The hallowed halls of the Natural History Museum are lined with the most amazing things--wild-eyed prehistoric creatures, fierce ancient warriors, long lost tribes, African animals and history's legendary heroes--all frozen forever in time. Or... are they? In the action-adventure-comedy, NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM, the brand new night guard at the Natural History Museum is about to discover that when the visitors go home at the end of the day, the real adventure begins--as the museum's stuffed, waxed and well-preserved residents come out to play.
The fantastical adventure kicks off when Larry Daley (BEN STILLER), a down-and-out dreamer whose imaginative ideas have never paid off, finds himself in desperate need of a job. Larry has always believed he was destined for big things. But he has no idea just how literally gargantuan and hairy a challenge he will face when he grudgingly accepts the supposedly menial graveyard shift as a security guard at the Natural History Museum. On his very first night on the job, Larry is handed an over-sized flashlight and a dog-eared instruction manual, then left all alone in the eerily quiet, cavernous museum. At least, he thinks he's alone.
But wait, what's that noise? To his utter astonishment and disbelief, Larry watches in shock and awe as, one by one, the primeval beasts and storied icons that surround him stir magically to life--and total havoc ensues. Now, as Tyrannosaurus Rex and Attila the Hun carve a swath of destruction through the marble corridors, and lions and monkeys prowl the fragile exhibits, Larry is at a loss as to how to get the museum back under control. At his wits' end, Larry must recruit the help of historical heavyweight Teddy Roosevelt (ROBIN WILLIAMS) just to survive the night. Facing the possibility of losing his job and letting down his son Nick yet again, Larry must wage an incredible battle to save the museum, hoping to become at last the bold, adventurous dad he's always wanted to be. The man who's been forever waiting for his moment of greatness--just found it.
Entering the Museum:
The Fantasy Begins
At the heart of NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM is an imagination-tickling dream that anyone who's ever wandered through a museum in wide-eyed awe has secretly harbored: that outrageous fantasy in which the stuffed beasts and molded statues of the ancient past suddenly burst their seams and bust out of their exhibits to come fully to life in the here and now.
"I think most of us have had that experience where you walk by a statue in a museum and you could swear that you saw its eyes follow you," says the film's director Shawn Levy. "It's a little spooky and it's also very cool to imagine what would really happen if that came true – and, as a filmmaker, it's exactly the kind of wild, incredible 'what if' that is completely impossible to resist."
Right from the beginning, the idea behind NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM proved impossible to resist. It was all sparked when Croatian illustrator Milan Trenc first drew a children's storybook in which a brand new night guard at the Natural History Museum in New York dozes off only to discover that one of the towering dinosaur skeletons he's supposed to be protecting has mysteriously wandered away! Suddenly, the guard discovers he is surrounded by talking, growling and prowling statues, which turn the place upside down. With its spirited humor and enchanting tale of an ordinary man faced with wrangling the greatest legends of the past, the story became a family favorite.
It also seemed destined for the movies--and the book was soon optioned by Fox, with Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan of 1492 Pictures attached to produce, and 1492's Mark Radcliffe attached to executive produce. The trio of filmmakers, who would later merge contemporary humor and cutting-edge effects into modern adventure classics with the Harry Potter series of films, envisioned an expanded story for NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM.
When Fox executives showed the book to screenwriters Thomas Lennon & Robert Ben Garant--who came to the fore as partners with the runaway television hit "Reno 911" (and the upcoming film version Reno 911!: Miami)--the duo could barely contain themselves. "We literally leapt from our seats," says Lennon. "I mean, we're both from New York and we basically spent our boyhoods roaming the Natural History Museum. We could draw you a map from memory, that's how much we loved spending time there. It was simply the coolest place on earth."
Adds Garant: "The thing that really grabbed us is that we both had the same dream as kids of hiding out in the museum and getting a chance to see what happens in there after it closes. I think lots of kids, not to mention plenty of adults, have had that same dream. To be there alone in the dark with all those legends of history and all those humongous creatures would be the ultimate adventure."
Inspired by these boyhood memories, the ideas came fast and furious to Lennon & Garant. "The first thing we needed to figure out is where this spell has come from that is bringing all the museum's exhibits to life," recalls Lennon. "We were both in complete awe of the Egyptian Hall at the Met in New York and since Egyptians were very into keeping things alive forever, it suddenly made sense that it all began with an ancient Egyptian slate and the age-old wish for eternal youth."
As they wrote, the core of the story became the character of Larry Daley, who developed into an inveterate dreamer and schemer, unable to get even one of his endless slate of overly ambitious projects off the ground. More importantly, Larry is also a wanna-be stellar dad who takes the night guard job in the hopes of never disappointing his son again. "Larry is that guy I think we all know who believes in his dreams but doesn't entirely believe in himself," Garant explains. "He's got these colossal ideas in his head all the time, but he's never had the opportunity to prove to himself or his family that he can actually make something succeed--and he's not sure he can, until now."
With the characters set into motion, Lennon & Garant really started to have a blast, as they began to figure exactly who and what Larry might encounter as his first night on the job transforms from dull to downright mind-boggling. From the Hall of Civilizations to the American Railroad Dioramas, there were myriad possibilities. "We started off by making a list of all of our very favorite things from all our favorite museums--from the giant Easter Island heads to the dioramas," says Lennon. "We also knew we wanted Teddy Roosevelt to be a major character because the Natural History Museum in New York is lined with quotes from him and you really feel the spirit of the man in there--not to mention that he himself, as a famous naturalist, wrangled some of the exhibits in there!" Roosevelt's famous words of wisdom--such as "It's hard to fail but it's worse never to have tried to succeed"--became further inspiration for the themes underlying the entire story.
The screenwriters also engaged in an ongoing, typically boyish debate over which creatures in the museum would prove most fearsome once awakened--and had fun dashing any pre-conceived notions in that department. Notes Garant: "We decided the biggest things in the museum might turn out to be shockingly fun-loving, while the scariest of all are some of the smallest creatures!"
Along the way, Lennon & Garant refused to limit their writing in any way. "We didn't even think about if we were writing for kids or for adults--all we cared about was writing a fun, action-packed movie that everyone would love," sums up Lennon.
The results especially excited Shawn Levy, the director who has been behind some of the last decade's biggest comedy hits, yet who, ironically, had been looking for a "quieter" film when he was offered the opportunity to take the helm of NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. The screenplay soon convinced him otherwise. "To me, what was so exciting was the story's blend of heart, humor and spectacle all in one big adventure," he says. "The film, first and foremost, tells a great story, but with a level of visual spectacle that goes way beyond what you'd expect from a typical comedy and way more than any comedy I've ever done."
Levy found himself not only dazzled by the audacious effects sequences but moved by the plight of Larry Daley--who, at rock bottom, is simply a dad doing his bumbling and blundering best to be a hero to his son. "I think if the story were only wild and funny and filled with bells and whistles and visual effects it would miss part of the point," notes Levy. "What I loved about NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM is that it was clearly going to be all those things but it was also very much about the heart of this character: a father who discovers that the one great moment he has been waiting for all his life--and was always telling his son was coming--has finally arrived."
Levy envisioned the film's style as realistic, within the context of a big film with fantastical elements. "It sounds like a weird thing to say about a movie in which museum exhibits come to life, but because the whole premise is so wildly surreal, I felt that everything around that premise should feel totally real--from the performances to the photography to the digital effects," he explains. "I think the best fantasies have that kind of grounding in reality. Especially in this case, the fun was going to be in allowing the audience to really and truly believe a museum could lead a whole other life by night. So that's what we set out to do."
The New Night Guard:
Ben Stiller is Larry Daley
Right off the bat, the filmmakers knew they wanted to cast Ben Stiller in lead role of the hapless, yet ultimately heroic, new night guard Larry Daley. Not only is Stiller one of today's most popular comedic stars, but in films ranging from There's Something About Mary to Meet The Parents, Stiller has established a reputation for embodying characters facing circumstances that are outrageously stacked against them. His skill at depicting both the humor and heartbreak of the ultimate common man who must break the mold made him a perfect match for Larry Daley.
"Larry is a guy who never really got his act together, who is continually coming up with another get-rich-quick idea that just doesn't work," explains Stiller. "He's also worried about losing his connection to his son because his wife is about to get re-married. Everything is kind of coming to head and now, right before Christmas, he has to try to find a job. Of course, there's just one job available: night guard at the Natural History Museum. He thinks it's going to be the worst job imaginable but it turns out to be the most incredible thing that's ever happened to him."
From the minute he read the script, Stiller knew he wanted to be part of Larry's grand adventure. "I just loved the ideas behind it," he says. "I grew up about five blocks from the Natural History Museum and as a kid it had this really magical aura about it. It's not just paintings on the wall but it's where you can see all the very coolest things that ever existed--lions and whales and Egyptians and dinosaurs--in one place. So the concept of everything coming to life in there at night couldn't have been more appealing and exciting. It was something I felt I'd love to see."
It was also something new for Stiller, whose comedy has never strayed into such a magical zone before. "I've never had a chance to work in a movie that was this fantastical before, where you have to sort of turn up the 'fantastical meter,'" he notes. "But seriously, in order to make the fantasy work, I think you have to keep it very real so that there's always an emotional connection to the characters. It's that reality that allows you to believe in the magic of Larry getting to encounter all these characters and creatures from the long ago past. For me, the key was to just jump into the story and commit completely to the idea that this is really happening."
To help Stiller dive head-first into Larry's implausible reality, especially in scenes where he would be interacting with wholly digital creations, director Shawn Levy did what he could to contribute--often by pretending he himself was some of the museum's inanimate creatures come to life! "There's literally embarrassing, humiliating footage of me with fake Tyrannosaurus talons saying "Ra-ahh" and chasing Ben down a hallway to get a realistic reaction," Levy admits. "Then they'd erase me in the computer and put in the dinosaur. And that's how we spent our days on this film."
Adds Stiller: "I don't know if Shawn worked in a dance troupe or a mime company or an animal training facility, but he seemed to have a real affinity for playing off-camera animals--he had me quite scared!"
Indeed, there were myriad physical challenges for Stiller, many of which unfolded during his various and increasingly hilarious forms of running for his life. "Running was huge in Ben's role but he did wind up in great shape," laughs Levy. But whether Stiller was running from lions, Huns and miniature soldiers, or confessing his existential angst to Robin Williams's Teddy Roosevelt, or hoping to show his son just how cool his new job could be, Levy found that the comic star was constantly pushing the bar--and the humor level. "The thing about Ben, and I really admire this," says the director, "is that he is always looking for something better: a better performance, a better way of saying the line, a better nuance. So there was always a lot of improvising on the set--and hence, there was also a lot of Ben and the other actors cracking each other up!"
For Stiller, the key, he says, was keeping that childlike sense of wonder that hits people of all ages in a museum, at the heart of his performance--something that came easily to him. "I think all adults have a kid buried deep inside somewhere, but for some people it's closer to the surface--for me, my inner child is stuck in my throat," he deadpans. "But it's that spirit that drew me to this film."
The Old Night Guards:
Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney and Bill Cobbs Form A Trio of Trouble
When Larry Daley takes the new night guard position at the Natural History Museum, he replaces a trio of guards who appear to themselves be ancient relics--yet prove to have their own diabolical agenda. To bring the colorful threesome of Cecil, Gus and Reginald to life, the filmmakers ultimately chose three comic actors who have become legends in their own right: the inimitable Dick Van Dyke, the beloved Mickey Rooney and the prolific star of stage, television and screen Bill Cobbs.
Casting the octogenarian and septuagenarian stars was a blast for Shawn Levy. "I had the great fortune of auditioning pretty much every exceptional actor over 65," he recalls. "It was amazing--I mean Dick Van Dyke actually came in for an audition. He doesn't have to audition but he and Mickey Rooney and Bill Cobbs all came in and really showed what they could do with the material."
Levy continues: "Once I saw those three actors together I knew it was going to be an embarrassment of riches having them play these characters. Dick Van Dyke with his svelte, debonair quality; Mickey with his charming, 'non-tall' quality and Bill, who has an enigmatic depth, worked so well together and truly embodied the mischievous spirit of Cecil, Gus and Reginald."
Dick Van Dyke, who in addition to being one of the world's most popular comedians, is also indelibly entwined with such family film classics as Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Immediately enchanted by the story, Van Dyke was excited to take on the role of Cecil, the former head night guard who helps to recruit and "train" Larry Daley. "With all of the dinosaurs and Huns and animals, I thought it would be a riot," Van Dyke says. "When I read the script I knew it was that rare thing: a great all-audience film. So I said, I've got to be a part of this. It's one of those stories I can't wait for my own grandkids to see. And between Mickey Rooney and Bill Cobbs, we're all about the same vintage, so we had great chemistry as these old guys willing to do anything to be young again."
For Ben Stiller, getting the chance to star with, and get duped by, Van Dyke was a thrill. "I think Dick really does have an Egyptian tablet at home that's the fountain of youth because he's like twice my age and I have about half his energy," Stiller quips. "He's a great and funny actor who really knows his stuff so it was such a pleasure to watch him work."
As for Mickey Rooney, Stiller says: "I never thought I'd get a chance to work with the great Mickey Rooney--let alone be beat up by Mickey Rooney!"
Rooney, who began his career in the 1920s as an infant, has literally grown up with the movies. "When I came to Hollywood, there was almost nothing here," he recalls. "I was right at the beginning of it and it's been a thrill ever since." Despite all the changes in motion picture production, Rooney remains most attracted to what he believes is the consistent heart and soul of movie-making--a great story--which is what drew him to NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. "I think we need more pictures like this," he says. "Something the whole family can see that's historic, clever and funny. There aren't many pictures like this that can bring the whole family together in one entertainment."
Rounding out the surprisingly treacherous trio is Bill Cobbs, a familiar face from countless film and television roles, in the role of Reginald. He loved having the chance to riff off Van Dyke and Rooney. "I've had a lot of good times in film, stage and television but this was one of those truly great experiences where you not only get to combine comedy, drama and improvisation but you get to watch masters come up with fantastic ideas," he comments.
Cobbs especially enjoyed playing such a shady, and not even remotely geriatric, elderly character. "To have me, Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney playing the bad guys is very unlikely, so you've got the makings of something very funny right from that idea. We look like a bunch of harmless old men but we're not--and that's what makes it so fun," he sums up.
Screenwriters Thomas Lennon & Robert Ben Garant were especially gratified by the casting of the old night guards. Says Lennon: "We were thrilled by this trio--it's like a little time capsule of every funny actor since the Talkies began!"
The Museum's Residents:
Robin Williams Heads a Cast of Larger-Than-Life Characters
Once the old night guards transfer their mantle to Larry Daley, he spends his first night at the museum--a night that proves wildly unforgettable as the wax, stone and stuffed exhibits that surround him in the dark roar to life. Amid the flying fur and chaos, Larry discovers some amazing people whose help he'll need if he's going to survive until morning.
Larry's greatest guidance comes from no less than one of the most lauded Americans in history and a man who truly believed in the awesome inherent power of the "common man"--the 26th President of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt.
To play Roosevelt, the filmmakers knew they would need someone who could hit all the big comic notes of the situation while still bringing out the colorful, inspirational personality of the real man. The person that came instantly to mind was Academy Award® winner and four-time Oscar® nominee Robin Williams, whose career has careened between unbridled comedy and intense dramatic portrayals. When offered the chance to play Roosevelt--who, like Williams, sported a wide-ranging interest in history, politics, science and nature--he could not pass it up.
"He was a larger-than-life figure in real life," Williams says, "an extraordinary man and an outrageously independent person who basically fought for what he called 'the little man.' Reading about him established the idea that he was both a very ethical and charismatic person. It was a blast getting to inhabit that kind of persona."
Like the rest of his cast-mates, Williams, who previously starred in the hit family fantasy Jumanji, couldn't resist the imaginative concept of NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. "Museums naturally lend themselves to the question of just what goes on in there at night and to have history come to life--and confront you--wow," he says. "I love this kind of story that's part fable and part grand adventure. I especially loved the dioramas coming to life because I collect miniatures and the idea of something on that scale coming alive is like 'Yo, dude!' And it's great fun to have Neanderthals and Huns running around again--they're always good for a party."
Diving into research, Williams was increasingly fascinated by Roosevelt, and especially his untiring, "can-do" attitude, which he attempts to get across to Larry Daley. "His message to Larry is 'you can do this, lad, and if you can bring order to this place, imagine what else you can do.' He offers him that old but great idea that you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps."
Once on the set, Williams was fully in his element. "This whole thing for me was like Halloween," he says. "One minute you're with Tyrannosaurus Rex and then you see an Egyptian King go by and the next you have a crush on Sacajawea. It was just like time traveling."
For Ben Stiller, working with Robin Williams made the fantasy all the more real, and all the funnier. "Robin Williams was really the only person who could do this role because he's so inimitable," says Stiller. "He's an iconic comedic fixture--which makes him sound like a faucet or something--but he's also a real student of history so he was perfect to play Teddy Roosevelt. He brings the reality and soulfulness to this guy who, let's face it, is really just a wax figure--and he's also incredibly funny. In the end, Teddy becomes Larry's true friend as he helps guide him through the museum and survive all the craziness."
Other historical figures upon whom Larry Daley must rely in his quest to save the museum include Sacajawea, the famous Shoshone guide who played an invaluable role in Lewis & Clark's historic expedition through the Pacific Northwest. In NIGHT AT THE MUSUEM, she uses her famed skills to help Larry get the out-of-control museum back in line. "She's a tracker," says rising young actress Mizuo Peck, who takes her first major Hollywood role in the film, "so she's smart and resourceful and really, really good at finding things."
Peck was especially thrilled to get a chance to trade flirtations with no less than Robin Williams, who plays Teddy Roosevelt, the fellow museum exhibit who catches Sacajawea's eye. "I still can't believe it," she says. "In our very first scene together, Robin has to come up to me all awkward and shy and unable to talk. He was so sweet and vulnerable and tender, he made it so easy for me. I instantly felt comfortable with him. Really this movie was everything I'd ever dreamed about Hollywood magic--with all the giant sets, with sphinxes and wild animals running around, plus Robin Williams. It couldn't have been more exciting."
Also excited to explore the ancient past was Rami Malek, the young Egyptian actor currently seen on TV's "The War at Home," who portrays the Pharaoh Ahkmenrah, the Egyptian mummy and teenaged king who has been sleeping for centuries, just waiting for his chance to rule. Even Malek's audition wasn't run-of-the-mill--rather than simply read lines, he had to reveal his own creative techniques for emerging from a sarcophagus!
Malek especially enjoyed the cliché-busting portrait of an Egyptian king. "You expect this austere presence to come from a Pharaoh who is part of this big curse, but instead you get someone who comes out with all this youthful exuberance, who's basically a teenager looking for a big adventure, so it's a different take that's really fresh and fun but still rooted in tradition," says Malek.
One of the most troublesome of the museum's exhibits isn't human at all, although he is a primate--the diminutive capuchin monkey Dexter who wreaks mischief way out of proportion to his size. Dexter isn't digital either--he's played by a real-life capuchin monkey named Crystal who was trained by Mike Alexander and Tom Gunderson of Birds & Animals Unlimited. "Dexter is a very mischievous little monkey but Crystal is quite good-natured," notes Alexander.
That was good news for Ben Stiller, who in one scene has to endure Dexter biting his nose, a trick that required some rather delicate training. "It was important that Ben be completely comfortable with Crystal and that Crystal be comfortable with him before that scene--so we actually went to Ben's house and brought Crystal with us so they could get to know each other. Lucky for everyone, Crystal liked him a lot," Alexander says. "To be honest, she mostly saw him as a prop!"
While Larry Daley is dodging fanged animals and spear-wielding tribesmen by night, by day he is fighting to keep his job--no easy feat considering he has a living nightmare of a boss: the ridiculously officious Dr. McPhee. Playing McPhee is one of the brightest comic stars from Britain, Ricky Gervais, who created and starred in the groundbreaking BBC series "The Office."
Gervais was drawn to the character of Dr. McPhee because he's exactly the kind of takes-himself-way-too-seriously character at which Gervais excels. "Here he is, in charge of this place of education but he's not quite articulate or smart enough to cut the mustard," Gervais explains. "He's trying to run a tight ship and then he finds himself in a battle of wills with this lowly security guard who has mucked up everything and frustrates him to no end. There's something very funny about a person in authority acting like a child!"
Especially fun for Gervais was the chance to trade barbs with Ben Stiller. "It's been such a joy working with Ben and we have a really fun dynamic in that we kind of each subvert our roles," he continues. "He's supposed to be my subordinate and the kind of person who's always getting into trouble and I'm the one in charge--but when it comes down to it, my character turns all bumbling and nervous, and Ben becomes the hero."
Ben's quest to get to the bottom of the museum's mystery also leads him to grow closer to one of the museum's most impassioned docents--Rebecca Hutman, who is fervently researching a thesis on Sacajawea and is moved by Larry's unexpected observations about how "alive" history seems to be in the museum. To play Rebecca, the filmmakers chose Carla Gugino, whose diverse career includes playing the mother of a family of underage spies in the popular Spy Kids series and was most recently seen in Robert Rodriguez's Sin City. Says Levy of the choice: "Carla has a combination of intelligence, beauty and gravitas that was a great match for the role of Rebecca."
Gugino couldn't put the script down, she was so riveted by the fantastical storytelling. "To have a story like this one that celebrates history and brings the past and the present together in such a fun and exciting way was really unique," she says. "I had that same gut feeling as with 'Spy Kids' that it had all the elements of a great, timeless story."
Also joining the cast as Stiller's son is newcomer Jake Cherry, who won the role after extensive auditions. Though he was thrilled to get the part, Cherry really started to get excited about what was ahead when he saw the sets for NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. "There were mummies and sarcophaguses and jackal guards and it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen," he sums up.
Another cast member already had a very intimate relationship with Ben Stiller--a woman who is another legend in comedy history and Stiller's real-life mother: Anne Meara. Meara plays the employment agent who sets Larry up with the museum job. Although Meara appeared in Reality Bites and Zoolander, it turns out this is the first time she and her son have ever had a scene together one-on-one. Says Stiller: "She's so funny and so talented, it was great to finally work with her!"
Sums up Shawn Levy of the film's entire cast: "This was a director's dream--to have actors ranging from Ben Stiller to Robin Williams and Ricky Gervais to Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney, you just knew that each performance would stand out on its own and be exceptional. It was like a heavyweight bout of comic giants."
Building the Museum:
The Film's Design
When it came to NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM's visual design, Shawn Levy knew he faced a task of an out-sized scale. As he puts it: "When you have all of history to draw from, that's a pretty huge palette!" He began by assembling a crack team of artists led by Academy Award winning production designer Claude Paré and sought-after costume designer Renée April.
Their mission was nothing less than creating the interior of a world-class museum--from scratch. While the film would use New York's globally recognizable Natural History Museum for exteriors, there was no way the production could unleash the story's mayhem within its halls lined with precious artifacts and priceless antiques. As Robin Williams notes: "You don't want to hear, 'You've just knocked over a 14th century divan that was Louis the Fourteenth's!'" So the decision was made to create an unprecedented set of wonders on a giant soundstage at the appropriately named Mammoth Studios in Vancouver--one that would replicate a kind of "greatest hits" of the most riveting natural history exhibits in existence.
The job of forging Shawn Levy's vision for the innards of the museum fell in large part to Claude Paré, who previously won an Oscar for the lavish, historical art design of Martin Scorsese's The Aviator. He knew this project would be a dizzying change of pace--yet he couldn't help but be excited by the gigantic challenge of it. "Usually a designer focuses on one or two periods, but with NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM, there was a chance to touch on so many different kinds of design, from ancient Egyptian temples to Western Cowboy scenes, and to have fun with each of them," says Paré.
Like an inspired curator, Paré put no limits on how far he could take things. "We did match the big arched windows at the museum in New York for continuity from exterior to interior," Paré explains, "but other than that, from the moment you enter the revolving doors, you're entirely in the environment we created for the film--apart from the Ocean Life Hall, which is a digital composite of an exhibit at the New York Natural History Museum."
For several weeks on end, the film's set designers became temporary museum designers, creating individual exhibits that tell unique stories--from Inuit fishermen surviving on the ice shelf to Neanderthals in their grotto attempting to make fire. "Each one of these exhibits had to be individually illustrated, planned, built and set within their own niche," explains Paré. "At one point we had ten designers all working just on the plans for the various museum exhibits. The goal was to make each one completely believable so we paid extreme attention to detail."
To keep up, the film's construction shop ran 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, churning out statues, models and miniatures. Paré even had his team building pyramids for the Egyptian Hall, which was partly inspired by the beloved Egyptian exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Though Egypt's pyramids required the labor of about 30,000 people for each structure, Paré had to make do with a far smaller, but very resourceful, force. "Our goal was to ride the line between creating a colorful and fun temple-of-doom kind of set while also keeping the design authentic to what you would see in a museum," he says.
Meanwhile, the team set about carving one of the film's key statues: the famed sculpture of Teddy Roosevelt mounted upon a horse and waving his sword through the air, which had to be reconfigured to match the familiar silhouette of Robin Williams. To make sure the statue would look just like the character who comes to life at night, Williams had to pose in the position--meaning the famously hyperkinetic actor had to remain unusually still--while being wrapped in plaster bandages to make the mold. Later, the mold was filled with fiberglass and given finishing touches that lend it the essence of Roosevelt in the shape of Williams.
Even as these larger-than-life objects were being built, a slew of skilled model makers was recruited for work in the opposite extreme: carving the painstaking miniatures for the museum's mini-sized dioramas, which also come magically and robustly to life, turning Ben Stiller's Larry Daley into a kind of trapped Gulliver in the land of Lilliputians.
"For the dioramas, first we had to research the subjects of each of the exhibits--from the Mayan culture to the history of the American railroad," explains Paré. "Then we really got into the precise measurements and layout of the diorama room so we could figure out exactly how much space the models would need and then how much space would be needed for Ben to have interaction with all the little figurines," recalls Paré. "The work required lots of patience and lots of care."
While many of the film's sets and props are spectacular in scope, one of Paré's favorite elements of the design is actually one of the most subtle: the museum's high gloss floor, which became key to NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM's visual motif. "The floor might just be the most important part of the set," comments Paré. "You get all these wonderful reflections from it which makes everything in the museum look more grand. And it was also quite useful for Ben Stiller sliding across it!"
As the cast began to arrive at the Mammoth Studios, they too were transfixed by what Paré and his team had accomplished. comments Ricky Gervais: "Entering the set was a bit like walking into the most giant toy box in the world."
Like Claude Paré, costume designer Renee April faced the unusual task of designing costumes not just for one or two eras--but for periods throughout the whole of history, ranging from fur-covered Huns to loin cloth-sporting Mayans to armored Romans to uniformed Civil War soldiers, all the way to contemporary security guards. April, whose past work includes the upcoming action-adventure film Pathfinder and the blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow as well as such celebrated period films as The Moderns and Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, was attracted by the chance to dive into one aspect of her job that she especially loves: historical research.
After several field trips to New York's Natural History Museum, April was inspired. Part of what she hoped to accomplish was to not only match the diversity she found there, but to tie all the disparate costumes of NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM together into one consistently comical big picture. "The challenge was to translate all those different period costumes so that they each play equally well in a comedy," April explains. "I needed to keep a thread of veracity, but I also wanted to make everything bigger than life."
One of the toughest costumes on April's prodigious list was that of the Egyptian king Akhmenrah, as played by Rami Malek. "Because he's a mummy, we had to create a costume that could be wrapped in cloth," she remarks, "yet still give him all the splendor and the glory of a great Egyptian King with a full headdress and big, golden coat. That costume took a lot of work and many, many, many little beads."
Another fun costume was that of Attila the Hun, of whom of course no pictures exist, so April was able to go a bit wild with her imagination. "We bought old blankets and lined them with fur and then we carved our own metal armor and those big, horse-hair helmets," she says. "It might not be entirely accurate but it's very colorful and definitely Hun-like."
When it came to Robin Williams' Teddy Roosevelt, historical accuracy was easier. "Roosevelt's costume is probably the closest to historical reality because we pretty much know what he wore right down to the buttons," says April. "Once we put all the pieces together and Robin tried them on, he was perfect."
Key makeup effects supervisor Adrien Morot further enriched April's designs, adding finishing touches to each character, including a waxy, translucent sheen to the faces of those playing living sculptures and facial prosthetics that transformed modern-day actors into Neanderthals and Huns. "In most films you're trying to make things look more real. The interesting challenge with NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM was trying to take real actors and make them look like fake statues!" says Morot.
For Shawn Levy, watching these artisans morph a bare soundstage into the museum he had dreamed of when he first read the script was exhilarating. He says: "To see it all come to life was an incredible experience. It kind of gets you addicted to filmmaking on a such a large canvas."
The Museum Comes Alive:
With the characters in the hands of legendary and rising comic stars and the museum's elaborate sets being erected by dedicated craftsmen, there still remained that last bit of magic that would actually allow the Natural History Museum to take on life--in this case, not an ancient Egyptian spell but digital wizardry in the form of cutting-edge visual effects.
At first, Shawn Levy was nervous about the film's intensive use of CG--especially because he'd never headed a production as digitally driven as this one. But he was heartened by the tremendous and highly experienced support he had behind him. "I got a lot of advice early on from Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, my fellow producers, who, of course, had worked on the Harry Potter franchise," explains Levy. "They said not to worry about all the high-tech lingo. Rather, they said, the important part was to really know exactly how you want stuff to look in your head... and then let your team help with the how-to. So I took that to heart and spent a lot of time storyboarding because I felt that if I could clearly show my team what I wanted on the screen, they could figure out how to get it there!"
Levy also brought a fresh perspective to the effects, infusing them with comical improvisation. "Usually, people prepare for effects shots well in advance, but we did it in a completely unconventional way," he explains. "Let's say Ben was supposed to get hit by Tyrannosaurus Rex's tail and go sliding across the floor in a scene--but on the day he did the scene, he decided instead 'wouldn't it be funny if instead I did a double back flip and landed on the staircase'--well, you want the best idea to win. So as a result, we were constantly changing things and the visual effects team had to roll with that. They said it was by far the most improvisational effects movie they'd ever experienced. And I think that's because Ben Stiller and I don't really do effects movies. Everything we do is in the quest of the best joke or the best moment. To their credit, the whole team rallied behind that edict."
To bring movement and life to the museum's creatures and statues, Levy relied on the VFX Supervisor Jim Rygiel, (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) and one of Hollywood's leading visual effects houses, Rhythm & Hues--which is renowned for its exceptional work in creating photo-realistic animals as seen recently in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
Right off the bat, the challenges were literally big and muscular as Rhythm & Hues set about creating the lion that leaps out of the African Mammals hall and chases Larry Daley. "The jeopardy for Larry in these scenes hinges on the fact that the CG lion has to be a completely photo real animal," says Dan Deleeuw, VFX Supervisor for Rhythm & Hues. "But working with realistic animals in CG is difficult because you don't have the kind of fantasy environment that will let you get away with certain tricks. We used very original and careful staging in this sequence so that it really looks like the lion's claws miss Larry by mere inches."
Another big challenge for the VFX team came in working with the truly tiny--making diorama armies of just a few inches high look like photo-real Mayans, Romans and American Cowboys battling one another. "For the diorama armies, we created 89 base models which then became the basis for several hundred variations that were created in the computer," Rygiel explains. "We used real actors, shot them in various action sequences, and then duplicated them in their exact actuality so that now, when you see the cowboys fighting the Romans across a whole diorama floor, there will be several hundred variants with individual characteristics."
The dioramas sequences also presented potential problems of scale. "If you're photographing something in the diorama world and the camera moves two feet, with the scale issue, when you photograph a human on the green screen to match it, you're actually moving 48 feet. And suddenly you're above the height of the ceiling on the sound stage! So a lot of planning had to go into the photography," Deleeuw notes.
With the actors, designers and effects team all working hand in hand, the footage suddenly took on the mix of reality, comedy and enchantment that Shawn Levy had sought from the start. Sums up the director: "In the end, these guys literally were able to get the museum and everything that happens in it to look exactly how I dreamed of it all in my head."
Night at the Museum: The IMAX Experience--
Coming to Life in IMAX!
Night at the Museum: The IMAX Experience will be released in IMAX® theatres worldwide beginning December 22, 2006, simultaneously with the film's debut in conventional theaters. This film has been digitally re-mastered into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience® with proprietary IMAX DMR® (Digital Re-mastering) technology.
Night at the Museum: The IMAX Experience is the third IMAX film with Twentieth Century Fox, following the release of Robots: The IMAX Experience in March 2005 and Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones: The IMAX Experience in November 2002.
IMAX Theatres deliver images of unsurpassed clarity and impact, virtually transporting audiences inside the movie as they watch museum exhibits magically come to life on the world's largest screens, surrounded by state-of-the-art digital surround sound. IMAX screens can be three times larger than the average 35mm screen, 4,500 times larger than the average TV screen, and as wide as an NFL football field, creating a completely immersive moviegoing experience.
comments director Shawn Levy: "Night at the Museum is a wild ride of a movie. It's immersive--putting you in the thrilling position of participating in the secret life of a museum after dark. I can't think of a bigger treat for an audience than taking that wild ride in the vivid scale and clarity of the IMAX format. It takes the film-going experience to the next level. It makes a big movie even bigger."
The sheer size of a 15/70 film frame, combined with the unique IMAX projection technology, is key to the extraordinary sharpness and clarity of the images projected in IMAX theatres.
To fully envelop IMAX theatergoers, the IMAX sound system is a specially designed multi-channel stereo system that delivers exceptional clarity and quality for maximum impact.
The IMAX® brand is world famous and stands for the highest-quality, most immersive filmed entertainment. Visitors to IMAX theatres now number in the hundreds of millions since the technology premiered in 1970. As the number of theatres grows, so does the visibility of the IMAX brand--a name that is unique in the entertainment business.
Founded in 1967, IMAX Corporation is one of the world's leading entertainment technology companies and the newest distribution window for Hollywood films. IMAX delivers the world's best cinematic presentations using proprietary IMAX, IMAX 3D, and IMAX DMR technology. IMAX DMR (Digital Re-mastering) makes it possible for virtually any 35mm film to be transformed into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience. The IMAX brand is recognized throughout the world for extraordinary and immersive entertainment experiences. As of June 30, 2006, there were 274 IMAX theatres operating in 38 countries.
IMAX®, IMAX® 3D, IMAX DMR®, IMAX MPX®, and The IMAX Experience® are trademarks of IMAX Corporation. More information on the Company can be found at www.imax.com.
Teddy Roosevelt: Long before he became a waxen museum statue, Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States, and a man renowned for his widely varied interests and accomplishments. He was a historian, an author of more than 35 books, rancher, conservationist, father of six children and a naturalist who made daring scientific expeditions to South America and Africa to bring back museum exhibits like those in NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. Aside from his mustache, he is also famed for establishing the expanded role of the modern President, the Panama Canal, consumer protection acts, the "Square Deal" which provided a living wage to millions and for winning the Nobel Peace Prize, among others.
Sacajawea: One of the legendary women of the American West, Sacajawea was the daughter of a Shoshone chief whose skills and smarts enabled her to serve as a guide and interpreter for Lewis and Clark's famed early 19th century expedition from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean--and also come in pretty handy in helping Larry Daley track down the museum's run-away exhibits.
Egyptian Pharaohs: Pharaohs were the kings of Ancient Egypt's mysterious and powerful empire, which endured from the Neolithic Age of 3500 BC to the Roman era of 100 AD, one of the longest-lasting civilizations in human history. Each of the pharaohs was believed to be the reincarnation of the Egyptian god Horus, and thus were usually mummified in preparation for resuming their power in the afterlife--even if the afterlife ended up being in a museum!
Octavius: Octavius was the first of Rome's great Emperors and went on to rule the Roman Empire for an incredible 40 years. Adopted as the son of Julius Caesar, Octavius rose to power in 31 BC and remained there until his death in 14 BC. After ending a slew of civil wars, he introduced the "Pax Romana"--a fruitful period of extended peace and prosperity--the calm of which has been shattered by his cowboy neighbors in the museum.
Attila the Hun: Attila the Hun was king of the Hun Empires and the famed horse-riding warrior who fought the Romans in the 4th Century. He became a legendary figure across Europe for creating one of the fiercest and most feared armies the world, or any museum corridor, has ever known.
Neanderthal Man: Neanderthal Man was an early subspecies of homo sapiens who first inhabited parts of Europe and Asia as long as 350,000 years ago. They are known for their short, stocky bodies, prominent brows and forward-jutting chins--as well as for their hunting skills and early use of tools, not to mention their burning quest for fire.
Easter Island heads: On one of the most isolated islands in the world, 2,000 miles from any other land, in the middle of the South Pacific, a mysterious culture carved more than 800 massive stone heads weighing more than 10 tons each. Replicated in the museum, the giant heads have a few words of advice for Larry Daley.
Tyrannosaurus Rex: AKA "T-Rex," Tyrannosaurus Rex was a large, carnivorous dinosaur who lived in the late Cretaceous Period about 85 million years ago. Despite his tiny arms, the dinosaur's powerful body and large, pointy teeth made him a formidable predator--but perhaps all he really wanted was a good game of fetch.
Capuchin monkeys: Capuchin monkeys are a highly intelligent species of New World monkey found in Central and South America. They have been trained as organ-grinders, pets and even as aids for paralyzed people over the years--but are noted, as Larry Daley soon discovers, for their mischievous and resourceful natures.
Ben Stiller (Larry Daley) is
an innovative actor, director, producer and writer who continues to
imprint his unique comedic and dramatic perspective on film, television
and stage. He is currently in production on The Untitled Farrelly Brothers
Comedy which re-teams Stiller with the writing-directing team of Peter
and Bobby Farrelly. Loosely inspired by the 1972 classic hit, The
Heartbreak Kid, the film tells the story of a man who hastily weds a
woman who he thinks is perfect--until he falls in love with another woman
during the honeymoon. Michelle Monaghan and Malin Ackerman will co-star
with the Farrelly's Conundrum Entertainment producing for Dreamworks.
Additionally, Stiller will executive produce, direct, and guest star in a
pilot for CBS which will star his wife Christine Taylor. The pilot, written
by Ajay Sahgal, is about an actress married to Ben Stiller who contends
with her family members and their involvement in her life. CBS Paramount
Network Television will produce. Finally, Stiller has agreed to reprise his
role in a second Madagascar film. He was most recently heard in the 2005
Dreamworks animated film along with co-stars David Schwimmer, Chris Rock and
Jada Pinkett Smith.
In the spring of 2005, Stiller completed a successful run Off-Broadway in Neil LaBute's play, "This Is How It Goes" at New York's Public Theatre. Directed by George C. Wolfe and co-starring Jeffrey Wright and Amanda Peet, the play explores an interracial romance involving two men and a woman in small-town America.
Stiller was last seen on the big screen in the blockbuster comedy sequel Meet the Fockers with Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand. Directed by Jay Roach, the film introduces Stiller's in-laws to his parents played by Hoffman and Streisand to hilarious results.
In 2004, Stiller starred in the hit comedies Dodgeball, Starsky & Hutch and Along Came Polly. Other films include the comedy Zoolander based on the story of 'Derek Zoolander,' the male model character Stiller co-created with Drake Sather for the VH1 Fashion Awards. Stiller co-wrote, directed, starred and also produced the film through Red Hour Films with partner Stuart Cornfeld. Prior to that, Stiller starred in Jay Roach's Meet The Parents, which won a People's Choice Award and earned Stiller an American Comedy Award for Funniest Male Performance and an MTV Movie Award™ for Best Comedic Performance. Additionally, he was nominated for Best On-Screen Team with Robert De Niro. Stiller also starred in Wes Anderson's eccentric comedy The Royal Tenenbaums.
Having firmly established himself as a successful filmmaker, Stiller has an exclusive, three-year, first-look film and television production deal with Dreamworks, in which he will write, produce, and direct films under his own banner, Red Hour Films. Stiller made his feature-length motion picture directorial debut in 1994 with the critically acclaimed Reality Bites, in which he also co-starred with Winona Ryder, Janeane Garofalo and Ethan Hawke. He went on to direct Jim Carrey and Matthew Broderick in The Cable Guy.
Stiller's film credits as an actor also include Duplex, Keeping The Faith, Peter and Bobby Farrelly's smash hit There's Something About Mary, Permanent Midnight based on Jerry Stahl's controversial Hollywood memoir, Neil LaBute's Your Friends and Neighbors, Jake Kasdan's Zero Effect, David O. Russell's Flirting With Disaster, Steven Spielberg's World War II epic Empire of the Sun, John Irvin's Next of Kin, David Anspaugh's Fresh Horses and John Erman's Stella.
Stiller made his professional acting debut on Broadway in 1985 starring opposite John Mahoney in John Guare's "The House of Blue Leaves." While appearing in the play, Stiller persuaded Mahoney and fellow cast members Swoosie Kurtz, Stockard Channing, and Julie Hagerty to appear in a short comedy film, his first true directorial effort, The Hustler of Money. A parody of Martin Scorsese's The Color of Money, the film eventually aired on "Saturday Night Live" where it was so well received, Stiller was subsequently hired as a featured player and apprentice writer for the NBC comedy series.
Following his stint at "Saturday Night Live," Stiller directed a comedy special for MTV called "Back to Brooklyn." Stiller followed that project by creating "The Ben Stiller Show," also for MTV, and later collaborated with Judd Apatow for a 13-episode run on FOX. A critical success, Stiller, along with the rest of the writing staff, was awarded an Emmy® for outstanding comedy writing. Stiller also co-edited the photo book, Looking at Los Angeles, a pictorial representation of Los Angeles from the last three-quarters of a century. The book was ranked among Amazon.com's "Best Books of 2005."
Carla Gugino (Rebecca) will next be
seen starring opposite Danny DeVito and Kim Basinger in the crime drama Even
Money and in the thriller Rise starring Lucy Liu, written and directed by
Sebastian Gutierrez. She recently wrapped a role in Scott Frank's directorial
debut, The Lookout, starring opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt, which will be
released in 2007. Additionally, Gugino will have a six-episode arc on the
upcoming season of HBO's hit comedy "Entourage." She most recently appeared in
the Robert Rodriguez adaptation of the Frank Miller graphic novel series, Sin
City, alongside Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke.
Gugino's film credits include her role in all three installments of Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids series, opposite Antonio Banderas; The Singing Detective, opposite Robert Downey, Jr., Robin Wright Penn and Jeremy Northam; the Wayne Wang art house film The Center Of The World; and The One, opposite Jet Li and Delroy Lindo. She also starred in Sebastian Gutierrez's Creature Feature Part 1: She Creature, opposite Rufus Sewell for Cinemax, as well as Frank Whaley's film The Jimmy Club, opposite Whaley and Ethan Hawke.
Gugino has starred opposite Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage in Snake Eyes, directed by Brian DePalma. She served as a producer and starred in the independent film, Judas Kiss, opposite another Academy Award winner, Emma Thompson. She also starred in The War At Home with Martin Sheen, Kathy Bates and Emilio Estevez; Michael with John Travolta and William Hurt; Miami Rhapsody opposite Sarah Jessica Parker; This Boy's Life with Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio; and Son In Law. Additionally she has appeared in the films Lovelife, HBO's A Private Matter, Showtime's The Motorcycle Gang and Troop Beverly Hills, her first feature film.
Gugino's television credits include her critically acclaimed performances in the CBS series "Threshold" and as the title character in the series, "Karen Sisco," based on the character from the Elmore Leonard novel Out Of Sight. She also appeared opposite Michael J. Fox on "Spin City;" as a neurosurgeon on "Chicago Hope;" and in the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie "A Season for Miracles," starring opposite Kathy Baker, Laura Dern and Lynn Redgrave. She received rave reviews as an American girl who finds her way into aristocratic British society in the BBC/PBS mini-series "The Buccaneers." Gugino made her Broadway debut in the summer of 2004 at the Roundabout Theater's revival of Arthur Miller's "After the Fall." She received many accolades, including an Outer Critics' Circle Award nomination and a Theater World award for Outstanding Broadway Debut.
Dick Van Dyke (Cecil Fredricks), in 1955,
hosted "The CBS Morning Show" in New York, with Walter Cronkite as news anchor and
Barbara Walters as news copywriter. Concurrently, he was auditioning for Broadway
shows and eventually landed a spot in a revue called "The Boys Against the Girls."
Director and choreographer Gower Champion caught the show and signed to Van Dyke to
star with Chita Rivera in "Bye Bye Birdie" in which he introduced "Put on a Happy
Face" in a 1960 Tony®-winning performance. "Bye Bye Birdie" was in its second
season when Carl Reiner and Sheldon Leonard chose Van Dyke to star in a comedy
series that became "The Dick Van Dyke Show." Premiering in 1961, it ran for five
seasons and earned Van Dyke three Emmy Awards.
During hiatus periods, he starred in the film version of Bye Bye Birdie , and the Disney classic Mary Poppins . Other features included Lt. Robin Crusoe, USN , Divorce American Style , Chitty Chitty Bang-Bang , The Comic , Some Kind of a Nut , Cold Turkey  and The Runner Stumbles .
After a year in England filming the family classic Chitty Chitty Bang-Bang, the Van Dykes moved to their ranch in Carefree, Arizona where "The New Dick Van Dyke Show" was produced for three seasons. His next project was the dramatic television movie, "The Morning After," adapted from the Jack Weiner novel about a talented and successful family man whose life is destroyed by his alcoholism. The theme broke new ground for television dramas and earned him an Emmy nomination.
Then it was back to song, dance and comedy in "Van Dyke and Company," thirteen variety specials on NBC. After that Van Dyke returned to the theater for a revival of "The Music Man," touring before taking it to Broadway. The following year he toured in "Damn Yankees."
Dick won his fifth Emmy for the 1982 CBS Library Special "Wrong Way Kid." Other TV movies include, "Drop-Out Father," "Found Money," The PBS Special "Breakfast with Les and Bess," the miniseries "Strong Medicine" and a Showtime production of "The Country Girl."
His awards and honors include the Dance Legend of the Year Award from the Professional Dancers Society of America; the 1998 Disney Legend Award; a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Comedy Awards; and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1995 he was inducted into the Television Academy Walk of Fame.
Mark Sloane, the crime solving MD, was introduced in an episode of "Jake and the Fat Man" before becoming the central character in several TV movies and the series "Diagnosis Murder," which ran on CBS for eight seasons through the 1990s until 2001, followed by two Dr. Sloane movies in 2002.
In 2003, Van Dyke reunited with Mary Tyler Moore to play two lonely retirees in D.L. Coburn's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, "The Gin Game," on PBS Hollywood Theater. The following year they were together again as Rob and Laura Petrie in "Dick Van Dyke Revisited."
Threatening to retire for the last twenty years, Van Dyke returned to Broadway in January 2006 to sing and dance in four performances of "Chita Rivera: A Dancer's Life," receiving standing ovations after each number. His Hallmark movie, "Murder 101," part of a franchise series, also aired in 2006.
Van Dyke serves as fund-raising chairman for the 100-year-old Midnight Mission in Los Angeles and was recently awarded the Golden Heart Award for his charitable service and giving.
The honorary Oscar® is the motion picture industry's highest
acknowledgement of film legends. It is given only occasionally, and the select recipients
include such names as Charles Chaplin, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, Joan
Crawford, Laurence Olivier and Deborah Kerr. In 1983, it was presented to
Mickey Rooney (Gus).
Rooney was born Joe Yule, Jr., on September 23, 1920 in Brooklyn, son of well-known performers Joe Yule and Nell Carter. The consummate performer, he made his first stage appearance at the age of one when he crawled out on stage during his parents' vaudeville act.
All of Rooney's eighty-three years have been busy. At four, he made his motion picture debut, as a midget in Not To Be Trusted. A year later, he became Mickey "Himself" McGuire for seventy-eight short film comedies based on Fontaine Fox's tough little cartoon character. He outgrew the role at twelve and went on the road taking the name of Mickey Rooney. In the 1930s, he signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for whom he made the famous Andy Hardy series. Box office receipts for 1938-1940 made him the number one star in the world.
In 1939, he received a special Academy Award for the film Boys Town with Spencer Tracy and for his work in the Andy Hardy series. This was also the year he made his first major musical with Judy Garland, Babes in Arms, which earned him an Academy Award nomination as best actor. It was the first time a juvenile had competed with adult stars for the honor. The next time he was so honored was in 1943 for his work in The Human Comedy. In 1944, he made National Velvet with Elizabeth Taylor, before joining the army for World War II. As a regular GI, during the war he entertained frontline troops with the "Jeep Shows," which consisted of three men in a jeep who delivered much needed entertainment to the troops at the front. For his services in the war, he was awarded the Bronze Star with clusters.
After the war, Rooney set about rebuilding his career. He would make several classic films including Killer McCoy, The Fireball (Marilyn Monroe's first film), Baby Face Nelson and Breakfast at Tiffany's. His list of credits for the past eight decades is impressive, containing more than three hundred films, including The Black Stallion for which he received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
With the advent of television, Rooney dove into and conquered the new medium. He appeared in many classic dramas, such as "The Comedian" with famed director John Frankenheimer (for which he received an Emmy nomination) and the classic "Twilight Zone" episode "The Last Night of a Jockey." In 1982, he portrayed Bill Sechter in the television film "Bill" and received an Emmy, The Golden Globe®, and the Peabody Award for his performance. He repeated the role two years later in "Bill On His Own." He has starred in numerous television series including "Hey Mulligan;" "Mickey" for which he won the Golden Globe in 1964; "A Year At The Top" with Sammy Davis, Jr.; "One Of The Boys" with Nathan Land and Dana Carvey; and "The Adventures of the Black Stallion."
In 1979, Rooney achieved a new triumph, which took him to the cover of "Life" magazine for his starring role in the theatrical production of "Sugar Babies," which garnered him a Tony nomination. The show ran successfully on Broadway for three years and had a record-breaking eight-year run on the road. His stage success continued in 1989 when he and Donald O'Connor made a twenty-city tour in "Two For The Show," which they co-wrote. In 1990, they enjoyed similar success with a thirteen-city tour in Neil Simon's "The Sunshine Boys." He returned to Broadway in 1993 to appear with Larry Gatlin in "The Will Rogers Follies." He successfully revived "Sugar Babies" in 1995 at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas with Juliette Prowse and appeared in Toronto at Royal Alexandra Theatre in "Crazy for You." In 1997, he toured the United States and Canada as 'The Wizard' and 'Professor Marvel' in Madison Square Garden's acclaimed production of "The Wizard of Oz."
In 1998 Rooney and his wife Jan launched a successful tour of "The One Man One Wife Show" in Australia and New Zealand. The show has been a continued success delighting audiences throughout the United States and Europe. Rooney is also an accomplished musician and can play almost every instrument in an orchestra. As a member of ASCAP, he has composed numerous pop songs, a symphony and several film scores.
The recipient of three stars on The Hollywood Walk of Fame®, in April of 2004, Rooney was honored to received a Fourth Star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame®. He proudly shares that star with his wife Jan for their achievement in live entertainment. They remain deeply in love with one another. They currently reside in Ventura County, California. There they enjoy the pleasure and quiet of the country with the other loves of their lives, children, grandchildren and their two birds. They are both strong Animal Rights advocates.
Bill Cobbs (Reginald) was born and raised in
Cleveland where his mother was a cleaning lady and his father a construction worker. As
an amateur actor in the city's Karamu House Theater, he starred in the Ossie Davis play
"Purlie Victorious." Cobbs was an Air Force radar technician for eight years; he also
worked in office products at IBM and sold cars in Cleveland. In 1970, at the age of 36,
he left for New York to seek work as an actor. There he turned down a job in the NBC
sales department in order to have time for auditions. He supported himself by driving a
cab, repairing office equipment, selling toys, and performing odd jobs. His first
professional acting role was in "Ride a Black Horse" at the Negro Ensemble Company. From
there he appeared in small theater productions, street theater, regional theater and at
the Eugene O'Neill Theater. His first television credit was in "Vegetable Soup" (1976),
a New York public television educational series, and he made his feature film debut in
1974 in the thriller The Taking Of Pelham 123.
Cobbs has gone on to appear in numerous film and television roles. His film credits include Decoration Day, The Hudsucker Proxy, Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead, New Jack City, That Thing You Do!, Ghosts of Mississippi, Carolina Skeletons and A Mighty Wind. He has been a series regular on "The Gregory Hines Show" and "I'll Fly Away," among others. He has also appeared on "The Drew Cary Show" and "Six Feet Under." Earlier this year Cobbs co-starred in the feature film Retirement with Peter Boyle, Peter Falk and Rip Torn. In his free time Cobbs enjoys music, reading, playing his drums, and learning how to play golf.
Robin Williams (Teddy Roosevelt) is an
Academy Award-winning actor and a multiple Grammy®-winning performer unparalleled in
the scope of his imagination--and continues to add to his repertoire of indelible characters.
Williams also stars this fall in Barry Levinson's Man of the Year
and plays the lead role opposite Toni Collette in Patrick Stettner's
The Night Listener, based on the Armistead Maupin novel. He
also re-teamed with director Barry Sonnenfeld in the comedy RV and
stars in August Rush with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Freddie
In 1997, Williams received the Academy Award® and Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance in Gus Van Sant's Good Will Hunting. The Academy previously nominated Williams for The Fisher King, Dead Poets Society and Good Morning Vietnam. Williams garnered a special honor from the National Board of Review for his performance opposite Robert De Niro in Awakenings. In 2004, Williams received the prestigious Career Achievement Award from the Chicago International Film Festival and, in 2005, the HFPA honored him with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.
Robin Williams first captured the attention of the world as Mork from Ork on the hit series "Mork & Mindy." Born in Chicago and raised in Michigan and California, he trained at New York's Juilliard School under John Houseman. Williams made his film debut as the title character in Robert Altman's Popeye. His early motion picture credits include Paul Mazursky's Moscow on the Hudson and The World According to Garp, George Roy Hill's adaptation of John Irving's acclaimed novel.
Williams' filmography includes a number of blockbusters. In 1991, Williams assumed the dual roles of Peter Pan/Peter Banning in Steven Spielberg's Hook. In 1993, he starred in Chris Columbus' Mrs. Doubtfire for Mike Nichols. Williams portrayed Armand Goldman in The Birdcage, for which the cast won a SAG ensemble award. In 1996, both The Birdcage and Jumanji reached the $100 million mark in the USA in the same week. Next, he starred in Disney's Flubber, and played a medical student who treats patients with humor in Patch Adams.
In a departure from the usual comedic and family fare he is best known for, Williams collaborated with two accomplished young directors on dramatic thrillers. For Christopher Nolan, he starred opposite Al Pacino as reclusive novelist Walter Finch, the primary suspect in the murder of a teenaged girl in a small Alaskan town, in Insomnia. In Mark Romanek's One Hour Photo, Williams played a photo lab employee who becomes obsessed with a young suburban family.
Using only his voice, Williams created one of the most vivid characters in recent memory--the 'Blue Genie of the Lamp' in Aladdin. The performance redefined how animations were voiced. Audio versions of his one-man shows and the children's record "Pecos Bill" have won him five Grammy Awards. Most recently Williams lent his vocal talents to the blockbuster animated feature Robots.
Williams' stage credits include a landmark production of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot," directed by Mike Nichols and co-starring Steve Martin and, most recently, a short run in San Francisco of "The Exonerated," which tells the true stories of six innocent survivors of death row.
Williams, who began his career as a stand-up comedian, is well known for monologues in which he makes free associative leaps punctuated by one-liners about subjects as varied as politics, history, religion, ethnic strife and sex. Williams did just that when he toured in a critically acclaimed indefatigable one-man show that visited thirty-six cities. The final performance was filmed by HBO and broadcast live from New York on July 14, 2002.
Offstage, Williams takes great joy in supporting causes too numerous to identify--covering the spectrum from health care and human rights, to education, environmental protection, and the arts. He toured the Middle East three times in as many years to help raise morale among the troops and is, perhaps, best known philanthropically for his affiliation with Comic Relief, which was founded in 1986 as a non-profit organization to help America's homeless.
Jake Cherry (Nick) made his feature film debut
starring Jennifer Aniston and Frances McDormand in Friends With Money. He was a series
regular on the Fox series "Head Cases" and a guest star on "Bones" and "Third Watch." He
also starred in the Lifetime telefilm "Miracle Run," playing Mary-Louise Parker's autistic
Cherry got his acting start in commercials when he was just two years old, accompanying his older brother to auditions. He has since appeared in over 20 national commercials.
Ricky Gervais (Dr. McPhee) is best known for
his role of co-creator (with Stephen Merchant) and star of the hit British television
series "The Office." Gervais started his career in television by writing and starring in
a one-off called "Golden Years" about a businessman who is obsessed with becoming a
David Bowie look-alike. He next appeared on "The 11 O'Clock Show"--a topical comedy
magazine series for which he adopted the persona of a half-knowledgeable bigot, an
outrageous and refreshingly funny foil to the satirical Oxbridge pretensions of the show
"Meet Ricky Gervais," a chat show, came hot on the heels of his popularity in the "11 O'Clock Show." When the show finished in October 2000, Gervais and Merchant had already been developing their ideas for an office-based mock documentary, and months if not years of work would come to fruition on 9 July 2001 when the BBC aired the first episode of "The Office."
Twelve episodes and a two-part Christmas special later, "The Office" was consigned to broadcasting history. Showered with awards and critical acclaim, the series' pivotal creation, the character of David Brent, became a household name and so did Ricky Gervais. Not only a mega-hit in England, "The Office" has gone on to become one of the most successful British comedy exports of all time.
Gervais recently completed production on season two of 'Extras.' He appears in the starring role of this satirical television series that he created with Merchant, for the BBC and HBO.
Kim Raver (Erica Daley) has starred on the Emmy
Award Winning Fox drama "24" for the past two seasons as 'Audrey Raines,' an aide to the
Secretary of Defense in Washington. This fall, Raver can be seen starring in the new ABC
prime time drama "The Nine," which follows the lives of nine people after they experience a
52-hour hostage situation.
Raver recently wrapped a role in the indie feature Prisoner opposite Julian McMahon. She was also seen in the independent films Mind the Gap, directed by Eric Schaeffer, and Keep your Distance, directed by Stu Pollard. Raver also starred in the 2005 Lifetime movie "Haunting Sarah," a supernatural thriller in which she portrays identical twins.
Raver endeared herself to critics and viewers during the five years she starred as paramedic Kim Zambrano on the NBC drama "Third Watch." Raver's other television credits include a lead role on NBC's "Trinity"; guest starring roles in "The Practice," "Spin City," "Law & Order", and a recurring role on "Central Park West." She also appeared in the feature film City Hall with Al Pacino.
Born and raised in New York City, Raver had a regular role on the children's television series "Sesame Street" from the ages of 6 to 9. After "Sesame Street" she joined off-Broadway's first all-children's theater. Raver's big break came with her Broadway debut in the play "Holiday" in which she co-starred with Laura Linney and Tony Goldwyn. She also costarred with David Schwimmer and John Spencer in the Williamstown production of "The Glimmer Brothers," written by Warren Leight.
Patrick Gallagher (Attila The Hun) was most
recently seen in Final Destination 3 and previously appeared in Peter Weir's Master and
Commander: The Far Side of the World and in the Academy Award-winning indie hit Sideways.
Gallagher plays a principal role on the television series "Stargate Atlantis" and a recurring role on the BRAVO series "Godiva's." He is a series regular on "Da Vinci's City Hall," and played a recurring guest role on "Da Vinci's Inquest." Gallagher has played guest starring roles on the series "Battlestar Galactica," "La Femme Nikita," "Dark Angel," "Taken," "Kung Fu," "F/X: The Series," "Due South" and "Mysterious Ways." His movie of the week credits include "My Father's Shadow," "American Meltdown," "Skid Road" and "Damaged Care."
Rami Malek (Ahkmenrah) made his television debut
after booking his very first audition, on "The Gilmore Girls," and can currently be seen
playing Kenny on the FOX series "The War At Home." He earlier played a recurring character
in Steven Bochco's acclaimed Iraq war series "Over There" and has made guest starring
appearances on the series "FX" and "Medium."
Malek decided to pursue acting professionally after being invited to join The O'Neill Playwrights conference in Connecticut, where he trained in theater and worked to refine his craft. There he performed in "The Bebop Heard in Okinawa" and "Fascination" before heading to England to study Shakespeare. With his acting roots firmly planted in theater, he returned to Los Angeles, where he was cast in a leading role for "Johnny Boy," which was met with critical acclaim. He then briefly relocated to New York City to appear in "Shoes," off-Broadway.
Egyptian actor Malek received his BFA at the University of Evansville and currently lives in Los Angeles with his family.
Mizuo Peck (Sacajawea), a native New Yorker,
still lives a block from where she grew up in Tribeca. Acting since age 11, Peck
graduated from LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts where she focused on acting.
With a B.F.A. degree in Theatre from the prestigious acting conservatory at SUNY
Purchase, Peck has acted in theatre, commercials, television and film and has modeled
for photographer Bruce Weber for the cover of L'uomo Vogue. She has also appeared in a
Bruce Weber-directed music video for the Pet Shop Boys and appeared with Angelina Jolie
in the Rolling Stones' music video, "Anybody Seen My Baby?"
Peck's television credits include "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "All My Children" and "Witchblade." Her film credits include Husky, Don't Cry and Scenes of the Crime, in which she acted alongside Jeff Bridges.
Steve Coogan (Octavius) is one of the icons
of British comedy. He has created some of British television's most loved comedy
characters, including the inimitable Alan Partridge, for which he received several
BAFTA Awards. A prolific writer and producer who has been called a "comic genius,"
Coogan is becoming increasingly well known as a comic and dramatic actor. He will be
seen this fall in Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette and on BBC America's "Saxondale," a
comedy about a former rock-show roadie who becomes an exterminator. His recent film
credits also include the starring role in Michael Winterbottom's acclaimed comedy Tristram
Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story, as well as Don Roos's Happy Endings, Around The World In
80 Days and Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes. He'll next be seen in Hot Fuzz with Jim
Broadbent, Nick Frost and Timothy Dalton.
Coogan began doing stand up and skits in his native Manchester after graduating from drama school. For years he was a regular voice on "Spitting Image," a hugely popular puppet show that lampooned famous political and cultural figures. He soon moved on to creating his own characters, who immediately became a part of the British cultural landscape and inspired programs such as "The Office" and "Little Britain." In 1992 he won the respected Perrier Award for his show "Steve Coogan In Character With John Thompson," where he launched Paul Calf, a foul-mouthed, beer swilling Northerner who was soon joined by his sex-mad sister Pauline. But it was to be Alan Partridge, the nerdy radio DJ from Norfolk with a terrible taste in sweaters and an inflated ego, who thrust Coogan into celebrity status.
Coogan created his first big screen vehicle with writing partner Harry Normal in 2001 with The Parole Officer, which received acclaim and went on to be the one of the top grossing British films of the year. He received rave reviews for his portrayal of Tony Wilson in Michael Winterbottom's sleeper hit 24 Hour Party People, about the rise and fall of Factory Records. His production company, Baby Cow Productions, has continually come up with award-winning programs including Rob Brydon's "Marion and Geoff" and "Human Remains." The company's animated series "I Am Not an Animal," featuring Coogan in two roles, has been seen in the U.S. on the Sundance Channel.
Anne Meara (Debbie) is known as half of the
comedy team "Stiller & Meara," who gained nationwide fame as a comedy team on the "Ed
Sullivan Show." They have performed together nationally in nightclubs and regional theatres
and have made countless appearances on television. Meara also boasts an impressive solo
career. Her feature film work includes Like Mike, The Search for One Eyed Jimmy, MIA, An
Open Window, Judy Berlin, The Daytrippers, Southie and Get Well Soon with Courtney Cox.
On television, she appeared for several years as Peggy Moody on ABC's "All My Children." Other television appearances include the title role in the CBS series "Kate McShane" and recurring roles on "Rhoda," "Archie Bunker's Place," "Alf," "Sex in the City" and "King of Queens." Guest appearances include "Murder She Wrote," "Heat of the Night," "Homicide," "Ed," "Will And Grace" and "Law and Order: SVU," among many others.
Meara has received five Emmy nominations for her television work including a 1997 nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a drama series for "Homicide." She was co-writer (with Lila Garrett) and star of "The Other Woman," a CBS Movie of the Week which won a Writer's Guild Award. Anne's script "After-Play" was produced by Manhattan Theatre Club and enjoyed a sold-out run. Anne received the Outer Critic's Circle John Gassner Award for Playwriting for "After-Play". Her last play, "Down the Garden Paths," starred Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson, and was produced at The George Street Playhouse, Long Wharf Theatre and Off-Broadway at the Minetta Lane Theatre.
Shawn Levy (Director/Producer) is one of the
most commercially successful film directors of the past decade. Levy has honed his craft,
seamlessly weaving comedy and heart into captivating stories that resonate with audiences.
His youthfully enthusiastic approach to filmmaking is evident in the storylines and
characters he creates--reflecting his joyful intensity for each project at hand.
Levy is currently developing several films to produce through his production company, 21 Laps Entertainment, which is housed at Fox. These projects include The Rocker, Father Figure, and Back Magick for Fox; Me, Me, Me at New Line; and The Talent Thief for Universal.
Levy directed the 2006 hit comedy The Pink Panther, starring Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, Beyoncé Knowles, and Jean Reno. He also produced Cheaper By The Dozen 2, the sequel to his blockbuster comedy, Cheaper By The Dozen, which he directed. Starring Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Ashton Kutcher and Hilary Duff, the film was released Christmas Day 2003 and went on to gross more than $138m domestically.
Levy directed the hit romantic comedy Just Married, starring Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy. The surprise-hit film grossed over $100m worldwide. In 2002, Levy directed the family comedy Big Fat Liar, for Universal Pictures with Frankie Muniz, Paul Giamatti and Amanda Bynes.
On the television front, in 2006 Levy launched the series "Pepper Dennis," starring Rebecca Romijn. Levy served as executive producer of the series, which aired on The WB. He also directed the pilot episode. He currently has an overall television deal with Twentieth Television, through which he is developing the pilots, "The Institution" and "Swim Team."
Levy graduated at the age of 20 from the Drama Department of Yale University. He later studied film in the Masters Film Production Program at USC where he produced and directed the short film Broken Record. This film won the Gold Plaque at the Chicago Film Festival, in addition to being selected to screen at the Director's Guild of America.
Following his well-received student film, Levy spent several years directing, writing and executive producing for television. His pilots for "The Famous Jett Jackson," "So Weird," "In A Heartbeat" (all for The Disney Channel) and "Caitlin's Way" (Nickelodeon) were all picked up for series. Shawn spent two seasons as the executive producer of the hit Disney Channel series "The Famous Jett Jackson." The series, for which Levy also wrote and directed several episodes, culminated in the award winning telefilm "Jett Jackson: The Movie," which Levy produced and directed.
Chris Columbus (Producer) is a major force
in contemporary Hollywood filmmaking, from his anarchic, genre-bending 1980s classics
Gremlins and The Goonies to the recent blockbuster Harry Potter films--which are among
the most successful book-to-screen adaptations of all time.
Columbus was born in Spangler, Pennsylvania and grew up outside of Youngstown, Ohio. As a youngster, he aspired to draw cartoons for Marvel Comics and eventually made the connection between comic books and movie storyboards. In high school, he began making his own homegrown 8mm films and drawing his own storyboards (which he continues to this day). After high school, he enrolled in the Directors Program at New York University's prestigious Tisch School of the Arts.
Columbus first attained success as a screenwriter. While still in college, he sold his first script Jocks, a semi-autobiographical comedy about a Catholic schoolboy who tries out for a football team. After graduating from NYU, Columbus wrote a small town drama entitled Reckless (1984), based on his experiences as a factory worker in Ohio. The film was directed by James Foley and starred Aidan Quinn and Daryl Hannah.
Columbus gained prominence in Hollywood writing several original scripts produced by Steven Spielberg. The back-to-back hits of the Joe Dante-directed Gremlins (1984) and The Goonies (1985), helmed by Richard Donner, were decade-defining films that intertwined high notes of offbeat, edgy, often outrageous humor against more classic adventure-thriller backdrops. He next wrote the fantasy adventure Young Sherlock Holmes, which was directed by Barry Levinson.
These screenwriting achievements led Columbus to directing his first feature, Adventures in Babysitting (1987) starring Elisabeth Shue. A meeting with John Hughes brought Columbus to the helm of Home Alone (1990), the first of three collaborations. Home Alone and its hugely successful follow-up, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, were universal in appeal and launched the career of Macaulay Culkin. Only the Lonely (1991), a bittersweet comedy-drama directed by Columbus from his own screenplay, was praised for featuring one of the late John Candy's best performances, and for the return of legendary star Maureen O'Hara to the screen.
Columbus' smash hit comedy Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), starring Robin Williams and Sally Field, bent genders as well as genres, to great critical and public success. Columbus directed another comedy, Nine Months (1995), with Hugh Grant and Julianne Moore, before turning to drama with Stepmom (1998) starring Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon.
Columbus faced a daunting task when he was called upon to direct Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001), the first film based on J.K. Rowling's monumentally successful series of books. With millions of avid and sometimes fanatical readers--both young and old--in a high state of expectation and anticipation, Columbus cast completely inexperienced youngsters Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint in the leading roles as Harry Potter and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. Once again, he demonstrated his facility for nurturing and cultivating young talent and turning them into natural screen performers.
The success of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was followed by Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), which once again met with huge box office success. He served as producer on the recent Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and directed last year's film version of the Pulitzer Prize winning Broadway musical RENT.
Michael Barnathan (Producer) is President
of 1492 Pictures, in which he is a producing partner with Chris Columbus and Mark
Radcliffe. The company was formed in May 1994 and has a first look deal with Warner
Bros. Barnathan has served as producer on Nine Months, Jingle All the Way, Stepmom,
Cheaper by the Dozen, Christmas with the Kranks, Fantastic Four and most recently
RENT. He also served as executive producer for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Prior to joining 1492 Pictures, Barnathan was Senior Vice President of Production at Largo Entertainment for four years. His responsibilities included supervision of both development and production of Largo's films. Barnathan served as executive producer on Used People and supervised such productions as Point Break, Dr. Giggles, Judgment Night and The Getaway.
Before joining Largo, Barnathan spent seven years working for Edgar J. Scherick Associates. For his last two years with Scherick he served as Executive Vice President of Production. During his tenure, he produced and executive produced numerous cable movies, movies of the week and mini-series, including "The Kennedys of Massachusetts," which received nine Emmy nominations.
Robert Ben Garant (Screenplay) with his
partner, Thomas Lennon, has written the comedies Herbie: Fully Loaded, The Pacifier
starring Vin Diesel, Taxi starring Queen Latifah--and the upcoming feature comedy
Reno 911!: Miami, based on the hit Comedy Central series on which he serves as
co-creator, executive producer and star.
Garant is currently making his directorial debut with his screenplay Balls of Fury for New Line.
Garant is an executive producer, writer and star of the Comedy Central show "RENO: 911!" He performed with the comedy sketch troupe The State in the early nineties in New York City. The group went on to critical success with their self-titled hit series on MTV. "The State" was nominated for a 1995 CableACE award for Best Comedy Series and ran for three seasons. With Lennon, Garant then created, produced, wrote and occasionally starred in Comedy Central's "Viva Variety," which was an instant critical smash for the new network, and received a CableACE nomination for Best Comedy Series in 1997 and enjoyed three successful seasons.
Thomas Lennon (Screenplay), with his partner,
Robert Ben Garant, has written the comedies Herbie: Fully Loaded, The Pacifier starring
Vin Diesel, Taxi starring Queen Latifah--and the upcoming feature comedy Reno 911!:
Miami, based on the hit Comedy Central series on which he serves as co-creator, executive
producer and star.
Lennon began his career as a graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts' experimental theater wing, where he co-founded the sketch comedy troupe "The State." The group went on to critical success with their self-titled hit series on MTV, with Lennon one of its stars, producers and writers. "The State" was nominated for a 1995 CableACE award for Best Comedy Series and ran for three seasons. Lennon then created, produced and starred in Comedy Central's "Viva Variety," which was an instant critical smash for the new network, and received a CableACE nomination for Best Comedy Series in 1997 and enjoyed three successful seasons.
Lennon is the co-creator, executive producer and star of the Comedy Central show "RENO 911!" Lennon has had guest roles on NBC's "Friends," "Jesse" and "MDs," and he also co-created and starred in the pilot "Hey Neighbor!" for Fox Television. Lennon has appeared in the films "Memento," "Out Cold," "A Guy Thing," "How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days" and "Le Divorce."
Mark Radcliffe (Producer), who served as
producer on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and executive producer on both
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,
continued his long-term collaboration with Chris Columbus as producer on RENT. He
previously served as producer on the box office hits Mrs. Doubtfire, Stepmom,
Fantastic Four, Nine Months, Christmas with the Kranks and Jingle All the Way, having
also been executive producer on Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, co-producer of Only
the Lonely and associate producer and assistant director on Home Alone. He and Columbus
first worked together on Heartbreak Hotel.
A native of Oklahoma, Radcliffe began his film career as assistant director on the Francis Ford Coppola production The Escape Artist. He later worked for Coppola on Rumble Fish and Peggy Sue Got Married. Other credits include assistant director on John Hughes' She's Having a Baby and Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Jerry Zucker's Ghost, Donald Petrie's Mystic Pizza and Paul Schrader's Light of Day.
Guillermo Navarro, ASC (Director of Photography)
was born and raised in Mexico City. He moved to France to work as an apprentice and
assistant to director of photography Ricardo Aronovich, AFC. Upon his return to Mexico,
Navarro shot the critically acclaimed film Cabeza de Vaca for director Nicolas Echeverria,
earning a Best Cinematography award from the Mexican Academy. The movie was also Mexico's
entry for Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards. Navarro moved to Los Angeles and has
frequently collaborated with directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino on such
films as Desperado, Four Rooms, From Dusk Till Dawn and Jackie Brown.
Navarro credits also include a number of action and effects movies including The Long Kiss Goodnight, Zathura, Spawn and Stuart Little. He has enjoyed a long-time collaboration with Guillermo Del Toro and served as cinematographer on Cronos, The Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy.
Claude Paré (Production Designer) was
honored with an Academy Award, BAFTA and LAFCA (Los Angeles Film Critics Association)
Awards for Best Art Direction for The Aviator, on which he served as supervising art
director. Prior to The Aviator, he served as supervising art director on Roland
Emmerich's blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow.
In 2002, Paré art directed Beyond Borders starring Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen. He served as supervising art director on Frank Oz's The Score, starring Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando and Edward Norton; The Sum Of All Fears, starring Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman; Battlefield Earth starring John Travolta and Forest Whittaker; The Bone Collector starring Denzel Washington; and 7 Years In Tibet, starring Brad Pitt.
Paré, a native of Montreal, served as production designer on the Canadian features This Is My Father, Les Boys, La Comtesse De Baton Rouge and Rainbow; and as supervising art director on Grey Owl, directed by Richard Attenborough and starring Piece Brosnan.
Don Zimmerman, A.C.E.'s (Editor) recent
feature film editing credits include Fun With Dick And Jane, Flight Of The Phoenix,
The Cat In The Hat and Just Married. Zimmerman also cut the Fox feature A Walk In
The Clouds (shared credit) and served as editor on Nutty Professor, Liar, Liar, Half
Baked, Patch Adams and Dragonfly.
His early work as a film editor includes two of Hal Ashby's classic films: Being There starring Peter Sellers and Coming Home starring Jon Voigt and Jane Fonda. He went on to cut Sylvester Stallone's starring vehicles Rocky III and Rocky IV (shared credit).
Zimmerman also served as editor on the feature films Friends for Norman Jewison; Roxanne for Fred Schepisi; Prince Of Tides, directed by Barbra Streisand; Everyone is All-American, Fatal Beauty, Navy Seals, Diggstown, Indecent Proposal, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Scout.
Jim Rygiel (VFX Director/Additional Second
Unit Director) collaborated with Peter Jackson, as VFX Supervisor on all three installments
of the Academy Award and BAFTA winning The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. He also served as
2nd Unit Director (uncredited) on The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, the final
installment of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fable. Rygiel was honored with the AFI Digital Effects
Artist award for the first episode in the trilogy and the two latter episodes received Visual
Effect Society Awards for Best Visual Effects in an Effects Driven Movie.
Rygiel previously designed the visual effects for the feature Click starring Adam Sandler. He served as visual effects supervisor on Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers, Jonathan Frakes' Star Trek: Insurrection, Species starring Ben Kingsley and Wolfgang Peterson's Outbreak, starring Dustin Hoffman, Renee Russo, Kevin Spacey and Morgan Freeman.
Earlier in his career, Rygiel served as digital supervisor on the VFX-laden action adventures, Batman Returns, Last Action Hero, Cliffhanger and Last Of The Mohicans.
Renée April (Costume Designer) most
recently designed costumes for Marcus Nispel's fantasy epic about Vikings and American
Indians, Pathfinder, and for Darren Aranofsky's time-traveling story The Fountain. She
previously worked with director Roland Emmerich on the Fox blockbuster The Day After
Tomorrow, starring Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal. She also designed the costumes for
the award winning drama Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, starring George Clooney, Sam
Rockwell and Drew Barrymore; and in a lighter vein April worked with director Bill
Paxton on the sports drama The Greatest Game Ever Played.
April earlier collaborated with director Alan Rudolph on the acclaimed period dramas The Moderns and Mrs. Parker And The Vicious Circle, starring Jennifer Jason Leigh and Matthew Broderick. Her other film credits include Children Of A Lesser God, starring William Hurt and Marlee Matlin; Agnes Of God, directed by Norman Jewison and starring Jane Fonda and Meg Tilly; Black Robe, directed by Bruce Beresford and the critically acclaimed independent from Working Title Films, Map Of The Human Heart.
April is a native of Montreal whose Canadian film credits include the critically acclaimed Red Violin, starring Samuel Jackson and Greta Scacchi; and Grey Owl, starring Pierce Brosnan, which garnered April the Genie Award (Canadian Oscar) for Achievement In Costume Design. April also received a Genie for her work on The Bay Boy, starring Liv Ullman and Kiefer Sutherland, and was nominated for a Genie on Pen Densham's The Kiss, starring Joanna Pacula.
Alan Silvestri (Music) recently received an
Oscar® nomination and won a Grammy for the song "Believe" written for Robert Zemeckis'
Polar Express. He formerly earned nominations from both the Academy and the Golden Globes
for Best Score for Zemeckis' Forrest Gump. In addition to Polar Express and Forrest Gump, he
has scored many other motion pictures for director Zemeckis including Cast Away, What Lies
Beneath, Contact, Romancing the Stone, all three Back to the Future films, Who Framed Roger
Rabbit? and Death Becomes Her.
Silvestri's other recent credits include The Wild, Van Helsing, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Identity, Maid in Manhattan, The Mummy Returns, The Mexican, Stuart Little and Stuart Little 2, Lilo and Stitch and Serendipity. Among his additional film credits are What Women Want, Reindeer Games, Star Trek: Insurrection, Practical Magic, The Parent Trap, Mousehunt, Volcano, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Eraser, Sgt. Bilko, Grumpier Old Men, Father of the Bride Part II, Judge Dredd, The Perez Family, The Quick and the Dead, Richie Rich, Blown Away, The Bodyguard, Grumpy Old Men, Judgment Night, Super Mario Brothers, FernGully: The Last Rainforest, Father of the Bride, Shattered, Ricochet, Soapdish, Predator 2, Young Guns II, The Abyss, Overboard, Predator, Outrageous Fortune, Flight of the Navigator, Clan of the Cave Bear, American Anthem and Fandango.