The Big Empty - Locking in the Actors

Last Update: 13 November 2003
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Jon Favreau has worked with many first-time directors. A talented
director in his own right, Favreau has a good eye for material and a
sense for what it takes to be a good director and make a good movie. "I
usually read a script until I don't like it," says Favreau. "After 12
pages of The Big Empty, I called my agent and said 'I want to meet this
"Steve's script is so well written," he continues. "It's all on the
page. The dialogue is unique and compelling and he drew on the noir
genre, turned it on its ear a little, and threw in a bit of a sci-fi
feel. I don't do parts like this very often, but this is such a
stylized piece and it has everything I like, especially in an
independent film. And on top of all of that, John Person is who I would
be if I hadn't gotten a break!"
"Jon called me after he read the script," adds Gregg Daniel. "As soon
as he said 'It's the first script I've read that I thought I wrote
myself,' I knew then that we had our lead!"
Steve Anderson's passionate determination to bring his vision to the
screen, coupled with his talented writing, spoke to everyone who read
the script. The caliber of actors he was able to attract is true
testament to this talent.
Kelsey Grammer was drawn to both the provocative style and mystery of
the story and the independent spirit of the filmmakers. "I don't have a
lot of time to do films," says the star of television's top rated
"Frasier." "I enjoy the pioneer spirit that comes with making an
independent film: everyone's there for the right reasons and has a
passion for what they are doing. I feel obligated to try different
things once in a while and shake it up a little. For me, Agent Banks is
my rendition of Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive. He is this relentless,
strange man who pursues his target and has a bit of a sense of humor
about what he's doing. He's a bit of a freak, but he fits into this
freaky little world Steve Anderson has created so well."
Daryl Hannah, who portrays the sexy and grounded Stella, agrees. "With
indie films, everyone is there because they want to be there, not just
for the paycheck. The film becomes more of a labor of love and because
of that there's always a better energy on set, which ultimately
translates onto the screen."
Joey Lauren Adams portrays Grace, the sweet girl-next-door (literally).
Her experience with the first-time director was one she looks back upon
fondly. "I have a lot of respect for Steve as both a writer and
director," says the actress. "I long to work with directors who give
good direction that I've not thought of. He has a great way of coming
up with direction that's not the obvious choice. I would actually get
excited to do the next take with his direction. That doesn't happen to
me a lot. For example, there is a scene when Cowboy is holding a gun to
my head and my initial inclination was to turn away from the gun
because I was afraid. But Steve came up to me and said 'turn towards
the gun.' So I turned toward the gun and it made it creepier. It sent
out a subliminal message about Cowboy, and how his character is so
charismatic and can pull you in. The scene was so much better for that
direction. Steve actually directs as though he's acted before."
Having recently done a film with Jon Favreau (Made), Bud Cort quickly
came on board as the strange neighbor, Neely. For Cort, the opportunity
to work with Favreau again was appealing, but ultimately the script is
what drew him in. "I loved the darkly funny, incredible dialogue in
this script," he says. "It would have been easy to go overboard on
something like this, so the trick was to keep balance. But I work
backwards from the text and the words were there, so I took a little
from a few neighbors I've had over the years in New York, worked them
into Steve's words and came up with Neely.
"Neely is a guy on a mission," the actor continues. "He's a bit of a
dirt bag and a lower level messenger, but he's aspiring to greatness."

Press Notes Main Page
Soundtrack Info 
About the Production
Locking in the Actors
Let's Put Baker on the Map!
Subliminally Speaking
About the Cast
- Jon Favreau
- Rachael Leigh Cook
- Kelsey Grammer
- Sean Bean
- Daryl Hannah
- Adam Beach
- Joey Lauren Adams
- Melora Walters
- Jon Gries
- Bud Cort
- Gary Farmer
- Brent Briscoe
 About the Filmmakers
- Steve Anderson (Director)
- Doug Mankoff (Producer)
- Gregg L. Daniel (Producer)
- Andrew Spaulding (Producer)
- Keith Resnick (Producer)
- Steve Bickel (Executive Producer)
- Jeffrey Kramer (Executive Producer)
- Steven G. Kaplan (Executive Producer)
- Peter Wetherell (Executive Producer)
- Jory Weitz (Casting Director)
- Scott Scalise (Film Editor)
- Aaron Osborne (Production Designer)
- Chris Manley (Director of Photography)
- Brian Tyler (Music Composer)
- Dondi Bastone (Music Supervisor)
- Kristin M. Burke (Costume Designer)


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