself ‘checking in’ with your children to find out if they’re okay, where they are going to be and if they need any money…instead of putting in the time and hanging out with them.”
Cassavetes continues, “That was the thing that impressed me the most and was the common thread among almost all of these people. Most of them were people I wouldn’t find great fault with. The problems were born out of letting all these children get together and make decisions without any kind of parental guidance or interference, and they could create the ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances and coincidences that would allow something to happen that never should have.”
After many discussions with colleagues and extensive research about the types who inhabit this world, Cassavetes would create the screenplay for Alpha Dog. He found one of the keys to unlocking the script lay in the way these alpha-teens spoke. “These are not really good kids that just lose their way for one weekend. I wanted to use language that I think the kids use, which is very offensive and almost an assault. But for me, that would give the film a type of genuineness. I didn’t want to back away from them being unsympathetic. Children can be ugly. They haven’t had their time to get their routines and their personalities in order. They have many rough edges, and I didn’t want to lose that.”
Veteran producer Sidney Kimmel, head of Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, found the project to be a great package for his company, which was built on a diverse offering of intriguing, offbeat stories helmed by talented filmmakers. He offers, “Nick comes from the best of Hollywood talent, and has made his own name with his actor-driven films and his acting work. He’s able to easily shift gears—moving from the romance of The Notebook to the gritty realism of Alpha Dog. I was extremely enthusiastic to get behind this picture. It’s an unflinching look at what can happen when a series of bad turns leads to even worse consequences. It’s a kind of cautionary tale about contemporary culture, but it doesn’t preach.”
With financing secured and preproduction under way, Cassavetes began the search for actors who could bring life to his characters.
Assembling the Pack: Casting the Film
Once the project began, Cassavetes brought in casting directors Nancy Green-Keyes and Matthew Barry, who began identifying the actors whose talents were the most appropriate for these roles. Fortunately, the process went quickly. The scripts went out and, save scheduling issues, there wasn’t a single actor who didn’t quickly sign on to be a part of the production.
Cassavetes explains his casting process: “I don’t audition people, because I don’t believe in it as a practice. I think that certain actors are great auditioners and kind of average actors, and certain actors are average auditioners but really great actors. What I’m looking for when I try to find someone for a part is someone who’s interested in their character, and someone that can communicate how they work, and we can share a kind of commonality in the way we work.
“I think there are only two types of actors,” he continues. “Those who can and those who can’t. And if you can, we’ll get there. I have made some mistakes before, and I’m sure that other people have made some mistakes with me. My style doesn’t necessarily work with everybody, however. Actually, there’s an adage around me—you want to be one of the first actors to meet me because I can’t stand refusing anybody. But I was also extremely lucky in casting Alpha Dog, because nearly almost all of the first people I saw for the parts were the perfect people to play them.”
The role of egomaniacal ringleader Johnny Truelove went to young up-andcoming actor Emile Hirsch, who appeared in the films Lords of Dogtown, The Girl Next Door, The Emperor’s Club and The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys. “Emile read the script and loved it,” recalls Cassavetes. “He said he had to do the part and after meeting him, I thought he would be a great Johnny Truelove.
“My first reaction to the script was how great the drama was,” remembers Hirsch. “The script made my heart pound. It took me into the world of these kids and made me ask myself what I would do in that situation. It’s a powerful script that sucks you into a scary, dark abyss and forces you to find your way out.”
Hirsch knew that tackling the role with such depth would be a great exercise as an actor. “My character has a really wild arc,” he explains. “In the beginning, Johnny is extremely cocky and is in full control of his world. By the end, he has lost everything he has. The transition makes him lose his spine and turns him into a little boy, so there’s a lot of humility in the role.”
For the role of Sonny Truelove, the enigmatic father to Johnny and businessman operating on the outskirts of the law, the filmmakers had the opportunity to work with veteran actor Bruce Willis.
Cassavetes had hoped that Willis would be available and interested in portraying Sonny, and he had forwarded a copy of the script to the actor’s agent. “We weren’t even sure we had it in the budget, but it was still something we really hoped for.” Willis signed on and proved to be a fiercely dedicated presence, on-set and off.
The writer / director remembers, “During preproduction, Bruce ended up doing as much research as practically anybody in the film, for a part that he could have easily walked through. He understood his part very well. He was the champion of this film.”
Sidney Kimmel offers, “To have such an amazing cast with some of the brightest talent coming up, along with powerhouse veterans like Bruce Willis and Sharon Stone, is a testament to the power of this story.”
For Willis, the attraction was in the mix of filmmaker, subject and cast. He says, “The character of Sonny is one that really drew me in. He has developed this amazing philosophy about life and family and totally believes in his own truth. Actually, because of what he was, what he passed down to his son, he contributed to what ended up happening. When an alpha dog has a son, he raises him to be one as well—some kind of pack-mentality rule. Nick’s script told the story with razor accuracy, but in these amazing, observant strokes.”
The type of father-son relationship between Sonny and Johnny lays the moralistic framework for the choices that Johnny makes in lifestyle and ethics, raising questions about the extent of parental influence and the resulting outcome of events. “Sonny is the ultimate alpha dog and Johnny learned everything from him,” comments Hirsch. “In terms of parenting, it’s not that Johnny’s been neglected so much as equipped with bazookas when all other kids are not.”
After locking in Hirsch and Willis for Johnny and Sonny Truelove, the filmmakers set out to find a group of talented young actors to create Johnny’s gang. After initially meeting Justin Timberlake for his prior film The Notebook, Cassavetes knew the musician/actor would be a perfect fit for the role of charismatic, likable Frankie Ballenbacher. “To me, the toughest character to embody in the story is Frankie, because he befriends the kid and allows these events to happen,” explains Cassavetes. “I told Justin that I wanted him to do it, and he called me back a few seconds later and said he was in.”
“Nick is an incredible writer, and after reading the script I thought this was a story that people should hear,” remembers Timberlake. “It’s not just about gangs, drugs or bad kids, it’s about family and parenting, or lack thereof. In essence, the story is about what one small situation can escalate into when you’re ignorant to the possibilities and the consequences.”
Timberlake was attracted not only to the colorful character and inherent humor of Frankie, but also the ethical questions the situation presented. “Frankie is probably the biggest smack talker in the group, so if that’s not fun to play, then I don’t know what is,” explains Timberlake. “I also think that of all the characters in Johnny’s crew, Frankie probably has the most heart and doesn’t think it’s going to go as far as it does, and that’s what wins it for me.”
For the role of Elvis Schmidt, the member of Johnny’s crew who remains somewhat of an outsider and carries through on the order to kill Zack Mazursky, Cassavetes chose actor Shawn Hatosy, whom he directed in John Q. “Elvis is an extremely challenging part to play and I knew that I needed someone who wasn’t just good, but was sensational,” says Cassavetes.
“Nick is a dear friend and an amazing talent and I’ll take advantage of any opportunity to work with him,” explains Hatosy. “On top of that, it just so happens that he wrote an amazing script and I think it’s a story that needs to be told.”
Hatosy’s character exists at the bottom of the hierarchy in Johnny’s gang and endures unlimited abuse and indentured servitude to Johnny over a debt. With multiple siblings in jail and having grown up without a father figure, Elvis looks to Johnny as a brother and Sonny as a father. “I don’t think Elvis sees himself the way everybody else sees him—he sees himself as an equal to the group,” comments Hatosy. “When there’s a problem and Johnny needs him to step in, Elvis feels like he is not only working off his debt to Johnny, but being the hero.”
Actor Ben Foster was brought in by casting agents for the role of Jake Mazursky, the intense tweaker who clashes with Johnny and sets the destructive wheels of the story in motion. “I met Ben once and told him then that he had the part,” recalls the director. “He asked me if I wanted him to read, and I told him that it wasn’t necessary. I knew from Ben’s work that he would bring even more to Jake than what I had written.”
“The aspect of Nick’s script that I responded to the most was that I cared about the characters,” recalls Foster. “These aren’t exactly likable people, but they’re kids, and it’s easy to forget that. They are trying to figure out the difference between being men and playing gangster, and not realizing that the line between playing and becoming is really thin.”
“Typically, you would cast someone bigger in this type of role,” reflects Cassavetes. “Ben is slight, and also happens to be an amazing actor. But I thought it was great to go against somewhat stereotypical thinking, and the results are pretty frightening. All the credit should go to Ben, because he came in knowing what part he wanted to play. He knew the attack he wanted to take, and it worked.”
Foster knew that repeat offender Jake would be a fun character to inhabit and would provide great contrast to Johnny’s assumed (and fairly hollow) gangster tendencies. “Jake has been a lot of fun to play, very dark, but fun,” observes Foster. “He has a crystal meth addiction and when he says he’s going to break your skull, he probably will. While Johnny’s gang does mostly play-pretend gang violence, Jake’s lifestyle is actually legitimate in the sense that he isn’t just posturing; he is what he seems to be.
When Johnny and Jake meet and butt heads, it’s like two different worlds colliding.” When the two egos collide, the situation escalates quickly, and neither Johnny nor Jake is willing to back down. While Johnny wouldn’t normally respond so extremely to another member of his crew if challenged, he knows that if he weakens his stance—even slightly—to Jake that Jake will walk all over him. “When Jake starts to cause trouble, Johnny takes a moment to consider who he’s dealing with,” explains Hirsch. “He makes the separation between Jake and the other guys and handles the situation a little differently and with greater force.”
That clash sets off a domino chain of events, an arms race of unchecked macho wills. After the latest retaliatory episode, Johnny is presented with an opportunity and makes an on-the-spot (and unwise) decision without a thought to long-term consequences. While on their way to a party in the desert, Johnny, Frankie and friend Tiko spot Jake’s younger brother Zack—who has just fled his home rather than face another fight with his parents—and, on a whim, they decide to kidnap him as a marker for Jake until money due is paid.
For the role of young and impressionable Zack, Nick Cassavetes chose young star on the rise Anton Yelchin, who, at age 17, already has an extensive list of film and television credits to his name.
“Anton is able to bring all of the conflicting emotions of Zack—his need to please, his need for independence, his rejection of his upbringing, his devotion to his brother. A lot of the female characters tend to treat him like a lost puppy, but he’s not that simple. He’s got bite, but he’s at odds with where he is in his life, confused with no longer being a kid but not yet a man. Anton conveys all of that beautifully,” comments Cassavetes.
While under the care of Frankie, Zack is treated to a few days of living the lifestyle of those in Johnny’s gang. He casually mingles with their friends, enjoys the pleasures of their female companions and partakes in their drinking and drug use. Without believing that he is truly in danger, Zack attempts to become accepted by his abductors and eventually feels like he is a part of their inner circle.
“When Zack gets kidnapped, he seeks the approval of these guys because he wants away from his parents and wants to help his brother, and he doesn’t mind hanging out with them,” explains Yelchin. “Because of his general good nature, he trusts that they wouldn’t do him any harm and eventually, he believes he is becoming friends with them.”
While on the surface Zack seems to have stable, loving and supportive parents, their heightened involvement in his life and their desire for him not to follow in his elder brother’s footsteps actually has the opposite effect—it leads to his propensity to rebel.
“Zack’s mother wants to do the right thing by her kid but can come off as a control freak, and you can’t really blame him for wanting her to lay off,” says Yelchin. “While it’s easy to say that not being a part of your kid’s life is poor parenting, the way in which you are involved is equally as important.”
For the role of Zack’s mother, Olivia Mazursky, Cassavetes knew he had to find a performer who could tackle the character’s great emotional depth and despair. He found her in accomplished actor Sharon Stone. “While writing the script, I wasn’t thinking about whom I was going to cast. The character is an Earth mother who is a little ‘too much,’ and I knew it was something that Sharon might do. After Sharon signed on, we had the building blocks of what we were going to do.”
Stone comments that she was familiar with Cassavetes’ work, both of them having “grown up in the Hollywood community,” and found him to be an extremely interesting and “superbly gifted filmmaker. He sent me this script with a letter that asked me to look at this part which wasn’t very big, but he used the word ‘fulcrum’—she’s a fulcrum in the piece.”
“Sharon was one of the first actors to sign on to the project,” recalls producer Sidney Kimmel. “She brought her trademark intensity, professionalism and gutsy dedication to her portrayal of this wounded woman battling her own demons.” Indeed, Stone had to endure several hours in makeup for a particular sequence, exemplifying her level of commitment to the project.
For Stone, the role of Olivia resonated on many levels, and provided her with a multilayered character that she relished bringing to life. “From the moment I read the script, I looked at this part from two perspectives—from the perspective of a grown woman who is a parent, and from the perspective of a teenager , having grown up knowing people like this and having struggled through the experience of being put in difficult situations as a teenager. Also, it’s an incredible honor and journey to be able to play someone like her and tell a story like this. I knew we were in good hands with Nick and that he would bring a great deal of integrity.”
Like Willis, Stone immersed herself in the world of the troubled mother. She relates, “During my research to play Olivia, I asked myself every horrific, tough, real question I needed to ask to play this part.”
The filmmakers rounded out their large acting ensemble with other talents that include Christopher Marquette as good-natured slacker Keith; Olivia Wilde as Johnny’s girlfriend, Angela; Lukas Haas as Buzz, an old school friend of Johnny’s; Amanda Seyfried as Julie, who provides Zack with his first real fling; Harry Dean Stanton as Sonny’s compatriot, Cosmo; Dominique Swain as Susan, whose conscience eventually forces her into action; Alan Thicke as Angela’s father, Douglas; David Thornton as Ben and Zack’s father, Butch; and Heather Wahlquist as Ben’s girlfriend, Wanda.
Designing the Despicable: Preparation for and Shooting of Alpha Dog
Before production began, in true Cassavetes fashion, the director explored an unconventional approach to preparing the actors for their roles. Instead of the customary scene rehearsals in the weeks leading up to the start of principal photography, the young performers were put through a fitness program that involved intense workouts and a very strict diet, all of which were supervised by the director’s brother, Frank.
The characters in Alpha Dog have known each other for a while, having gone to school together and lived in the same neighborhood since early childhood. The challenge for their creator, then, was how to replicate that sense of camaraderie born out of years of being together. “They have a certain ease and familiarity with each other, and how do you direct that? I don’t happen to believe that blood is thicker than water—that if you’re stuck in the same house with somebody it gives you a proper amount of time to develop a deep relationship with that person. I think that’s why we’re close to our parents, our brothers and sisters, because we’ve been forced to live with them…it’s shared misery.
And I had to think of a way to make these kids ‘miserable’ together. “So I got them all to come to this house in the [San Fernando] Valley at the crack of dawn to start training. And a little bit in, they started getting into it. Pretty soon they were cracking jokes and challenging each other, and even showing up 15 minutes early to the sessions—and this was already really early in the morning. And I knew I had them when they called and told me that they wouldn’t do any more unless I came, too. So I dragged my fat, old ass to training every day. And they laughed at me when I couldn’t do some of the stuff, and I got to laugh at them, also. Pretty soon, I realized that we would move on to set together as a unit, as a pack. They would trust me. I would trust them.”
This process created a bond among the actors that allowed them to organically explore their characters and helped to create an environment of familiarity. “I don’t know if Nick had a clear plan for what he wanted to accomplish with the preparation process, but I think it was more instinctual,” explains Foster. “We ended up cutting out the world and creating our own little subculture away from where we live. It was like forming a little cult where you create a different language and environment that really brings everyone together.
“Outside of Nick just wanting to torture us, what that process did was create a strong sense of who we were with each other, of camaraderie,” adds Timberlake. “It’s interesting because when characters butt heads in a script, actors tend to act that way towards each other in real life. I think, however, that the closer you get to someone before shooting, the easier it is to have conflict onscreen, because you feel comfortable with each other. Although the process was grueling, it definitely heightened our performances.”
In addition to the group’s physical preparation process, the actors were provided with materials with which to familiarize themselves to help them gain understanding of the types of people who informed Cassavetes’ development of their characters. Dealing with a story as complex as Alpha Dog, actors are confronted with a particular challenge—just how much real life is bled into the on-screen character? “I thought long and hard about how to create the character Frankie,” recalls Timberlake. “I took the opportunity to really develop my own character from Nick’s words.”
Actress Olivia Wilde, who plays Johnny’s thrill-seeking girlfriend, Angela, found it challenging to play a character lacking a great deal of ethical merit. “What I heard around the set is that a lot of people felt a little uncomfortable playing these characters, because they didn’t necessarily like them. As an actor, you get used to playing characters that you have some empathy for, that you can really understand and might even have a real connection with. On this film, there were days when I felt a little dirty, having to make these people human to allow the audiences to get closer to them.”
Although the material was challenging and schedule grueling, the actors found inspiration in each other. “Nick put together a cast of workhorses and nothing inspires competition, excitement or pleasure like knowing that people are coming to the table with their guns loaded,” says Ben Foster.
“The cast is a plethora of very hungry actors who love the process,” explains Timberlake. “Everyone brought their A-game, but that’s what Nick brings out of you. He creates an environment where you feel extremely comfortable and throw it all out on the table. He gets different options from you and then decides what’s best in the edit.”
All in the ensemble laud Cassavetes for his thorough knowledge, commitment and creativity during the process. “Nick is a brilliant writer/director and really knows how to communicate with actors and everyone on the set,” says producer Chuck Pacheco. “It’s amazing to watch him go through the process of writing the script and watch it develop into that movie that was originally in his head.”
Timberlake agrees that Cassavetes’ prior acting experience offers a depth of understanding not always present when working with other directors. “Nick’s right there with us in the scene and the fact that he’s had experience in front of the camera helps tremendously, because he knows how to relay the message to the actor.
“He’s a very dynamic director and is all heart,” continues Timberlake. “Nick’s not about being a diplomat—he’s an emotional director, and I respond to that. He’s also very honest and admits when he doesn’t know something and if you have something better, he allows you to bring it out. He makes you feel comfortable; nothing is taboo.”
“Nick doesn’t work from angst or bloodletting,” says Foster. “He sets the tone for joyful creating, which says that we can come into work and have a really good time, but also maintain a focus and make something that has value.”
To help create the backdrop of Alpha Dog, Cassavetes enlisted cinematographer Robert Fraisse, with whom he had worked on The Notebook and whose extensive resume boasts such films as Enemy at the Gates, Ronin and Hotel Rwanda. The filmmaker’s choice of Fraisse blatantly knocks out the assumption that such a project as Alpha Dog—with its unflinching look at a dark and troubling story—necessarily “look the part,” replete with indie-type grittiness and feel. The choice of an award-winning cinematographer (who received worldwide attention for his lush photography that added gloss and incandescent heat to L’Amant, a story of forbidden love set in 1929 French colonial Vietnam) would go miles toward accomplishing this.
Explains Cassavetes: “Just as this world is seductive to the participants, we wanted the film to also look seductive. Robert really got into the script and had definite ideas that synched with ours.”
However, in keeping with the indie spirit that informed a great deal of Alpha Dog, production utilized a panoply of locations in Southern California, in and around the San Fernando Valley and greater Los Angeles. They also traveled to the desert and the resort community of Palm Springs, and shot in the Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park near Agua Dulce Spring, California.
While avoiding an overtly philosophical or judgmental tone, Alpha Dog touches on many larger themes present in American society and youth culture. “The film is about the new suburban, white, middle-class American dream of young people…which seems to be wanting to be gangster,” observes Olivia Wilde. “There’s a lack of identity that seems prevalent in a world where kids went to good schools but had their eyes closed. A lot of these kids had good parents, but also had a lot of freedom and didn’t know what to do with it.”
“America, by nature, is about counter-culture and our counter-culture heroes are criminals, the guys on the outside,” argues Cassavetes. “Our young look up to and try to emulate criminal culture. The kids take on all the affectations of being those types of people, even though they’re not, and what can happen is one day they have to become that. When you ‘talk the talk’ and halfway believe you are something that you’re not, at some time, you will have to back it up to prove yourself. That’s where the trouble begins. If you have a gun in your hand and someone calls you out, you just might have to use it. You hear white American kids talk about these things—they listen to music that introduces them to the criminal culture, their language and violence—and after a while, it becomes a part of who they are.”
The combination of an accomplished group of actors and a steadfast dedication to an honesty in storytelling from a passionate writer/director give Alpha Dog an unexpected poignancy, sandwiched between an unflinching look at a tough story. “I think audiences should expect a really emotional film,” says Hirsch. “The film highlights everything going on in these kids’ lives at the time, and it’s quite ridiculous at some points; the jokes are totally wild and crude. However, there’s a certain sensitivity and it reminds you that these characters really are just kids.”
“I don’t think this film is pointing the finger at America, because everybody has the right to their own family and its dynamics,” reflects Timberlake. “Everybody was young once and thought they were indestructible. As a young person, it never crosses your mind that life is delicate, but you eventually find this out through your own experiences. At the end of the day, you realize that these characters are not simply just bad kids. The story is a perfect example of ignorance, naiveté and not fully understanding the consequences of life and death.”
But for writer/director Cassavetes, the sad occurrences detailed in Alpha Dog don’t dissolve into easy answers, no matter how scrutinizing his film might look. He closes, “The experience for me from making this movie is to try to understand how this could happen.”
Stone echoes the sentiments of the cast and crew as she encapsulates the “tragic flaw” at the heart of Alpha Dog: “Standing up and saying, ‘This is my mistake; this is what I did—now what can be done to fix it?’ This is part of being the best human you can be. We’re not perfect. We’re going to fail small, and we’re going to fail big. But I think a lot of people don’t learn this. They don’t learn it from their parents, their community, their job. We learn fear of failure—one mistake and you’re out. And I think this is a lot of what happened to those kids in the story. They made this mistake of taking this kid, and this is the consequence. You see them acting like others that they’ve seen in society. But in truth, they are kids. You see them vacillating between being children and acting out like bad adults—and they don’t have the tools to deal, so they choose a truly horrendous way out of an already dreadful situation.”
Production notes provided by Universal Pictures.
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Justin Timberlake, Bruce Willis, Sharon Stone, Emile Hirsch, Anthon Yelchin
Directed by: Nick Cassavetes
Screenplay by: Nick Cassavetes
Release Date: January 12th, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive drug use and language, strong violence, sexuality, nudity.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Box Office Totals
Domestic: $15,309,602 (48.4%)
Foreign: $16,317,180 (51.6%)
Total: $31,626,782 (Worldwide)