“The wolf passed along something to me,
a scrap of its spirit,
in my blood or something.
I don’t know what it is.
I’m just… different.
– Will Randall
Will Randall, a Manhattan book editor haunted by fears of losing his job, drives absently along a remote country road one snowy Sunday night.
Suddenly, he’s forced to slam on his brakes as a dark figure looms for an instant ahead. There is a jolt, and his car skids off to the side of the road. He emerges, cautiously, and follows a thin trail
of blood which leads through the snow to a great dark wolf. Will can’t see it at first, but the beast is alive. As it rises to escape into the night, it bites turn on the wrist.
From this moment on, Will’s life begins to change. The transformation is subtle at first, as his senses become more acute and his perceptions of those around him sharpen. With each passing day he is drawn deeper into the mystical feral spirit of the wolf. For Will Randall, nothing — not his job, not his marriage, not any part of his life — will ever be the same again.
Jack Nicholson stars as Will Randall in Mike Nichols’ “Wolf,” a romantic thriller and contemporary tale of the supernatural. Also starring are Michelle Pfeiffer (as the one woman who gets close to Will), James Spader (as his colleague), Kate Nelligan (as his wife) and Christopher Plummer (as his unforgiving employer). The screenplay is written by Jim Harrison (Sundog, Legends of the Fall) and Wesley Strick. Douglas Wick is producer, with Neil Machlis and Robert Greenhut as executive producers. “Wolf’ is released by Columbia Pictures. Producer Douglas Wick seized on the idea of “Wolf’ when Jim Harrison first mentioned it to him. At that time, Harrison was merely considering the concept He and Wick spent a year shaping the impulse into a story. Wick nurtured the project, developing it for Harrison’s old friend Jack Nicholson and bringing in Mike Nichols as director.
“Jim Harrison works deep from his gut,” explains Wick. “Mike Nichols reached in there, grabbed hold of this powerful impulse and pulled it into the light of day.”
Harrison says that the seed for “Wolf” was planted over fifteen years ago, when his youngest daughter, Anna, challenged him to write something that would frighten her. “This is positive,” he says,
“as I have a very large image pool in my brain of things that might do the job.” One night in his cabin in Michigan’s upper peninsula, Harrison himself suffered what he terms “a modest attack of lycanthropy” (the delusion that one has become a wolf). “I woke up, jumped out of my bed, tore off the doors of the cabin, rubbed my hand over my face and felt fur on it. And I felt a snout. It lasted about twenty minutes. My dogs didn’t forgive me for a week. It was not pleasant and not something I particularly want to experience again.”
PLEASE KEEP OUR SECRETS: The filmmakers would be grateful if you would
refrain from telling your readers or viewers about what happens in the third act of
“Wolf.” Thanks for your understanding and cooperation.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION…
It was the Kafka-esque aspect of “Wolf’ that first appealed to Mike Nichols. “Like ‘Metamorphosis,’ this is a poetic expression of an inner state,” Nichols says. “It’s a metaphor for the experience of becoming different from everyone else and leaving humanity behind, which is a kind of nightmare that happens to people in the middle of their lives. There’s also the idea that, on the other side of such a horror, there is something that isn’t necessarily only dark, that endings aren’t necessarily endings, and metamorphoses and changes aren’t necessarily only bad.”
Nichols sees “Wolf” as transcending the horror genre. “I think of it more as an adventure picture,” he says. “It’s the adventure of becoming something else and being empowered at first by all sorts of sensory increases and gifts and abilities you didn’t have before, and finally, the price that’s paid for that; the great price. I think that certainly some of it is horror, but I hope more of it is adventure, and a journey into fantasy that may have a corollary in real life.”
Nichols stresses that Will’s transformation into a wolf is not necessarily something to be envied.
“Becoming a wolf is not preferable to remaining a human being. How can it be? That would be a sentimental and untrue thing to say. We don’t present this as a sort of desirable, ‘Greenpeace’ thing to happen. It’s dark, frightening.
“This is a time in which there are terrible diseases, and terrible things happening to people through circumstances that no one can control. Trying to make some sense of that, and find some hope within it, is also one of the impulses of the picture. ‘Wolf’ is not an AIDS metaphor, but it is about a world in which uncontrollable things are happening to people, and our need to deal with this on a spiritual level, and to find some honor, within the horror.”
Jack Nicholson concurs: “I think what we’ve tried to do with this script is to eliminate any of those kinds of value judgments as to whether Will is better, off as a wolf. You know, there are good wolves and bad wolves. Mike and I discussed that point at great length. Neither of us wanted to make a film that says we’re better off being wolves. That’s not what it’s about. In fact, Will resists becoming a wolf, and it’s only the events of the story that make him unable to.”
Nicholson has always been intrigued by the idea of playing a werewolf. “I had an idea that I wanted to do for years,” he says. “This was back before the new special effects revolution. I wanted to call it ‘Wolfman, No Makeup.’ I wanted to do these old-time tricks–you know, fall down behind the couch, come up with a beard, all that stuff. I’d always had that idea in my mind, and then Jim Harrison had a personal experience involving lycanthropy. We got to talking about it, and he sent me
the treatment for ‘Wolf.’ That was about three, four, five years ago.”
Nicholson’s research for “Wolf’ involved “reading a lot of books on wolves, and watching a lot of films and tape on their behavior. I did not go out and live with wolves. One of my neighbors actually had a wolf, a young she-wolf, and I watched it. I watched my dog teach it to swim. When it really started to grow, and to reach the stage where you really had to keep an eye on it, they had to get rid of it. They’re still wild animals.”
For Nichols, “It’s impossible to imagine this picture without Jack. The difference between Jack and other actors–between Jack and other men–is that his ‘underneath’ is on the surface. He’s always Jack–uncensored, uncontrolled. Because his nature is largely a sweet one, it’s very pleasing, but also the darker parts of him are not hidden. He’s kind of a walking id. At the same time he’s a very sophisticated person. It’s not that he’s a wild man, it’s that his nature is absolutely free. And yet he’s very much concerned about the feelings of other people, and that’s the kind of wolf that he becomes.
He’s a wolf of delicacy and sensibility, not a mad creature roaming the night and tearing throats out.”
Nicholson also says that this is a highly contemporary take on a theme that is the stuff of modern legend. “There is a specific classical mythology about this subject that we can’t help but draw on; we use variations on particular themes. But most of the classic werewolf movies were made in the 1940s, when the sexual components had to be neutralized. The myth of the werewolf is a sexual myth: Eventually, he kills the one he loves. Laura is the one who is in the most danger from Will.”
It is Laura Alden (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) who understands Will, and who offers him her love regardless of the consequences. She is the daughter of Will’s unscrupulous publishing magnate boss, Alden (played by Christopher Plummer). “Laura has always been the outcast, the black sheep within her family,” Pfeiffer says. “And I think that the wildness within her is attracted to the newfound wildness in Will. She’s used to caring for wounded animals in her life, metaphorically spealcing, and I think that Will is another wounded animal. That’s how she cares for him, and it comes as a complete surprise to her.”
“I think that Laura is somebody who, all her life, has had all the things that other people are supposed to want,” says Nichols. “But in reality she’s so unhappy. She’s never been able to make anything work to her satisfaction. So she’s drawn to powerful experiences. Beneath the surface of her princess’ life are tragedy and despair. She also has a sense, as Will does, that in some way the world is ending. And she’s deeply pained by the cruelty of the world, and the suffering of its victims. When she meets Will, she’s very touched by his pain and openness, and also by his sense of defeat, because she also feels defeated. As he begins to feel empowered, revitalized as a new creature, she’s more and more drawn to him. Until now, she has not met anyone to match the subterranean expansiveness of her nature.”
“Wolf” marks a reunion for Mike Nichols and Jack Nicholson, who have worked together on three films previously: “Carnal Knowledge” (1971), “The Fortune” (1975) and “Heartburn” (1986). In addition, Nichols once again chose some of his favorite behind-the-scenes collaborators: costume designer Ann Roth, who has done every Nichols film since “Silkwood,” director of photography Giuseppe Rotunno, A.S.C. (“Carnal Knowledge,” “Regarding Henry”) and editor Sam O’Steen, who numbers all but one of Nichols’ films in his credits. Producer Douglas Wick (“Working Girl”) and executive producers Neil Machlis (“Postcards from the Edge”) and Robert Greenhut (“Working Girl,” “Postcards from the Edge,” “Regarding Henry”) completed the list of longtime Nichols colleagues.
New York, the city in which Nichols makes his home, has played an integral part in many of his films. The 1993 New York he depicts in “Wolf” is “literally, physically falling apart–the streets, the buildings, the plumbing, the sewer system, the infrastructure. This is a time when things are both disintegrating and changing.” To aid him in creating the realm of menace and nightmare that surrounds Will Randall, Nichols hired Bo Welch as production designer. Welch designed the memorable fantasy worlds of many of Tim Burton’s films, including “Beetlejuice,” “Batman Returns” and “Edward Scissorhands.”
“The basic look of ‘Wolf’ changes according to the changing perceptions of Will Randall,” says Welch. “The film begins in a sort of anemic world where people have ignored their animal nature and are not doing as well as they’d like. In these scenes, New York City appears dull, decayed and monochromatic—we withheld most of the color and life from it. We also emphasized images of containment–bars, grids and fences. But the question is: Who is caged and who is free? If you’re not
in touch with the animal within, you are, in effect, a caged beast.
“After Will begins changing, the things he sees have a heightened quality–his apartment becomes even more claustrophobic and cluttered, the ceiling becomes lower, the bar and grid motifs are more apparent, the walls close in. MacLeish House, the publishing company where Will works, is extremely cluttered with books and paper. Will’s own office is tiny, and the colors are flat, brown and depressing.”
To create the interior of the MacLeish House publishing company, the filmmakers used Los Angeles’ landmark Bradbury Building, a stunning light-filled atrium of glass, ironwork and marble that has just celebrated its 100th birthday with a striking restoration. “The ironwork suggests a zoo or prison to me,” Welch says. “For all the Bradbury Building’s beauty, it is depicted in the film as a fancy jail.”
In sharp contrast to this is Alden Manor, set on rambling grounds and surrounded by deep woods. It is here that Will feels most alive, and where he finds Laura, who becomes his salvation.
For these scenes, the “Wolf” company spent a month on location at Old Westbury Gardens in Westbury, Long Island. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this 1906 estate was the former home of railroad magnate John S. Phipps and his wife Margarita Grace Phipps. It was designed by the English architect George A. Crawley in the Charles II style and is surrounded by 88 acres of formal gardens, tree-lined walks, grand allees, ponds, statuary. and architectural follies. It served as the perfect embodiment of Alden’s “old-money” status and, with its broad, open perspectives, emphasized the freedom Will begins to feel when he finds himself confronting nature.
The extended scenes taking place in and around Laura’s cottage and the stables were filmed on Stage 27 at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, CA. Nearly a month was spent carefully choreographing and filming the climax of “Wolf” on a detailed outdoor set Welch conceived and created, which took up the entire stage. Filled with real evergreens, the stage bore the aroma of the Great Outdoors. Cast and crew began referring to Stage 27 as “the Christmas tree lot.”
Following a precedent set by Spencer Tracy in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (1941), Jack, Nicholson chose to use minimal makeup in depicting Will’s transformation, relying instead on his skill as an actor to show the beast within. Only at the film’s climax is Will seen as a fully transformed wolf. Academy Award®-winner Rick Baker designed this special make-up. “Jack’s full preparation time was only two hours,” says Baker. “As Jack’s face is already fairly angular, all he needed to sharpen his features was a rubber prosthesis at the top of his nose, between the eyes.”
The first medical dictionary ever published in the English language, Stephen Blancard’s A Physical Dictionaty (1684), includes this entry: “Lycanthropia: a Madness proceeding from a Mad wolf, wherein Men imitate the howling of Wolves.” Other descriptions of lycanthropy date back at least as far as the writings of Marcellus of Side, who died in 161 AD. As a psychiatric disorder, lycanthropy is still very much with us. French psychiatrist Michel Benezech, an authority on lycanthropy, reported the case of a 28-year-old lycanthropic murderer in 1989. “Monsieur A” described his own symptoms: “It’s when I was bitten by a rabid dog.. .When I’m emotionally upset, I feel as if I’m turning into something else.. .1 get the feeling I’m becoming a wolf. I look at myself in the mirror and I witness my transformation. It’s no longer my face; it changes completely. I stare, my pupils dilate, and I feel as if hairs are growing all over my body, as if my teeth are getting longer…I feel as if
my skin is no longer mine.”
Harrison notes: “Lycanthropy tended to arise as a phenomenon during historical periods of extreme suppression of natural instincts. Like right now. The idea for ‘Wolf springs from Native American stories about men turning into animals, and also from children’s stories with similar themes.
[French philosopher Michel] Foucault, too, inspired it–the fact that modern man feels nervous, because we all live in a zoo. Sometimes to get out of this zoo, one needs to go to any lengths. For obvious reasons, this idea appeals to Alpha-type males under serious pressure.”
ABOUT THE CAST…
Jack Nicholson (Will Randall) now in the fifth decade of his acting career, is a star whose critical acclaim and box office power are legendary. Most recently he starred in “Hoffa” and “A Few Good Men,” and received his tenth Oscar® nomination for the latter.
Born in New York City and raised in Neptune, New Jersey, he moved to Los Angeles at the age of 17. After working in the cartoon department at MGM and in other jobs, he made his acting debut in a Hollywood stage production of “Tea and Sympathy.” Nicholson studied acting with Jeff Corey and Martin Landau and worked with Theatre West. He is an Actors’ Studio member.
After roles in daytime television series, including “Divorce Court” and “Matinee Theatre,” Nicholson made his motion picture acting debut as a teenager who thinks he’s a murderer in “Cry Baby Killer.” The film began a decade of collaboration with producer-director Roger Corman. Nicholson’s early films include “The Little Shop of Horrors,” “The Raven,” and two films directed by Monte Hellman: “The Shooting,” which Nicholson co-produced, and “Ride the Whirlwind,” which he co-
produced and co-wrote. During this period Nicholson was screenwriter for “The Trip” and Bob Rafelson’s cult favorite “Head.”
Nicholson first received international recognition for his performance in “Easy Rider,” which brought him his first New York Film Critics Award and first Oscar® nomination. He made his motion picture directorial debut with “Drive, He Said” starring Karen Black and Bruce Dern. He has since directed two other films, “Goin’ South” and “The Two Jalces,” and also starred in both.
Nicholson has won Academy Awards® for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Terms of Endearment.” He has also received ten Oscar® nominations for such films as “Ironweed,” “Prizzi’s Honor,” “Reds,” “Chinatown,” “The Last Detail,” “Five Easy Pieces” and “Easy Rider.”
Among his other honors are the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Reds,” a BAFTA nomination for “Batman” (as The Joker), a Cannes Film Festival Award for “The Last Detail,” and ten awards from the New York Film Critics’ Circle.
Michelle Pfeiffer (Laura Alden) is a three-time Academy Award® nominee, most recently for Jonathan Kaplan’s “Love Field.” She was also nominated for her performances in “The Fabulous Baker Boys” and “Dangerous Liaisons,” and received a Golden Globe nomination for “Frankie and Johnny.” For “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” she received awards from the New York Film Critics, The National Society of Film Critics and the Los Angeles Film Critics.
Raised in Southern California, Pfeiffer attended junior college before deciding on an acting career. She was selected during a nationwide talent search to make her film debut in “Grease 2.”
During these early years, she was a student of acting teacher Peggy Feury.
Pfeiffer was soon starring in a number of motion pictures, from period adventure to modem comedy. In twelve films she has created a memorable gallery of characters, from the blowzy lounge singer of “The Fabulous Baker Boys” to the fragile Madame de Tourvel in Stephen Frears’s “Dangerous Liaisons” to New York-accented Mafia housewife Angela Buffalino in Jonathan Demme’s “Married to the Mob.” Film audiences have most recently seen her in “Love Field” and “Batman Returns” (as Catwoman).
Among Pfeiffer’s other films are Brian De Palma’s “Scarface,” John Landis’s “Into the Night,” Richard Donner’s “Ladyhawke,” Alan Alda’s “Sweet Liberty,” George Miller’s “The Witches of Eastwicic,” and Robert Towne’s “Tequila Sunrise.” She most recently starred in Martin Scorsese’s “The Age of Innocence,” with Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder, based on the classic American novel by Edith Wharton.
James Spader (Stewart Swinton) firmly established himself as a major screen actor with his breakthrough film “sex, lies and videotape,” in which he played the voyeuristic, impotent Graham. He received the Best Actor award at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival for his performance.
In “Wolf” he plays Will’s back-stabbing protege, whose greed and unscrupulousness begin to take on horrific proportions.
Born in Boston to a family of educators, Spader discovered acting while attending high school and later moved to New York to pursue his career. He studied at the Michael Chekov Studio and performed with the Actors’ Studio in New York. His stage appearances have included “Forty-Year-Old Man,” “Sundown Beach,” “Equus,” “The Lion in Winter,” “Veronica’s Room” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Spader made his debut in “Endless Love.” His other films include “White Palace,” “True Colors,” “Bad Influence,” “Baby Boom,” “Jack’s Back,” “Less Than Zero,” “Wall Street,” “Storyville,” “Mannequin,” “Pretty in Pink,” “• The Music of Chance,” and most recently “Dream Lover”. This fall Spader will be seen starring in “Stargate” opposite Kurt Russell.
A recent Academy Award® nominee for her performance as Lila Wingo Newbury in Barbra Streisand’s “The Prince of Tides,” Kate Nelligan (Charlotte Randall) alternates between stage and screen appearances. She has received accolades for both.
Born in London, Ontario, Canada, she first became interested in drama at university. She moved to England to study at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama. After her professional debut with the Bristol Old Vic in 1973, she won national recognition in London’s West End in “Knuckle.” London critics voted to give her the Evening Standard Award as the most promising actress of 1974. Accepting an offer to join the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain, she starred in many
productions, including “Heartbreak House” for director John Schlesinger and “Tales from the Vienna Woods,” directed by Maximilian Schell. She has also played Rosalind with the Royal Shakespeare Company in “As You Like It.”
She appeared in major productions on British television, including the David Hare dramas “Licking Hitler” and “Dreams of Leaving,” plus “Therese Raquin,” “Measure for Measure” and “The Lady of the Camelias.”
Ms. Nelligan created the role of Susan Traheme in David Hare’s “Plenty” at the Royal National Theatre, receiving the Evening Standard Award as best actress of the 1978-79 season. She re-created the role when the play moved to New York’s Public Theatre and on to Broadway, where it brought her the first of her four Tony Award nominations.
Moving to the United States in 1981, she earned a second Tony nomination for Eugene O’Neill’s “A Moon for the Misbegotten” and a third for “Serious Money.” She was honored with a fourth Tony nomination for “The Spoils of War” in 1988.
Her movie career began in England with “The Count of Monte Cristo,” “The Romantic Englishwoman,” “Dracula” and “The Eye of the Needle.” In the U.S., she subsequently starred as the
mother of a kidnap victim in “Without a Trace,” played a Greek woman executed by Communists after World War II in “Eleni,” and starred in “White Room,” which opened Toronto’s Festival of Festivals in 1990.
After completing her work on “The Prince of Tides,” she starred with John Malkovich in a film of Pinter’s play “Old Times” for the BBC and then went on to film the romantic comedy “Frankie and
Johnny,” in which she played a lovesick waitress She received a British Academy Award and the Best Supporting Actress award from the National Board of Review for her work in that film. Ms. Nelligan was most recently seen in Carl Reiner’s “Fatal Instinct,” a spoof in which she played a Barbara Stanwyck-style femme fatak.
Christopher Plummer (Alden), dubbed “the finest classical actor of the Americas” by The Washington Post, has built an extraordinarily varied career on stage, screen and television.
Born in Montreal, Plummer began acting on stage and radio in Canada in the late 1940s.
Edward Everett Horton brought him to the U.S. to co-star in the national tour of Andre Roussin’s “Nina.” He made his Broadway debut opposite Eva Le Gallienne in “The Starcross Story.” Over the ensuing years he was to become a star of the commercial theatres of Broadway and London’s West End As a leading actor at Great Britain’s National Theatre, The Royal Shakespeare Company, and the Stratford Festival of Canada, he has portrayed many of the great classical roles including Hamlet, Henry V, Benedict, Richard III, two Marc Antonys, Danton, Cyrano, Oedipus Rex, Orestes, Agamemmnon, and many others.
Mr. Plummer has received numerous acting awards including Great Britain’s Evening Standard Award, a Drama Desk Award, a Tony, and an Emmy. In his native Canada, he was the first to receive the Maple Leaf Award for Arts and Letters.
Among his nearly fifty films are “The Sound of Music,” “The Man Who Would Be King,” “Murder By Decree,” “The Royal Hunt of the Sun,” and “Eyewitness.” He has also appeared in television versions of such plays as “Hamlet,” “Man and Superman,” and “After the Fall.”
Eileen Atkins (Mary) has built her acclaimed career in both the U.S. and her native England. Born in London, she was a student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and spent several years in repertory with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Old Vic.
In 1965 she won the Evening Standard Award for Best Actress for her performance as Childie in “The Killing of Sister George,” and she subsequently made her New York debut in the play. Among her other London stage appearances have been “Semi-Detached” with Laurence Olivier, “Exit the King” with Alec Guinness, and John Schlesinger’s National Theatre production of “Heartbreak House,” in which she played Hesione. She received an Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress in Peter Hall’s production of “The Winter’s Tale” and was nominated for an Olivier as Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Hannah Jelkes in Tennessee William’s “The Night of the Iguana,” directed by Richard Eyre, at the Lyttleton Theatre. In 1989 she received great acclaim for her one-woman show “A Room of One’s Own,” in which she appeared as Virginia Woolf. During her U.S. tour of the play, she received a Drama Desk award, a Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics Circle, and a Los Angeles Theatre Critics Award.
She is the co-creator of two highly acclaimed television series: “Upstairs, Downstairs” and “The House of Elliott.” Among Ms. Atkins’ film appearances are “The Dresser,” “Equus,” and “Let Him Have It.” She is also a familiar face on British television. Just a few of her credits include TV versions of such plays as “Three Sisters,” “Major Barbara,” and “Titus Andronicus.” She was recently seen in the U.S. in BBC Television’s “The Lost Language of Cranes.”
Prunella Scales (Maude Waggins) has enjoyed a prolific career as both actress and director. British-born, she trained at the Old Vic Theatre School in London and with Uta Hagen in New York. Among her many stage appearances have been “The Matchmaker” (Chichester Festival), “Long Day’s Journey into Night” and “School for Scandal” (both for the National Theatre), “What the Butler Saw,” “Miss in her Teens” and “The Merchant of Venice” (all at the Old Vic) and such West End productions as “Quartermaine’s Terms,” “Make and Break” and “Some Singing Blood,” among many others. Her critically acclaimed one woman show “An Evening With Queen Victoria” has been seen all over the world. Her credits as a stage director include “Lady Windermere’s Fan” at the Watford Palace Theatre, “The Woodcarver” at the Bristol Old Vic, and “Uncle Vanya” at the Perth Playhouse in Australia.
Her films include “Howards End,” “A Chorus of Disapproval,” “Consuming Passions,” “The Lonely Passion of Judith Herne, “Boys From Brazil” and the upcoming “An Awfully Big Adventure.”
Much of her extensive television work has been seen in the U.S., most notably John Schlesinger’s “A Question of Attributions’ in which she played the Queen, and the two popular “Mapp and Lucia” series.
She is well known to American audiences for her portrayal of Sybil in the comedy, series “Fawlty Towers.”
Richard Jenkins (Detective Bridger) has been seen in such films as “Sea of Love,” “Blaze,” “The Witches of Eastwick,” “Little Nikita,’ “Blue Steel,” “Stealing Home,” “Silverado” and “Hannah and her Sisters.” Most recently, Richard completed the upcoming features “It Happened In Paradise” and “It Can Happen to You.” On television, Jenkins appeared in the acclaimed HBO movie “And the Band Played On.” Richard has just completed his fourth season as the Artistic Director of the
Trinity Repertory Company in Providene, Rhode Island.
David Hyde Pierce (Roy) has appeared in such films as “Addams Family Values,” “Sleepless In Seattle,” “Little Man Tate,” “The Fisher King,” “Crossing Delancey,” “Rocket Gibraltar” and “Bright Lights, Big City.” His television appearances include “Dream On,” “Crime Story” and “Spenser for Hire,” and he was a series regular on “The Powers That Be.” He is currently starring asNiles on the network TV series “Frasier.”
New York theatre-goers have seen him on Broadway in “The Heidi Chronicles” and “Beyond Therapy,” and off-Broadway in “Elliott Loves” (directed by Mike Nichols), “The Cherry Orchard” (directed by Peter Brook) and “Hamlet” (directed by Liviu Ciulei). Regional theatres where he has acted include the Long Wharf, the Guthrie, the Goodman, and the Doolittle.
Om Puri (Dr. Alezais), one of India’s most distinguished actors, is a veteran of well over 100 films. He has been seen by American audiences in “Gandhi,” “The Jewel in the Crown,” “Sam and Me” and had a starring role in Roland Joffe’s “City of Joy.” He was seen on British television in the five-hour miniseries “Minas” and the 52-episode series “Discovery of India,” in which he played 20 different major characters.
Pun’s career is based in India’s art cinema rather than in the commercial films that pour out of Bombay at the rate of some 800 a year. He has worked in a wide range of roles with most of the country’s great directors, including Satyajit Ray, Shyam Benegal and Mrinal Sen.
Born in the Punjab in Northern India, Puri graduated from India’s National School of Drama in New Delhi before studying film acting for two years at the Film and Television Institute in India in Pune. He then moved to Bombay, where he formed his own theatre group.
Puri has received numerous awards during his career. Among them are India’s National Award for Best Actor (1981 and 1984), Best Actor at Czechoslovakia’s Karlovy Vary Film Festival (1984), and the Soviet Land Nehru Award (1986). In 1989 he was honored with the Indian government’s prestigious Padma Shri award, given to leaders in various fields for their contributions to society.
Ron Rifkin (Doctor) received the 1992 Obie, Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel awards when he created the role of Isaac Geldhart in Jon Robin Baitz’s play “The Substance of Fire,” which was staged at Playwright’s Horizons and Lincoln Center. Most recently he was nominated for a Drama Desk for his performance as Kenneth Hoyle in Baitz’s “Three Hotels.” Among his other New York stage credits are “The Tenth Man,” “The Art of Dining,” “The Goodbye People,” “Come Blow Your
Horn” and “Temple.” At the Ahmanson he appeared in “Detective Story,” and at the Mark Taper Forum in “Rosenbloom,” “Afternoon Tea,” “Scandalous Memories,” “Three Sisters,” “Cross Country,” “Ice,” “Gethsemane Springs,” and “Ghetto.” Regionally he has performed with the Alley Theatre in Houston, the Williamstown Theatre Festival and the New York Stage and Film Co. at Vassar.
Rifkin’s extensive television work includes numerous miniseries and Movies-of-the-Week, appearances on such programs as “Law and Order,” “Soap” and “Hill Street Blues,” and co-starring regular roles on six series, most recently “The Trials of Rosie O’Neill.” His films include “Husbands and Wives,” “Manhattan Murder Mystery,” “JFK,” “The Big Fix,” “The Sting II,” “The Sunshine Boys” and “Silent Running.”
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS…
In a career which stretches back over nearly 40 years, Mike Nichols (Director) has won almost every imaginable award, including an Oscar®, an Emmy, seven Tonys, a Directors’ Guild Award and the New York Film Critics’ Award.
Nichols was born in Berlin. His father, a Russian doctor, moved the family to New York in 1939 to escape Nazi persecution. After attending a number of schools in the New York area, Nichols began studies at the University of Chicago. For two years he shuttled between New York and Chicago, studying acting with Lee Strasberg and working a series of odd jobs. He left college and helped form an acting company which evolved first into the Compass Players and then into The Second City. His colleagues included Elaine May, Alan Arkin, Shelly Berman, Barbara Harris and Zohra Lampert.
In 1957, Nichols and Elaine May launched their now-legendary comedy team. After four successful years, including a one-year sold-out Broadway engagement, they elected to end the partnership and pursue other interests independently.
Nichols made his debut as a Broadway director in 1963 with Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park” starring Robert Redford. His work earned him his first Tony Award. He went on to direct a string of critical and commercial hits: “The Knack,” “Luv,” “The Odd Couple,” “The Apple Tree,” “Plan Suite,” and “The Prisoner of Second Avenue,” all of which won Tony Awards. He also directed “Streamers,” voted Best Play by the New York Drama Critics, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Gin
In 1966 Nichols made his debut as a film director with “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal and Sandy Dennis. The film won five Oscars®, including Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for Taylor and Dennis. His second film, “The Graduate,” introduced a new star in Dustin Hoffman and earned Nichels the 1967 Academy Award® for Best Director. One of the most influential films of the Sixties, “The Graduate” was an enormous critical and popular success.
Nichols next filmed Joseph Heller’s classic contemporary novel “Catch-22” with Jon Voight,Alan Arkin and Richard Benjamin, and followed this with “Carnal Knowledge,” based on an original screenplay by Jules Feiffer. Darkly comic and at times brutal, the film starred Jack Nicholson, Art Garfunkel, Candice Bergen and Ann-Margret. Nichols’ then-daring casting of Ann-Margret in the role of Nicholson’s depressed mistress paid off with an Academy Award® nomination for Best Supporting
After his next two films, “The Day of the Dolphin” and “The Fortune,” Nichols produced the smash Broadway musical “Annie.” “Annie” won seven Tony Awards and spawned numerous touring productions as well as a feature film version. It has almost never been absent from the world’s stages since it first opened on Broadway in 1977.
Nichols ended a seven-year hiatus from the screen with the acclaimed “Silkwood” (1983) which earned Oscar® nominations for himself, Meryl Streep and the screenplay by Nora Ephron and Alice Arlen.
Since then, Nichols continues to work in both film and theatre. His recent films have included “Heartburn,” “Biloxi Blues,” “Working Girl” (six Oscar® nominations, including picture, director, actress and supporting actress), “Postcards from the Edge” and “Regarding Henry.” On Broadway he has directed Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing” (Tony Award), David Rabe’s “Hurlyburly,” the comedy “Social Security,” which enjoyed a long run with Mario Thomas and Ron Silver, and Ariel Dorfman’s “Death and the Maiden” with Glenn Close, Gene Hackman and Richard Dreyfuss. He also mounted Whoopi Goldberg’s 1984 one-woman show, which first brought her national attention. He also
directed Jules Feiffer’s “Elliott Loves” in Chicago and at the Promenade Theatre in New York, and Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” in a sold-out run at the Mitzi Newhouse Theatre in Lincoln Center with Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Bill Irwin and F. Murray Abraham.
Douglas Wick‘s (Producer) first picture was the smash hit “Working Girl,” which he developed with playwright Kevin Wade. Wick then brought the screenplay to Mike Nichols who agreed to direct it. It was a successful collaboration–the film was nominated for five academy awards.
A very “hands-on” creative producer, Wick chooses his projects with great care. He spent two years working on the story for “Wolf” with novelist and screenwriter Jim Harrison. When Jack Nicholson committed to the script, Wick once again went to Mike Nichols.
Born in New York, Wick grew up in Los Angeles. He began making his own movies as a youngster; one of his first was a 16mm extravaganza starring Charles “Buddy” Rogers set in the Twenties and filmed on the Harold Lloyd estate.Wick attended Yale, where he studied film, literature and American Studies. Afterward he began working for Alan J. Pakula. He assisted Pakula on the filming of “Comes a Horseman,” starring Jane Fonda and James Caan, and became associate producer of Pakula’s next film, “Starting Over,” which was written by James L. Brooks and starred Burt Reynolds, Candice Bergen and Jill Clayburgh.
Wick was working on “Sophie’s Choice” when he left to start a production company at United Artists. His production company, Red Wagon, is now headquartered at Columbia. Red Wagon will follow up “Wolf” with “Captive,” an epic romance by Jim Harrison, and “The Craft,” a supernatural thriller by Peter Filardi (“Flatliners”).
Neil Machlis (Executive Producer) was born in New York City and received his degree in Marketing at American University in Washington D.C. His first job in communications was as a news cameraman at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. He entered the motion picture industry later that year as a production assistant and, over the following ten years, worked his way toward producing. He became an associate producer with “Grease,” and was also associate
producer on several other films including “American Gigolo” and “Mommie Dearest.” He co-produced “Three Men and a Little Lady” and “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey” and was executive producer of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” “Honeymoon in Vegas” and Mike Nichols’ “Postcards from the Edge.”
Robert Greenhut (Executive Producer) is teaming with Mike Nichols for the fifth time, after having produced “Heartburn” and executive-produced “Working Girl,” “Postcards from the Edge” and “Regarding Henry.” New York-born and raised, he is one of the few film producers to have based his prestigious career almost entirely on New York production. Greenhut has produced the films of most of the leading New York based filmmakers, and in 1989 he received the Mayor’s Film Office Award for his contribution to New Year’s film industry.
Greenhut studied at the University of Miami with a major in music. He started in the industry as an assistant director and production manager, taking various credits on films such as “Where’s Poppa?” “The Owl and the Pussycat,” “Husbands,” “Paper Lion” and “Pretty Poison.”
He received Associate Producer credit on J. Lee Thompson’s “Huckleberry Finn” in 1974, and continued in that capacity on Bob Fosse’s “Lenny,” Sidney Lumet’s “Dog Day Afternoon,” and Martin Ritt’s “The Front” – the film that began Greenhut’s prolific relationship with Woody Allen. Greenhut has since acted as Producer or Executive Producer on all Allen’s films – from the Academy Award winning “Annie Hall” in 1977, to the recent “Manhattan Murder Mystery.”
Greenhut’s other producing credits include Milos Forman’s “Hair,” Steve Gordon’s “Arthur,” Martin Scorsese’s “King of Comedy,” the Bill Murray/Howard Franklin comedy “Quick Change,” “New York Stories” directed by Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, Penny Marshall’s “Big,” “League of their Own” and the soon to be released “Renaissance Man.”
Jim Harrison (Screenwriter) is one of America’s best-known contemporary novelists. His books include “Legends of the Fall,” “DaIva,” “Farmer,” “A Good Day to Die,” “Warlock,” “Sundog,” “The Woman Lit by Fireflies” and “Wolf” (no relation to the film). He has also published seven volumes of poetry and “Just Before Dark,” a collection of essays, poetry and journalism. His books have been translated into twelve languages, and he has been the recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships.
When asked what makes Harrison a great writer, his friend Jack Nicholson readily answers:
“Vision, point of view, imagination, skill, freedom, honesty, style. You hate to encourage a lot of good writers to get into this business; the money flow can be so tempting. But you never need to worry about Jim.”
Harrison was born in Grayling, Michigan in 1937. His father was a farmer and county agricultural agent. Harrison spent his boyhood on the farm. At sixteen he went to New York with the intention of becoming a Greenwich Village bohemian and spent several years traveling. In 1960 he graduated for Michigan State University with a degree in comparative literature, and that year he also married his high-school sweetheart Linda King. They still live in Michigan, where they have
raised two daughters.
Harrison’s association with Jack Nicholson goes back to the filming of “The Missouri Breaks” in 1974. Harrison was visiting the set as the guest of the film’s screenwriter Tom McGuane, and was introduced to Nicholson. The friendship that ensued led to Nicholson taking an option on Harrison’s next three unwritten novellas, eventually titled “Legends of the Fall.” Published in a single volume, they have been among Harrison’s most popular works. TriStar will soon release a film version of the property with Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt.
After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, Wesley Strick (Screenwriter) returned to his native New York City to become a rock critic for music magazines Circus, Creem and Rolling Stone during their heyday in the late 1970s.When Strick started writing screenplays, he sold his first project, the psychological thriller “Final Analysis,” to Warner Brothers in 1984, though it didn’t ultimately reach the screen until 1991.
Strick’s next project was the courtroom drama, “True Believer,” which starred James Woods as a disillusioned lawyer and Robert Downey, Jr. as his enthusiastic protege. He also wrote the pilot for “Eddie Dodd,” the ABC series based on the film, which starred Treat Williams.
In 1990, he wrote “Arachnophobia” for director Frank Marshall. Strick then garnered both acclaim and controversy for his reworking of the 1962 thriller, “Cape Fear,” for director Martin Scorsese. He also contributed to the 1992 hit, “Batman Returns.”
Giuseppe Rotunno (Director of Photography) is one of the most respected cinematographers of our time. In a career that includes more than fifty films, he has worked for such directors as Fellini, Huston, De Sica, Pasolini, Visconti, Wertmuller, Pakula and Fosse. “Wolf” is his third film for Mike Nichols; his first two were “Carnal Knowledge” and “Regarding Henry.”
Just a few of Rotunno’s films include “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen,” “And the Ship Sails On,” “Amarcord,” “Fellini Satyricon,” “Rocco and His Brothers,” “Popeye,” “All That Jazz,” “Love and Anarchy,” “The Bible,” “The Leopard,” and “On the Beach.” He has won numerous honors, including Italy’s prestigious Nastro d’Argento and, for “All That Jazz,” a British Academy Award.
Ann Roth (Costume Designer) is another longtime Nichols colleague. Their association began with the stage successes “The Odd Couple” and “Lunch Hour,” and she has designed the costumes for all of Nichols’ films since “Silkwood.” Roth began her theatrical career as a scenery painter for the Pittsburgh Opera Company. She soon moved to New York, and assisted such costume designers as Irene Sharaff and Miles White. Among her Broadway credits are “Arms and the Man,”
“The Misanthrope,” “Death and the Maiden,” and “Waiting fOr Godot.”
Her first motion picture was “The World of Henry Orient” in 1962. Among her many films are “Midnight Cowboy,” “Klute,” “The Day of the Locust” (for which she won a British Academy Award in 1975), “The Goodbye Girl,” “Coming Home,” “Hair,” “Dressed to Kill,” “The World According to Garp,” “Places in the Heart,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Pacific Heights” and “School Ties.”
Bo Welch (Production Designer) has been acclaimed as an innovative young production designer with a special eye for fantasy. He created the opulent parallel universes of Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice,” “.Edward Scissorhands” and “Batman Returns,” as well as Joel Schumacher’s “The Lost Boys” and Ivan Reitman’s “Ghostbusters II.
“Bo was extraordinarily inventive in joining the themes of our picture–in our case, cages,” says
Mike Nichols. “There were many different variations of cages that he was able to create for the picture. He’s also a great ally, who is always there to support you in the battle to make a good movie.
In Bo’s work, he is able to be faithful to and witty about the world as it is, but he has this great sweeping imagination that can also take the world beyond reality to something poetic.”
Born and raised in Yardley, Pennsylvania, Welch graduated from the University of Arizona’s College of Architecture before taking a studio staff job to break into film. He first made his mark in the industry as a set designer and an director, working on such films as “Swing Shift,” “Mommie Dearest” and “Chilly Scenes of Winter.” He received an Academy Award® nomination for Steven Spielberg’s “The Color Purple.”
“The Lost Boys” was the first film on which Welch received credit as production designer. His other films include John Patrick Shanley’s “Joe Versus the Volcano” and Lawrence Kasdan’s “The Accidental Tourist” and “Grand Canyon.”
Rick Baker (Special Makeup Effects) is one of the most renowned special makeup effects artists. An Academy Award® winner for “An American Werewolf in London” (1982) and “Harry and the Hendersons” (1987), he was also nominated for “Coming to America” (1988) and “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan” (1985). For the latter he received a British Academy Award®.
Baker was born in 1950 in Binghampton, N.Y. One of his most important early credits was CBS’s “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” in 1974, for which he received an Emmy. In 1976, he played Kong in the Dino Di Laurentiis remake of “King Kong.”
Among the films on which he bears credit as Special Makeup Effects Artist are “Gorillas in the Mist,” “Gremlins II,” “Starman,” “Videodrome,” “The Incredible Shrinking Woman” and “The Fury.”
Sam O’Steen (Editor) has worked on all but one of Mike Nichols’ films. He began his career in 1956 as an assistant to editor George Tomassini on Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Wrong Man.”
His first credit as an editor was Delmer Daves’s “Youngblood Hawke” in 1964. Among his many films are “Cool Hand Luke,” “The Sterile Cuckoo,” “Chinatown,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Frantic.” O’Steen made his directorial debut in 1972 with the television film “A Brand New Life,” starring Cloris Leachman, and he won Directors’ Guild honors in 1975 for “The Queen of the Stardust Ballroom” starring Maureen Stapleton. In 1976 he directed the feature film “Sparkle,” which starred
such newcomers as Irene Cara, Lonette McKee, Dorian Harewood and Philip Michael Thomas.
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