A family whose suburban home is haunted by evil forces must come together to rescue their youngest daughter after the apparitions take her captive.
Fox 2000 Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures present POLTERGEIST, from legendary filmmaker Sam Raimi (“Spider-Man,” Evil Dead,” “The Grudge”) and director Gil Kenan (“Monster House”). It contemporizes the 1982 classic about a family whose suburban home is haunted by evil forces. When terrifying apparitions escalate their attacks and hold the youngest daughter captive, the family must come together to rescue her before she disappears forever.
Kenan directs from a screenplay by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David Lindsay-Abaire. In addition to Raimi, the producers are Rob Tapert, p.g.a. (“Evil Dead”) and Roy Lee, p.g.a. (“The Departed”). The film is executive produced by J.R. Young (“The Grudge 3”), Audrey Chon (“Changeling”), John Powers Middleton (“The LEGO® Movie”), and Becki Cross Trujillo (“Snitch”).
POLTERGEIST stars Sam Rockwell (“Moon”), Rosemarie DeWitt (“Rachel Getting Married”), Jared Harris (“Mad Men”) and Jane Adams (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”).
Rockwell and DeWitt play suburban parents Eric and Amy Bowen, Harris portrays Carrigan Burke, a paranormal expert turned reality TV personality, and Adams plays a professor of paranormal psychology.
The cast also includes talented newcomers Saxon Sharbino, Kyle Catlett and Kennedi Clements, who play the Bowen children Kendra, Griffin and Madison, respectively.
The film’s creative production and design team includes director of photography Javier Aguirresarobe, ASC (“The Others”), production designer Kalina Ivanov (“Little Miss Sunshine”), editors Jeff Betancourt (“The Exorcism of Emily Rose”) and Bob Murawski, ACE (“Spider-Man”), costume designer Delphine White (“Scanners”) and composer Marc Streitenfeld (“Prometheus”).
POLTERGEIST updates an iconic brand, creating a classic haunted house tale that plays to our innermost fears. It presents a family like ours, in a house like ours – but one that finds itself caught in an otherworldly trap.
The film was shot in native 3D, which enhances its scares and thrilling, edge-of-your-seat suspense.
POLTERGEIST originated with a screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play “Rabbit Hole.” Lindsay-Abaire is known for creating highly engaging characters through sophisticated and layered story lines.
Director Gil Kenan remembers, “When I read David’s script I understood there was a way to bring the POLTERGEIST story to life in a new way, and through it create a modern and terrifying story of an American family under siege.”
Producer Sam Raimi notes that Kenan was the ideal choice to bring the story to life. “Gil has a lot of experience with building suspense and scares, like he did with [his hit animated feature] ‘Monster House.’ That film would present suspenseful scenes – and then it would surprise audiences with an unexpected joke. Sometimes Gil would build suspense, and there’d be a beat where nothing happened, and then he’d present a big scare.
“The art of suspense-building is about timing and delivery and playing upon audiences’ expectations,” Raimi continues. “Gil has become a master at that, and I think POLTERGEIST is really going to keep audiences on edge.”
Both POLTERGEIST and the 1982 original give audiences a rollercoaster ride of thrills and fright with a story about the abduction of a family’s youngest child by supernatural and increasingly hostile forces. The rest of the clan then wages a gruelling battle to get her back safely.
But the new film updates the story’s perspective, place and characters.
Unlike the original “Poltergeist,” which was set in a comfortable economic time during the 1980s, this film is situated in the rapidly fading, disenfranchised American ideal we know as suburbia. A rundown, cookie-cutter community of three-bedroom homes, unkempt yards and chain link fences in an Illinois neighborhood sets the scene for the unsuspecting protagonists, the Bowen family. It reminds audiences that life in suburbia can sometimes be a long way from comfort and safety.
“In the early ‘80s, there was no need to question a move to the suburbs, but contemporary suburban life serves as a perfect foil because its surface sheen and luster are gone,” says Kenan. “Our characters have tried to live the prototypical suburban life, but have missed the mark and are starting off on unstable footing. When you add the core drama of a supernatural haunting and child abduction to this environment, you're primed for the unexpected.”
The script leaves open to interpretation the concept that the horrors facing this family – being haunted by multiple spirits and the eventual abduction of their child – may not be due solely to their new house resting atop a cemetery. It introduces the idea that our own disconnected nature and crumbling family units leave us that much more vulnerable to the desires of the supernatural.
Kenan’s roots in a suburban enclave in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley created a personal connection to the new story, which is enhanced by his unique filmmaking style that focuses on people defined by their surroundings.
“The challenge,” says Kenan, “was to get the audience familiar with the house, as well as with our family.” He accomplishes this by bringing us on a journey that begins with the first showing of what will soon be the Bowens’ new home. Kenan takes us through the house room by room, inspecting every closet and faucet.
It is the children who first notice that something is off about the house, even before the Bowens take ownership. Griffin, the middle child, catches his younger sister Maddy having a conversation with an unseen…something…in what will soon be her bedroom closet. By the time the family moves into their new home, the stage is set for the discovery of otherworldly forces.
It makes sense that Maddy and Griffin are the first to experience these forces, says Raimi, because children are usually “more open to new situations and using their imaginations. So our child characters were more likely to perceive these supernatural entities that invade their home. Adults don’t tune into new ‘frequencies’ as easily as kids do.”
Maddy, the youngest and most susceptible child, loves the house thanks to her new “imaginary” friends in the closet. Griffin is a shy, introverted and easily frightened kid who likes the idea of moving until he learns his room is in the creepy, secluded attic – and begins thinking that a nearby tree is threatening him.
Teenaged Kendra is the eldest sibling and, like her parents, is initially oblivious to the terrors awaiting the family. Instead, she’s angry about the move, which takes her away from her school and friends.
Played by Saxon Sharbino, Kendra is, says Rosemarie DeWitt, “representative of teenagers everywhere. Kendra is disconnected from her parents, resentful about being moved away from her friends, and is lost within the family.”
“Kendra is a role I really enjoyed playing,” says Saxon. “She is self-absorbed, spending all of her time on the phone with her friends, and really doesn’t like anything going on with the family. She is the last of the kids to notice weird things going on, and pays no attention to Griffin's rumblings about weird forces in the house.”
Saxon's character is already going through the perceived “horrors” of being a teen. “It is the terrifying aspect of understanding who Kendra is and why are her parents dragging her from my school, kicking and screaming to this suburban wasteland,” says the young actress.
Kennedi Clements plays Maddy, the poltergeist’s main target. “Finding Kennedi resulted from an exhaustive search of children from around the world because, says Kenan, “she has soulfulness, brightness, and sense of humor that's easy to love. This is important because in the short time we spend with Maddy we need to fall in love with her, to experience the sense of loss and heartbreak that her family feels when she's taken.
“Kennedi plays an absolutely fearless Maddy,” Kenan continues. “She's the one who, when confronted with voices from the TV or the closet, answers back with wide eyes. Maddy doesn't doubt and she's not afraid, and that fearlessness makes her vulnerable.”
It is Maddy’s sense of wonder and magic that leads to her abduction when her favorite doll, Piggy-Corn, is dragged into the closet. Maddy goes into the room’s dark depths to rescue her doll and when she turns around she sees her bedroom fading quickly away down a dark alley. The poltergeist has trapped her in this dark world of “in-between.”
Griffin, played by Kyle Catlett, is the Bowens’ only son. “Like many children, Griffin has a vivid imagination,” says Rockwell. “He usually sees things that aren’t real, so when he claims that a willow tree is growling at him, his parents, of course, don’t believe him.”
“Griffin is the hardest character in the movie to play because he has anxiety issues, but ultimately he's the one who has to confront the poltergeist threat head-on,” adds DeWitt.
Kenan calls Kyle “an incredibly intelligent young man with a sense of depth and character beyond his years. He portrays Griffin in a believable way. When Griffin starts to complain about being attacked by a squirrel in the attic or the tree branches scratching at the window, his parents start to wonder if he actually has a problem, instead of giving any credence to his stories.”
Kyle brought a high level of energy to the role, while always remaining sweet and sincere. He approached the stunts with particular excitement and curiosity. “My favorite scene was when I get dragged through the house by the poltergeist,” he recalls. “The stunt guys built a vertical set and I was dragged through the hallway, up the stairs and out of the attic window by the possessed willow tree. I loved doing the stunts and learning how to place you head and where to hold your hands, to always stay safe.”
A turning point in the story comes when Eric and Amy return home to find Griffin swinging from a tree, and Kendra in a terrified state, having just been attacked by an oozing substance reaching out for her from underneath the garage floor. Upon rushing into the house, Eric and Amy discover Maddy is missing and after a frantic search, they conclude that she has been taken by a paranormal force.
This startling turn of events impacts all family members, especially Eric and Amy. Their terror and emotions are brought to life by two of today’s most respected actors, Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt.
“You kind of expect a father is going to act a certain way in this situation,” says executive producer J.R. Young, “but Sam Rockwell’s unexpected choices in playing the role feel especially honest. He's brilliant and plays this role with grit, emotion, and humor. We're lucky to have him as the head of this family.”
Rockwell brings to light the difficult circumstances this young family faces. “Eric is having a really hard time and feels emasculated by losing his job, and that he's no longer a good provider,” Rockwell explains. “He’s still clinging to a materialism, which is why he does things like buying the kids expensive toys he can't afford. His wife Amy is much more in tune with the disconnection in their family, and how that affects the children.”
Neither Amy nor Eric knows what do to when Maddy is taken. They can’t even call the police because how can they explain the circumstances of her disappearance? Amy turns to a strange parapsychology unit at her alma mater, Illinois State University, for help.
Enter Dr. Powell (Jane Adams), the head of the parapsychology department, who steps up to the challenge Amy presents. She arrives to the house with her two assistants, Boyd (Nicholas Braun) and Sophie (Susan Heyward), along with some high-tech spirit-hunting equipment.
The team, especially Boyd, is skeptical about the family’s claims, and they’ve accepted the job more to debunk the supernatural abduction than to save the Bowens. As the poltergeist goes on the defense, Boyd has a terrifying encounter with the closet into which Maddy has disappeared. This puts the fear of death into the spirit-hunting team. Dr. Powell must admit that this unusually aggressive haunting can only be resolved with the help of the gifted medium Carrigan Burke, played by Jared Harris.
Burke is the star of a reality TV show called “House Cleaners,” which has given him ghost-hunting celebrity status. His arrival at the Bowen house is met with skepticism by all but the pop culture-loving teen Kendra.
“Burke knows what to do in every situation,” says Harris. “He doesn't conduct a séance or cleansing, but he is the only other person aside from Maddy with the ability to contact the other world.” Burke ultimately leads the Bowens’ fight to get Maddy back, during which it is revealed he was once married to Dr. Powell. Their romantic history adds a layer of light to the darkness upon which they are all enmeshed.
The house itself embodies both light and darkness. Initially, it is the saving grace for this hard-luck family, but it quickly turns menacing.
In “casting” the house, the production searched a wide area until they located the perfect one in a suburb in Hamilton, Ontario, a demographically diverse area.
According to production designer Kalina Ivanov, not only did the house chosen by the filmmakers embrace the “blandness of modern architecture,” it also included a familiar suburban color scheme – “a symphony of beige,” as she calls it. Ivanov goes on to explain that the neighborhood had to have high-intensity power lines, which are integral to the film’s supernatural-themed plot. The story also required an empty lot next door to accommodate the ominous willow tree that terrorizes Griffin.
For research, Ivanov turned not to magazines or coffee table books but to actual pictures of family homes. “We collected images of real people's lives to give the set authenticity,” she says. Sets like the living room and attic had to be built out bigger to accommodate the effects of the poltergeist force, such as the launching of a van through the living room bay window.
The attic had to be sinister and creepy but look real enough to be a young boy's bedroom. The attic’s skylight is the avenue through which the haunted willow tree torments Griffin. Ivanov designed the attic so that it could be ripped apart, which allowed the walls to “fly” in and out, depending upon Kenan’s desired camera angles.
In the film, the family home is built on a cemetery that was supposed to have been moved before the house was built. But while the tombstones were relocated, the actual bodies were left underneath. This caused a group of wandering souls to be stuck in the “in-between” and fiercely determined to get through to their eternal destination. The spirits need Maddy and her innocent source of light to guide them to the afterlife, where they will be set free.
“The communication from the poltergeist starts in small, playful, and physical gestures, including voices heard through the wall, and the scraping of branches against a window,” says Kenan. “Once the spirits make contact with Maddy, they are able to lure her in, away from her family, and trap her in their world.”
With Maddy in their possession, the spirits are able to develop a heightened aggressiveness and a series of tactics designed to keep her there. “I was always conscious of the idea of a group of spirits who were so forgotten, abandoned and frustrated that they were able to channel that specific energy into this act of taking a child from its family,” Kenan notes. “I found myself becoming sympathetic to the trapped souls and I challenged myself to try to understand their collective instinct, feelings and emotions.”
POLTERGEIST was filmed in 3D, which heightens the terror and thrills. “The original ‘Poltergeist’ captured a rousing, magical, very stylized, almost theatrical take on the supernatural, but it's not the way I’m telling this story,” says Kenan. “It was important for me to connect the material with a darker tool set that does away with the theatricality and finds something that is baser, darker and scarier.”
To that end, Kenan keeps the camera moving, capturing maximum jolts.
Javier Aguirresarobe, ASC, a world-renowned cinematographer who has worked on “The Twilight Saga” and “The Others,” is familiar with the concept of capturing supernatural phenomena in a fantastic yet realistic way. “The look in this film is fantasy but set in a natural environment, which makes it that much scarier,” he says. “The only frame of reference to the original film is a scene where Maddy connects to the other-world through the TV. This was my favorite scene to shoot because technically it was very challenging. We wanted to avoid visual effects as much as possible and shoot practically.”
Costume designer Delphine White also embraced a natural look. “I was drawn to both the light and dark side of the film,” says White. “We wanted to convey a family that was struggling, and used pictures of ordinary people for inspiration. The most challenging costumes to design were that of the poltergeist. We did a lot of research into people who'd been buried and exhumed and what happened to their clothing during that process. We worked with silhouettes and an incredible textile artist to get the right tone.”
Kenan and the visual effects team provide the necessary digital magic to make the supernatural come to life. Alison O'Brien is the film’s visual effects producer. “When I'm breaking down the script for VFX planning, I look at anything that can't be captured by the camera,” she explains. “This included our portal through to the other-side, which goes through Maddy's closet and comes out in the living room ceiling. Aesthetically, we wanted it to look sophisticated, because it's a very important story point and it needed to feel convincing.”
To help nail the specific look, O'Brien enlisted the help of BUF VFX, a small but well-known boutique VFX studio from Paris, which devised a new shooting technique using horizontal and vertical orientations. “It allowed us to get a little bit of movement without actually moving the camera, which gives us more control,” notes O’Brien.
What is possible now from a VFX point of view is much more sophisticated than it was 30 years ago, when the original was shot. In the 1982 film, the daughter was contacted solely through the TV, but now the poltergeists communicate through many of today’s signature personal devices, like smartphones and tablets.
Perhaps the film’s most interesting use of technology is the deployment of a toy drone that Eric purchases for Griffin early in the story. According to Kenan, the drone was part tool and part hero. “We used a small quadrocopter with two cameras on it, piloted though a smartphone or tablet,” says Kenan. “Not only did we incorporate the drone into the storyline, we used it behind-the-scenes to get shots no one has ever before captured. That freedom to put the camera anywhere you want is very exciting.”
The POLTERGEIST filmmakers experienced various unexplained occurrences during the making of the movie.
Sam Raimi explains: “The big open field directly behind the house caused us some grief. Gil was drawn to this field because it was the only area untouched in the neighborhood, so it really stuck out. However, that open space seemed to interfere with our on-set radio microphones, personal cell phone transmissions, and the signals between the drone cameras and their operators. The drone would work perfectly everywhere else but would crash whenever it attempted to fly over this area. It was a disconcerting feeling at best.”
Then there were the on-set “poltergeists” that plagued the production. To deal with the unwanted visitors, the filmmakers called in Brenda Rose, a Cleveland-based seer who connects with the paranormal. Rose uses a number of techniques to detect and cleanse a place from unwanted spirits. “I help people navigate their lives in the most efficient way by insightful readings and that can look like a lot of things from numerology cards to personal energy,” she says. “How spirits make themselves known changes from spirit to spirit; sometimes there's just something from the corner of your eye and other times it’s something actually trying to get your attention. When I'm in a session and open for spiritual business they can come from the left or right side. It ranges from organized chaos to just plain chaos, much like the family experiences in the movie.”
Tying directly to POLTERGEIST, Rose notes that, “usually when spirits get lost, they need a bit of guidance to find their way back to their destination.”
But POLTERGEIST’s other-world denizens are not your typical ghosts. As Jared Harris’ character Carrigan Burke notes, “This isn’t just a few pissed off spirits we’re dealing with…”
SAM ROCKWELL (Eric Bowen) has emerged as one of the most dynamic actors of his generation by continuing to take on challenging roles in both independent and studio productions.
Rockwell has two additional films slated for release in 2015: “Don Verdean,” written and directed by Jared Hess (“Napoleon Dynamite”), about a biblical archeologist who walks the line between faith-promoting spectacle and massive fraud; and “Digging for Fire,” written and directed by Joe Swanberg (“Drinking Buddies”), about the pleasures and pains of building a family, and maintaining the excitement of a relationship over time.
Rockwell was recently seen in Lynn Shelton’s “Laggies,” opposite Keira Knightley and Chloë Grace Moretz. This romantic coming-of-age comedy follows Megan (Knightley), who reacts to her boyfriend’s marriage proposal by hiding out with a new 16-year old friend Annika (Moretz) and Annika’s dad (Rockwell). He was also featured in “The Way, Way Back,” written by the Academy Award® winning team of Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (“The Descendants”), opposite Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Maya Rudolph, and Rob Corddry. The film premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and Rockwell was nominated for a 2014 Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actor in a Comedy for his performance.
Throughout his career, Rockwell has created memorable and diverse characters. His film credits include Tony Goldwyn's “Conviction,” opposite Hilary Swank; Jon Favreau’s “Iron Man 2,” opposite Robert Downey Jr. and “Cowboys and Aliens,” opposite Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig; Duncan Jones' “Moon”; the blockbuster “Charlie’s Angels,” with Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu; and Frank Darabont's Oscar®-nominated “The Green Mile,” opposite Tom Hanks.
Additional credits include DreamWorks' box-office hit “Galaxy Quest,” opposite Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, and Tony Shalhoub; Andrew Dominik's “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” opposite Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck; Martin McDonagh’s “Seven Psychopaths,” opposite Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, and Woody Harrelson; David Gordon Green's “Snow Angels,” opposite Kate Beckinsale; the Russo brothers' comedy “Welcome to Collinwood,” opposite George Clooney and William H. Macy; David Mamet's “Heist,” opposite Gene Hackman and Danny DeVito; “The Sitter,” opposite Jonah Hill; “Everybody’s Fine,” opposite Robert De Niro; “Frost/Nixon,” opposite Frank Langella; “Joshua,” opposite Vera Farmiga; “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” opposite Zooey Deschanel; and the Warner Bros. comedy-drama “Matchstick Men,” directed by Ridley Scott, also starring Nicolas Cage.
Rockwell has also appeared in Woody Allen's “Celebrity”; Michael Hoffman's “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” with Kevin Kline and Michelle Pfeiffer; John Duigan's “Lawn Dogs”; John Hamburg's “Safe Men”; Saul Rubinek's dark comedy “Jerry and Tom”; Tom DiCillo's “Box of Moonlight,” opposite John Turturro; Peter Cohn's “Drunk,” with Richard Lewis, Parker Posey, and Faye Dunaway; Paul Schrader's “Light Sleeper,” with Willem Dafoe; Uli Edel's “Last Exit to Brooklyn,” with Jennifer Jason Leigh; and his feature film debut in Francis Ford Coppola's “Clownhouse,” filmed while Rockwell was still a student at San Francisco's High School of the Performing Arts.
Rockwell won critical praise, as well as the Berlin Film Festival's Silver Berlin Bear Award and Movieline's Breakthrough Performance of the Year Award, for his portrayal of Chuck Barris in George Clooney's “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.” Rockwell starred opposite Clooney, Drew Barrymore, and Julia Roberts in this adaptation of Barris' memoirs. Other awards include Best Actor at the Sitges International Film Festival of Catalonia for his performance in “Joshua” and the Decades Achievement Award from Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival.
Last summer, Rockwell starred with Nina Arianda in Sam Shepherd’s “Fool for Love” at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Other stage credits include Martin McDonagh's critically acclaimed production of “A Behanding in Spokane,” opposite Christopher Walken, on Broadway; “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” at The Public Theater, directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman; and the off-Broadway production of “Goose-Pimples,” written by noted film writer/director Mike Leigh. He has also appeared in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “The Dumb Waiter,” and “Hot L Baltimore” for the Williamstown Theatre Festival.
After a series of acclaimed turns in film, television and theatre, ROSEMARIE DEWITT’s (Amy Bowen) grace, style and charm are at the heart of several highly-anticipated projects in which she collaborates with some of the industry’s most honored talent.
DeWitt will next be seen in Joe Swanberg’s “Digging for Fire,” which debuted at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. She stars opposite Sam Rockwell, Orlando Bloom, Jake Johnson, and Anna Kendrick.
DeWitt was last seen in Jason Reitman’s ensemble feature “Men, Women and Children” for Paramount Pictures, starring alongside Adam Sandler and Jennifer Garner. The film takes a look at the modern-day frustrations that young teenagers and adults face in today's world laden with social media and technology. She also recently appeared in Focus Features’ “Kill the Messenger,” opposite Jeremy Renner. Michael Cuesta directed this feature based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb, who became the target of a vicious smear campaign that drives him to suicide after he exposes the CIA’s role in arming Contra rebels in Nicaragua and importing cocaine into California.
She also starred in the HBO drama miniseries “Olive Kitteridge,” based on Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name. “Olive Kitteridge” also stars Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, and Richard Jenkins.
In 2013, DeWitt starred in “Touchy Feely,” directed by Lynn Shelton, portraying a massage therapist who develops an aversion to bodily contact. The film premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Prior to that, DeWitt was seen in the Gus Van Sant’s drama “Promised Land,” opposite Matt Damon and John Krasinski. In 2011, DeWitt starred opposite Emily Blunt and Mark Duplass in Lynn Shelton’s “Your Sister’s Sister.” The role earned DeWitt a 2013 Indie Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Female and the 2012 Gotham Award for Best Ensemble.
DeWitt starred as the titular character in “Rachel Getting Married,” for which she received Best Supporting Actress awards from the Toronto, Vancouver, and Washington D.C. Film Critics Associations. The film also earned her nominations for Best Supporting Actress at the Independent Spirit Awards and for Breakthrough Actor at the Gotham Awards. Directed by Jonathan Demme and written by Jenny Lumet, the drama also stars Anne Hathaway, Debra Winger, and Bill Irwin.
Additional film credits include “Nobody Walks,” opposite John Krasinski and Olivia Thirlby; “The Company Men,” alongside Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, and Tommy Lee Jones; and “Cinderella Man,” with Russell Crowe and Paul Giamatti.
DeWitt was seen on the small screen in the third season of the Showtime comedy series “The United States of Tara,” alongside Toni Collette. DeWitt played Tara’s sister who, along with Tara’s husband (played by John Corbett), must cope with the varied identities of Tara that range in age, temperament and even gender. In addition, DeWitt recurred on the critically acclaimed AMC series “Mad Men,” playing Don Draper’s (Jon Hamm) bohemian mistress in the show’s first season.
DeWitt has maintained a strong connection to theatre, having starred as Masha in Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” (Williamstown), as well as in the revival of John Patrick Shanley’s “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea” (Second Stage). She also starred in the Off-Broadway play “Family Week” (MCC Theater), written by Beth Henley and directed by Jonathan Demme, and originated the role of Fanny in Craig Lucas’ “Small Tragedy” (Playwright’s Horizons), for which the cast won an Obie Award.
DeWitt is a graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in Creative Studies, and she also studied at the Actors Center in New York.
A classically trained stage actor and former member of London's famed Royal Shakespeare Company, JARED HARRIS’ (Carrigan Burke) prolific career continuously showcases his ability to easily transition from one character to another, garnering him great praise and keeping him in the company of some of today's most creative talent in film, television, and stage projects.
Harris recently completed principal photography on “The Last Face.” The film, which also stars Charlize Theron, Jean Reno, and Javier Bardem, was directed and produced by Sean Penn. Harris plays a doctor working in war-torn Africa for Doctors Without Borders.
Harris can next be seen in Guy Ritchie’s “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” which stars Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, and Luca Calvani. Warner Bros.’ big-screen update of the 1960s TV series will be released August 14, 2015.
Recently, Harris voiced a character in Focus Features’ Academy Award® nominated film “The Boxtrolls.” The 3D stop-motion and CG hybrid animated feature is a comedic fable set in Cheesebridge, a posh Victorian-era town obsessed with cheese by day, and plagued by the mysterious Boxtrolls by night.
Harris starred in John Pogue's horror film “The Quiet Ones,” Paul W.S. Anderson's action drama “Pompeii,” and the young adult fantasy adaptation “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” the latter opposite Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Lena Headey.
On television, Harris starred as 1960s ad executive Lane Pryce in AMC's award-winning drama “Mad Men,” for which he earned his first Primetime Emmy® nomination in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. The show itself garnered three consecutive Golden Globes® for Best Drama Series, the first and only series to ever do so, and four consecutive Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama Series. “Mad Men” was nominated once again for a 2012, 2013, and 2014 Primetime Emmy in the same category.
Harris' credits also include Steven Spielberg's Academy Award® nominated biopic “Lincoln,” opposite Daniel Day Lewis, as the iconic Civil War hero General Ulysses S. Grant; a role as the villainous Professor Moriarty in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” opposite Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, and Noomi Rapace; an appearance alongside Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in David Fincher's Academy Award® nominated 2008 film “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”; and a riveting portrayal of Andy Warhol in the acclaimed “I Shot Andy Warhol.”
Harris made his film debut in 1989's “The Rachel Papers,” which was the directorial debut of his brother Damian, and Jared has since gone on to appear in over fifty films in a wide array of roles, including the sleazy Russian cab driver Vladimir in Todd Solondz's “Happiness,” for which the cast received the 1999 National Board of Review Acting Ensemble Award. Additional credits include Michael Mann's “The Last of the Mohicans”; “Sylvia”; Jim Jarmusch's “Dead Man”; Jonathan Nossiter’s “Sunday,” which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival; “Igby Goes Down”; “Mr. Deeds”; Michael Radford’s “B. Monkey”; Wayne Wang’s “Smoke”; and John Carpenter's “The Ward”; among others.
Harris has accumulated an impressive list of television credits in both England and the U.S., including highly acclaimed performances as Henry VIII for the BBC production of “The Other Boleyn Girl”; as John Lennon in the 2000 television drama and original VH1 film “Two of Us”; and the starring role in BBC's dramatization of Simon Mann's failed attempt to overthrow the oil-rich African nation Equatorial Guinea in “Coup!” Additional BBC credits include the mini-series “To the Ends of the Earth” and “The Shadow in the North.”
Stateside, Harris has been seen in recurring roles in “The Riches” and in the cult hit “Fringe,” and has guest-starred on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Without a Trace.”
Harris has appeared with some of the most renowned theater companies in both London and New York. His first theatre job at the Royal Shakespeare Company was in Mark Rylance’s “Hamlet,” which is considered to be the defining interpretation of his generation. Harris made his American stage debut as Hotspur in the New York Shakespeare Festival's “Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2.” He then went on to perform with the company in both “Tis Pity She's A Whore” and “King Lear.” Additional stage credits include the New Group's Obie Award-winning production of Mike Leigh's “Ecstasy”; the New Jersey Shakespeare Company's experimental production of “Hamlet,” in which he played the title role; the Almeida Theatre's production of Tennessee William's bittersweet comedy “A Period of Adjustment”; and the Vineyard Theater's production of “More Lies About Jerzy.”
Harris was born in London, and is the son of Irish actor Richard Harris. He attended North Carolina's Duke University, where he majored in drama and literature and after graduation he studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. Harris currently resides in Los Angeles.
JANE ADAMS has worked with impressive film directors as diverse as Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”), Todd Solondz (“Happiness”), Curtis Hanson (“Wonder Boys”), Todd Field (“Little Children”), Neil Jordan (“The Brave One”), and Gus Van Zant (“Restless”). Other film credits include “The Wackness,” “Orange County,” “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “The Anniversary Party,” and “Songcatcher.” Jane collaborated with director Joe Swanberg on four independent features: the critically acclaimed “All the Light in the Sky,” as lead actress and co-writer; “Silver Bullets”; “Alexander the Last”; and “Digging for Fire.”
On Broadway Jane's credits include Arthur Miller's “The Crucible” and Paul Rudnick’s “I Hate Hamlet” (Theater World Award, Drama Desk and Outer Critics nominations). For “An Inspector Calls,” directed by Stephen Daldry, she won both the Drama Desk and Tony Award® for her performance.
Jane was nominated for a Golden Globe for her co-starring role in HBO's critically acclaimed series “Hung.” Other television credits include major roles on “Frasier” and on Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz’s “Relativity.”
Jane is a graduate of Juilliard.
GIL KENAN (Director) wrote and directed a short film, “The Lark,” which caught the attention of Robert Zemeckis, and landed Kenan the director's chair for the 2006 film “Monster House,” which Zemeckis executive produced with Steven Spielberg. Kenan was nominated for a 2006 Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature for his work on the film. He next directed “City of Ember,” the screen adaption of Jeanne DuPrau’s novel, with Tom Hanks producing.
DAVID LINDSAY-ABAIRE (Screenwriter) is a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, screenwriter, lyricist and librettist. His play “Good People” premiered on Broadway and was awarded the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play, The Horton Foote Prize, The Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award, and two Tony nominations.
His previous play, “Rabbit Hole,” received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, five Tony nominations, and the Spirit of America Award. He also wrote the book and lyrics for “Shrek the Musical,” which was nominated for eight Tonys, four Oliviers, a Grammy, and earned David the Ed Kleban Award as America’s most promising musical theatre lyricist. David’s other plays include “Fuddy Meers, “Kimberly Akimbo,” “Wonder of the World” and “A Devil Inside,” among others. In addition to his work in theatre, David's screen credits include his film adaptation of “Rabbit Hole,” and DreamWorks Animation’s “Rise of the Guardians,” among others.
SAM RAIMI, p.g.a. (Producer) has directed one the industry’s most successful film franchises ever—the blockbuster “Spider-Man” trilogy, which has grossed $2.5 billion at the global box office. All three films reside in the industry’s top 25 highest grossing titles of all time.
In addition to the franchise’s commercial success, “Spider-Man” (2002) won that year’s People’s Choice Award as Favorite Motion Picture, earned a pair of Oscar nominations (for VFX and sound) and also collected two Grammy® nominations (for Best Score and Chad Kroeger’s song “Hero”). The sequel (2004) won the Academy Award® for Best Visual Effects (with two more nominations, Best Sound and Sound Editing) and received two BAFTA nominations (for VFX and sound), among dozens of other honors.
Most recently, Raimi is known for directing “Oz the Great and the Powerful,” a commanding prequel to one of Hollywood’s most beloved stories. Grossing nearly a $280 million in worldwide box office, “Oz” has also been elected for awards across the board, including a nomination at the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Family Movie, and winning Film Music at the BMI Film & TV Awards.
Apart from creating one of Hollywood’s landmark film series, Raimi’s eclectic resume includes the gothic thriller “The Gift,” starring Cate Blanchett, Hilary Swank, Keanu Reeves, Greg Kinnear, and Giovanni Ribisi; the acclaimed suspense thriller “A Simple Plan,” starring Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, and Bridget Fonda (for which Thornton earned an Academy Award® nomination for Best Supporting Actor and Scott B. Smith landed a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay); his baseball homage, “For Love of the Game,” with Kevin Costner and Kelly Preston; the western “The Quick and the Dead,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Sharon Stone, Russell Crowe, and Gene Hackman; and the supernatural thriller “Drag Me to Hell,” with Alison Lohman and Justin Long.
Raimi began his career in his native Michigan after directing his own Super 8 movies as a teenager. He left his studies at Michigan State University to form Renaissance Pictures with future producer Rob Tapert and their longtime friend, actor Bruce Campbell, with whom he made his first film, “Within the Woods,” a short horror film they used to raise money to make a feature. That resulting horror classic, “The Evil Dead” (1982), financed and produced with investments from local businesspeople and doctors, became a hit at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival and spawned a sequel, “Evil Dead II” (1987), which, like the original, showcased Raimi’s inventive, imaginative direction and offbeat humor.
Raimi next turned to the fantasy genre, writing and directing the comic book-inspired “Darkman” (1990), starring Liam Neeson and Frances McDormand, then continued the Evil Dead franchise with 1993’s “Army of Darkness,” which sees Bruce Campbell’s Ash Williams sent back in time to the Middle Ages.
The mid-’90s also found Raimi producing two telefilms (with friend and partner Tapert) that would become the genesis of a pair of highly popular syndicated series—“Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” (on which he served as executive producer during the program’s four-year run) and the successful companion series, “Xena: Warrior Princess,” which aired from 1995-2001. His television work also includes executive producing the CBS series “American Gothic” and Starz’ graphic sword and sandals series, “Spartacus: War of the Damned.”
Raimi continued his collaboration with Tapert in his production company Ghost House Pictures, which produced such films as “The Grudge,” “Boogeyman,” “30 Days of Night,” “The Messengers,” and “The Possession.”
Raimi’s work has been a favorite on the film festival circuit, with the filmmaker winning a Best Director honor for “Darkman” at the 1990 Sitges Film Festival in Spain; the Critics Award for “Army of Darkness” at the 1992 Fantasporto Festival in Portugal; the Golden Raven, also for “Army of Darkness,” at the 1992 Brussels International Festival; and a Grand Prize nomination for the same title at the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival in France. Raimi himself has also won the Saturn Award twice (“Spider-Man 2,” along with a George Pal Memorial Award) from the Academy of Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy.
Along with original filmmakers Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell, Raimi is currently in production on the television adaptation of his original “Evil Dead” series.
ROB TAPERT, p.g.a. (Producer) is the longstanding producing partner of acclaimed director Sam Raimi. Tapert and Raimi have been working together since they met at Michigan State University, where they formed the Society for Creative Film Making. After producing the horror cult classic “Evil Dead,” Tapert continued to collaborate with Raimi on “Evil Dead II,” “Darkman,” and “Army of Darkness.” He then served as executive producer on Raimi’s suspense thriller “The Gift,” starring Cate Blanchett, and on the action western “The Quick and the Dead,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Sharon Stone, and Gene Hackman. Tapert also executive produced the action features “Hard Target” and “Timecop,” both starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Tapert executive produced the long-running worldwide TV sensation “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” and “Xena: Warrior Princess,” and later, “Legend of the Seeker” and Starz' breakout hit “Spartacus.” “Spartacus” and “Legend of the Seeker” both played in over 150 markets worldwide.
In 2002, Tapert and Raimi formed Ghost House Pictures. Ghost House was conceived to produce feature films that would deliver great scares and offer horror fans a thrill ride experience. Tapert has since produced a string of #1 box office hits, beginning with “The Grudge,” which grossed $187 million worldwide, and continued with “Boogeyman,” “The Messengers,” “30 Days of Night,” “The Possession,” and the remake of “Evil Dead.” In 2009, Tapert produced Raimi's first directorial effort under Ghost House – the critically acclaimed “Drag Me to Hell.”
Tapert is currently producing the “Ash vs Evil Dead” TV series for Starz, the long-awaited follow-up project that reunites him with Raimi and “Evil Dead” franchise star Bruce Campbell.
ROY LEE (Producer) earned his first motion picture producing credit as Executive Producer on Gore Verbinski’s 2002 blockbuster “The Ring.” He went on to produce the 2004 haunted house horror “The Grudge,” which broke the record for the biggest opening weekend of all time for a horror film. October 2006 saw the release of “The Departed,” a crime thriller at Warner Bros., directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, and Leonardo DiCaprio, which went on to win four Academy Awards®, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.
A Korean-American born in Brooklyn, Lee founded Vertigo Entertainment in 2001, where he produced such films as “The Lake House,” “The Strangers,” “Quarantine,” and the animated hits “How to Train Your Dragon” and “The LEGO® Movie.”
Currently, Lee maintains a first-look deal with Warner Bros. and continues to produce box-office and critical successes, both in theatres and on television with the acclaimed series “Bates Motel.” Lee is currently working on several projects, including a sequel to “The LEGO Movie,” “It” (an adaptation of the Stephen King novel) and the “Minecraft” movie.