The Rewrite (2015) Production Notes


Release Date: 2015-05-29
Runtime: 106 mins. / 1 h 46 m

An Oscar-winning writer in a slump leaves Hollywood to teach screenwriting at a college on the East Coast, where he falls for a single mom taking classes there.


Synopsis

Once upon a time, screenwriter Keith Michaels (Hugh Grant) was on top of the world – a Golden Globe Award and a hit movie to his name, a beautiful wife and son, and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of sexy British wit and charm. But that was fifteen years ago: now, he’s divorced, approaching fifty, hasn’t written a hit film in years, and is going broke.

Luckily, his agent has a gig for him – albeit far away from Hollywood. A university in upstate New York is looking for a writer-in-residence to teach a course on screenwriting, and with an empty wallet as his motivation, Keith can’t say no. In bucolic Binghamton, he quickly discovers that his celebrity status hasn’t faded – it’s almost too easy for him to bed a starstruck young co-ed, Karen (Bella Heathcote), who is enrolled in his class, and his other students seem naïve and simple. Hoping to give minimal attention to his duties and focus on writing a new script, Keith inadvertently gets off on the wrong foot with a ranking faculty member (Allison Janney), a humorless Jane Austen scholar; though he does quickly befriend two eccentric faculty colleagues who promise to show him the ropes (Chris Elliott, J.K. Simmons).

Keith’s attitude begins to turn when he meets Holly (Marisa Tomei), a single mom working two jobs to earn her bachelor’s degree. Though Holly has a new boyfriend – and Keith isn’t very savvy about covering up his romance with Karen – the two find themselves connected by their mutual need for a second chance. When one of his pupils comes up with a screenplay that Keith knows will sell, he sees an opportunity to get out of teaching and go back to living the good life. But he’s also discovered that teaching has given him that second chance at becoming a better man – and finds himself equally tempted to stay and see where his new talents take him.

About the Production

Don’t tell Hollywood screenwriter Keith Michaels (Hugh Grant) that there are no second acts in American life – he’s already experienced the highs and the lows of fame and success, from writing an Oscar-winning screenplay fifteen years ago to practically begging for work today. If there’s no second act that would find Keith reclaiming fortune and status in Hollywood, then what could possibly be left for him?

“THE REWRITE is the story of the third act of Keith Michaels’ life,” explains Hugh Grant. “At the beginning of the film, he’s the guy who thinks that it all depends on how well he is doing as a screenwriter on the Hollywood board of snakes and ladders.” Keith’s unlikely third act happens thousands of miles away – on the campus of an upstate New York college where he agrees to teach screenwriting for a year in order to stave off bankruptcy.

“I wanted to write something about a professor,” says filmmaker Marc Lawrence. “I like the academic world – in a way, I’ve never left college. I dress the same way I did then. One of the first jobs I got out of college was working on the television show ‘Family Ties,’ which was like being in college.” Following the edict of writing what he knows best, Lawrence began to consider the possibilities of a screenwriter fitting into the world of academics. “Keith is a character who is being downsized against his will, getting older in a business that worships and values youth, and it’s becoming hard for him to find his place in the world. I see that happening to friends around me – the world seems to be changing around them – and I see that universal question: what is the next chapter of my life if the one I have been living no longer seems available to me?”

In a journey that offers Keith new possibilities and second (and third) chances, he quickly discovers that there are a lot of differences between Hollywood and Binghamton, New York. “I very specifically chose Binghamton as the location,” explains Marc Lawrence, “because it’s where I went to school and where I met my wife. The weather is horrible – the one sunny day you get is like a Ray Bradbury story, where everyone rushes out from class because they may not see the sun again for months. But if you stop and look more closely, there is lot of beauty. For Keith, slowly the color of the place starts coming out, and that was my experience. I loved my time there, so I wanted the movie to be set there.”

There are also ways, Lawrence point out, that the world of academia and the world of the movie studios are very similar. “The university is not unlike Hollywood – slightly small and incestuous and hard to see out of, and you don’t know or you can’t see your own craziness. People are getting older but the students are staying the same age, so there’s something kind of Dorian Gray-ish about it. I think that makes some professors a little nuts while being brilliant and smart and literary and articulate at the same time.”

This is the fourth collaboration between actor Hugh Grant and director Lawrence, and they are both thrilled to working together again. “I just can’t imagine anyone doing this part better,” says Marc Lawrence. “I tend to write a lot of words, and he’s good with words. I know he studied literature in school, so the idea of him playing a writer makes complete sense to me, it’s completely credible that he would be this guy.” “I did no preparation for the role whatsoever,” jokes Hugh Grant. “But I did spend time working with Marc on the script, reading drafts, making annoying suggestions. I love his stuff, it always makes me laugh, has a lovely charm and innocence to it, and he writes incredibly good dialogue for me. This story also has layers of despair and sadness that provide some bass notes to the comedy.”

The easy and familiar working relationship of star and director meant that the entire cast and crew developed an environment that was both productive and playful. “My cousin from Washington DC came up and visited me on the set,” says actor J.K. Simmons, who plays Dr. Harold Lerner, the English department chair who initially invites Keith to Binghamton and becomes a trusted friend. “There’s always a different dynamic when you are on the set with a visitor who isn’t in the business – guests are not always greeted enthusiastically. But the day he visited, we were doing scenes with Hugh and Chris Elliot and everyone was just remarkably open and friendly. It was a good way to learn that I was working with very good people.”

“It’s a very easy set to be on,” says actress Allison Janney, who portrays Keith’s antagonistic colleague Mary Weldon, a Jane Austen scholar who has little patience for “show business” types. “It’s my first time working with Marc, but he’s one of the kindest most talented writer-directors in Hollywood. He’s got a great attitude, very grateful, loves actors – and actors love to work for people who love actors!”

“Like the entire western world, I’m a gigantic fan of Allison’s,” enthuses Marc Lawrence of Janney. “She’s just brilliant. It would be easy for that character to be a caricature, but because Allison as an actress is so immediately credible and her instincts are so great, I knew that she’d be able to bring a natural dimension and human side to the character.” “One of the reasons you feel confident about a script is because amazing actors said yes immediately to coming on board,” adds Hugh Grant of Janney and the rest of the principal cast. “That is really encouraging, and they have been astonishingly good in the film.”

Janney notes the unintentional irony of her character being a Jane Austen scholar – and yet being so bristly towards a character played by Hugh Grant, who rendered an iconic performance as Edward in Ang Lee and Emma Thompson’s award-winning adaptation of Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. “Of course, eventually, Keith opens up Mary’s world a bit,” Janney says. “She’s a bit of a romantic, and she’s cast him in the Jane Austen novel that is her life. At the beginning, Mary isn’t very likeable – she doesn’t know how to loosen up. She definitely warms to him and is charmed by him over time.”

Though the connection between Keith and Professor Weldon is not romantic, Keith has no problem charming other women he comes in contact with, though he soon discovers that he can’t always control the women he dates the way he can characters on the page. His first conquest is a student, Karen Gabney (Bella Heathcote), a spoiled co-ed who is not afraid to place Keith in her targets the second he steps foot on campus. “Karen is kind of an anti-daddy’s girl,” says Heathcote, a native of Melbourne, Australia. “Her dad was never there for her, so she’s got a lot of issues as a result. She’s quite manipulative and I think sees Keith as her ticket to Hollywood.” Thus far in her young career, Heathcote has played a very different sort of character: “I never get cast in anything that’s even vaguely sexual,” she says playfully. “I usually get the innocent girl-next-door roles, and it’s also new for me playing in a comedy. It’s terrifying but really exciting.”

Hugh Grant is thrilled at the energy Heathcote has brought to the role. “She came to the screen test and was instantly the only one we could possibly cast,” remembers Grant. “She had this fantastic air of privilege and spoiled sexuality about her, it was a no-brainer.” Marc Lawrence observes about Heathcote and the other young actors in the film. “It’s remarkable how good the actors who play the college students are. They walked on the set and were doing scenes with Hugh and Marisa and Allison, and either they weren’t terrified or they were covering it very well. At that age, Hugh and I would have been shaking to meet anyone near this position. I’m actually insulted at how calm they seem to be – they have been as professional, if not more so, than the rest of us!” Bella Heathcote demurs: “I was intimidated by Hugh Grant for weeks!” she exclaims. “Because he’s extraordinarily talented and intelligent. But thankfully both he and Marc have a great sense of humor. I got the coolest note ever from a director from Marc. We had initially had a meeting in a local diner, and on the first day of shooting he sent me a private note that said ‘You owe me five dollars for lunch!’”

The easy-going nature of Grant and Lawrence is also appreciated by veteran actor J.K. Simmons, who takes on the role of Lerner, a former Marine-turned-Chaucer scholar. “In addition to being an ex-Marine, he’s also a dad with four daughters at home – almost Tevye from ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ but not quite.” Simmons has enjoyed his first experience working with Marc Lawrence – as it also serves as a reminder of one of his first jobs, nearly twenty years ago. “One of my first films after schlepping around the country doing theatre for twenty years was a film called ‘Extreme Measures,’ which starred Hugh – when we were both pups. I was pleasantly surprised that Hugh remembered me. He and Marc bring a nice, relaxed atmosphere to the set. This isn’t brain surgery or putting a man on the moon, we’re just having fun, and I think that atmosphere always comes from the top down. This film has really been a joy.” “J.K. is one of the few actors who can do comedy and drama absolutely convincingly,” enthuses Lawrence. “This character is based on an actual professor I knew, and J.K. embodies the character’s warmth along with the slight impatience that a military guy would have in the academic world.”

Rounding out the faculty is Jim Harper, played by actor-comedian Chris Elliot. “The part is pretty close to me,” admits Elliot. “Jim’s a guy who is not necessarily comfortable around people even though he’s a teacher – and I’m not comfortable around people even though I’m an actor. When I read the script, Jim sounded a lot like me – and I’ve made him look a lot like me – so I had an immediate attraction to the guy.”

“Marc Lawrence is such a pleasure to work with,” continues Elliot. “We did a pilot a long, long time ago, so this is like a friend giving you directions on how to get to a party. Everything is fun and easy going. And Hugh would probably hate me saying this, but I feel like I’m working with my generation’s Cary Grant. I’ve always been a fan. Working with Hugh is like working with butter, and if you know my career, you know I’ve worked a lot with butter.” Marc Lawrence admits to being a mutual fan of Elliot: “Chris is a great friend and one of the funniest people on the planet. He’s also very relatable and very warm – watch him in ‘Groundhog Day.’” Bella Heathcote agrees: “I’ve spent a lot of time with Chris trying not to laugh,” she says. “Every time I look at him I start laughing. I had to be angry at him one day and I asked Allison for advice: she said ‘just pretend like you are yelling at yourself for being an idiot!’ A lot of the cast is like that – the kind of people you want to hang around.”

Although the film revolves around the specific fate of Keith Michaels as he ventures far afield in order to gain new perspective on his career, it also hints at some more complicated questions about the nature of creativity – and whether or not the art of screenwriting can be “taught” or if it is merely a natural gift. “I like when films can maintain a philosophical argument with each side being equally supported,” says Marc Lawrence. “I think Hugh’s character represents one side of the argument – that talent is innate and cannot be taught. Holly, played by Marisa Tomei, represents the other side, that says if you work hard enough, then there’s nothing you can’t learn or master.”

The cast also agrees that solving the question of nature vs. nurture when it comes to writing is a difficult task. “I can’t even write a journal,” admits Allison Janney. “I find that I love writers who have an ear for dialogue, I don’t know how they do it. I think knowing what the actor has to go through might help a screenwriter get better – putting yourself in an actor’s shoes. I think I would do that if I was a writer, I’d act out all the parts myself.”

J.K. Simmons weighs in: “I am not a writer, I’m a rewriter, an improviser – I like to screw around with other people’s writing. But ground-up, I don’t have that ability, which is why I so much admire people who can create a story out of thin air and invent characters.” “I’ve never written a screenplay, but I feel like I should,” adds Bella Heathcote. “I feel like you probably need to have some natural propensity for it, but I should probably try out a class and see what happens before I make a decision.”

Hugh Grant himself takes a different approach from his character. “Keith goes from a position that it’s all talent to understanding that a teacher can at least bring things out of people. But I’ve always tinkered with the scripts I get involved in. Marc will write a draft, I look at it with Martin Shafer and Liz Glotzer, two very bright producers, we give notes, and another draft comes. I think for this film, though, I gave my least input.”

The cast member with the most actual writing experience wants no part of the discussion. “I’ve gotten to page ten on my screenplays and then I get bored,” says Chris Elliot, whose writing credits include the cult hit “Cabin Boy,” the critically acclaimed TV series “Get a Life,” several published books and a number of seasons writing on David Letterman’s show. “If you read any of my scripts, you know I have no idea what makes a great script. I think the idea of teaching the mechanics of anything is possible, but Marc has a natural gift for screenplay writing that very few people have.”

“Woody Allen says that writers write the way institutionalized people weave baskets,” jokes Marc Lawrence. “For me, writing is a way of getting multiple personalities out. I believe it was Blake who said ‘when we argue with each other, we make noise, but when we argue with ourselves we make poetry.’ I’m a long way from Blake, but there’s something to that idea.”

The film has also allowed the cast to reconsider the roles that great teachers have played in their lives – for even if Keith stumbles a bit in his journey as a college professor, he begins to find his stride as he embraces the role of mentorship and starts to see the lives of people around him change as a result. “I had a wonderful theatre teacher, Tom Turgeon, at Kenyon College,” says Allison Janney of one of her beloved mentors, a longtime professor who passed away in early 2013. “Teachers who love what they are teaching are inherently inspirational – anyone who loves what they do is more fun to be around.”

“The teacher who inspired me most was my dad,” says J.K. Simmons. “He was a public school teacher, and then a college professor. Shortly after I started my career in theatre, I went back to visit my dad and I snuck in the back of his classroom, a music appreciation class for non-majors. Watching him, I realized that this is where my brother and I got our performance gene: dad was a guy who could disseminate information and be charismatic at the same time; he was an inspiration.”

“There were a number of professors at Binghamton that I loved, that I’m still in contact with, who were huge influences on my way of thinking,” says Marc Lawrence. “I don’t know if they’ll recognize themselves in the film or not, but they are very specific people.” Returning to the literal scene of his youth has proved to be a delight for Lawrence. “It’s bizarre to be on this campus with Hugh, this place that I knew before I even knew that screenwriting existed. It’s a strange time warp and mingling of different parts of my life.”

And Lawrence is also making sure that the film is a learning experience in and of itself. “My son is writing the music for the movie,” he says proudly. Clyde Lawrence is currently a sophomore at a prestigious East Coast university – but he’s also something of a film veteran himself, having contributed songs to Lawrence’s previous films “Miss Congeniality” and “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” and some of the soundtrack music for “Music and Lyrics.” “He’s busy at school right now, but he claims he will get the work done in time and I have every confidence in him,” he concludes with a smile.

“Everyone has ups and downs in show business,” says Hugh Grant. “This film satirizes that a bit, but I think that experience applies to any field, not just show business. Keith learns about this concept of ‘late bloomers,’ about people who realize their true vocation late in life. To a certain extent, I think you might say that’s what the film is really about.”

About the Cast

HUGH GRANT (Keith Michaels)
Hugh Grant is an award-winning actor who has received acclaim for his work in a wide range of film roles. Grant first gained international stardom in 1994 when he starred in Mike Newell’s comedy smash “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” for which he won a Golden Globe Award and a British Academy Award for his performance opposite Andie MacDowell. He has since earned two more Golden Globe nominations: one for his work in the 1999 romantic comedy hit “Notting Hill,” opposite Julia Roberts; and in 2002 for his work in the Weitz brothers’ acclaimed comedy drama “About a Boy.”

Hailing from England, Grant attended Oxford University and made his feature film debut in “Privileged.” His breakthrough role came in the 1987 Merchant-Ivory film “Maurice,” based on E.M. Forster’s novel. Grant won the Best Actor Award at the Venice Film Festival for his portrayal of a young man confronting his homosexuality in the Edwardian age. That led to leading roles in such films as “The Dawning,” with Anthony Hopkins; Ken Russell’s “The Lair of the White Worm”; Roman Polanski’s “Bitter Moon”; “Night Train to Venice”; and the award-winning Merchant-Ivory drama “The Remains of the Day,” with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.

Following the success of “Four Weddings” Grant went on to star in a number of popular films including “Nine Months” with Julianne Moore, Ang Lee’s “ Sense and Sensibility,” Woody Allen’s “Small Time Crooks,” “Love Actually,” and “Bridget Jones’ Diary.” He also made three films written and directed by Marc Lawrence: “Two Weeks Notice” with Sandra Bullock, “Music and Lyrics” with Drew Barrymore, and “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” with Sarah Jessica Parker.

Among his other film credits are the British comedy “An Awfully Big Adventure,” for director Mike Newell; the critically acclaimed “The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain,” written and directed by Christopher Monger; Michael Apted’s thriller “Extreme Measures,” with Gene Hackman (which Grant also produced); “Mickey Blue Eyes” with James Caan; “American Dreamz”; and Aardman’s animated “The Pirates! Band of Misfits”

In 2006, Grant received an Honorary César Award.

Grant has devoted much of the last few years to campaigning in the UK on the issue of press abuse, but last year appeared in several roles in the epic “Cloud Atlas.” He will next appear in Guy Ritchie’s “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”

MARISA TOMEI (Holly Carpenter)
Marisa Tomei continues to bridge the gap between rich, dramatic performances and smart, comedic turns. Tomei won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in “My Cousin Vinny,” and second and third Academy nominations for “In the Bedroom” and “The Wrestler,” respectively. Recent film credits include “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” “The Ides of March,” “The Lincoln Lawyer,” “Parental Guidance,” “Cyrus,” “Before the Devil Knows You're Dead” (Independent Spirit Award Nomination), “What Women Want,” “The Slums of Beverly Hills,” and “Unhook the Stars” (SAG Award Nomination). Her upcoming films include “Loitering with Intent” opposite Sam Rockwell; “La Vida Robot”; and “Love is Strange” opposite John Lithgow and Alfred Molina.

As a stage performer, Tomei starred on Broadway in Caryl Churchill's now-classic feminist drama, "Top Girls." Also on Broadway, she starred opposite Al Pacino in Oscar Wilde's "Salome" in the title role. Her favorite theater credits include “Marie and Bruce,” Will Eno's "Oh! The Humanity and Other Good Intentions," Nobel Prize-winning playwright Dario Fo's "We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!," “Design for Living,” Clifford Odets’ "Waiting for Lefty" and "Rocket to the Moon," both directed by Joanne Woodward, among many, many others. Tomei is a founding member of the Naked Angels Theater Company in New York City, and is currently staring on Broadway in Will Eno's "The Realistic Joneses" opposite Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts and Toni Collette.

ALLISON JANNEY (Professor Mary Weldon)
The incredibly versatile Allison Janney has taken her place among a select group of actors who combine a leading lady’s profile with a character actor’s art of performance. Currently starring alongside Anna Faris in the CBS/Chuck Lorre sitcom, “Mom,” Janney received rave reviews for her multi-episode arc on Showtime’s groundbreaking drama “Masters of Sex.” Her latest feature work includes Jason Bateman’s directorial debut “Bad Words,” “Trust Me” for director/actor Clark Gregg and the Dreamworks’ animated film “Mr. Peabody & Sherman.” Still due to be released is “Tammy” with Melissa McCarthy and“Days and Nights” from Christian Camargo. Janney previously appeared in “The Way, Way Back” with Steve Carell and Toni Collette, "The Oranges" with Catherine Keener, “Liberal Arts” with Josh Radnor and “Struck by Lightning” with Chris Colfer.

Additionally she co-starred in the feature film "The Help," based on the bestselling novel of the same name. For their extraordinary performances, the cast won Ensemble awards from the Screen Actors Guild, National Board of Review and the Broadcast Film Critics. The film was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.

Janney has also delighted audiences with outstanding performances in the Oscar-winning ensemble hit “Juno” and in the movie version of the Tony Award winning play “Hairspray.” For her role in Todd Solondz's film "Life During Wartime" she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress by the Spirit Awards. She also appeared in Sam Mendes’ “Away We Go,” the comedy “Strangers with Candy,” and was heard as the voice of ‘Gladys’ in Dreamworks’ animated film “Over the Hedge” as well as “Peach” in “Finding Nemo.”

Janney received another Spirit Award nomination for her work in the independent feature “Our Very Own,” and starred opposite Meryl Streep in “The Hours,” which received a SAG Award nomination for Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture. Other feature credits include the Academy Award winning film “American Beauty” (for which she won a SAG Award for Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture) as well as “Nurse Betty,” “How to Deal,” “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” “10 Things I Hate About You,” “Primary Colors,” “The Ice Storm,” “Six Days Seven Nights,” “The Object of My Affection,” and “Big Night.”

Throughout her career, Janney has made a handful of memorable guest-star appearances on television, but she is renowned for her starring role in the acclaimed NBC series "The West Wing," where she won a remarkable four Emmy Awards and four SAG Awards for her portrayal of White House Press Secretary CJ Cregg.

While a freshman studying acting at Kenyon College in Ohio, Janney auditioned for Paul Newman and got the part. Soon after, Newman and his wife Joanne Woodward suggested she study at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York. She followed their advice and went on to make her Broadway debut in Noel Coward’s “Present Laughter” for which she earned the Outer Critics Circle Award and Clarence Derwent Award. She also appeared in Arthur Miller’s "A View from the Bridge," receiving her first Tony Award nomination and winning the Outer Critics Circle Award. Janney was last seen on Broadway in the musical "9 to 5," for which she earned a Tony nomination and won the Drama Desk Award.

J.K. SIMMONS (Dr. Harold Lerner)
J.K. Simmons has appeared in diverse projects spanning motion pictures, television and the stage on and off-Broadway. He is known for playing the character J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s “Spider Man” trilogy. Other motion picture credits include “Hidalgo,” “The Ladykillers,” “The Mexican,” “Off the Map,” “For Love of the Game,” “The Gift,” “Thank You for Smoking,” “Rendition,” “Burn After Reading” and, memorably, his portrayal of the off-beat but not deadbeat father, Mac McGuff, in the hit comedy “Juno.”

On the small screen Simmons played LAPD Assistant Chief Will Pope in TNT’s hit series “The Closer.” He also played Vern Schillinger on HBO’s acclaimed drama “Oz,” and had a recurring role as Dr. Emil Skoda on NBC’s “Law & Order.” He has had guest starring roles on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” and a recurring role on TBS’ new hit comedy “Men at Work.”

Simmons’ latest films include “The Words,” “The Music Never Stopped,” “Jennifer’s Body,” “Extract,” “The Vicious Kind,” “ I Love You Man,” “Beginner’s Guide to Endings,” “Contraband” and the Academy Award-nominated “Up in the Air.” Last year he was seen in theaters in the biopic “Jobs” and in Jason Reitman’s “Labor Day.” Recently, he completed work on Gillian Raimi’s feature “Murder of a Cat” and Jeremy Sisto’s indie “Breakpoint.”

Simmons has appeared on the Broadway stage in performances of “Guys and Dolls,” “Laughter on the 23rd Floor,” “A Change in the Heir,” “Peter Pan” and “A Few Good Men.”

Earlier this year, Simmons filmed Jason Reitman’s latest feature, “Men Women and Children,” and the hit comedy “Growing Up Fisher” opposite Jenna Elfman for NBC. He also starred in Sony Classics’ “Whiplash,” which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and won the Dramatic Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize for best film. He is currently at work filming the new “Terminator” film for Paramount.

BELLA HEATHCOTE (Karen Gabney)
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Bella Heathcote is quickly emerging as one of Hollywood’s most sought after talents. In 2010, after being honored with the Heath Ledger Scholarship Award for her performance in the Australian war epic, “Beneath Hill 60,” Heathcote moved to Los Angeles to further pursue her acting career and has since been working non-stop with an impressive roster of award winning directors. Heathcote was named one of Variety’s “10 Actors to Watch” 2012.

She will soon be seen in “The Curse of Downers Grove,” opposite Lucas Till and Kevin Zegers, and directed by Derick Martini, based on Michael Hornburg’s novel, Downers Grove. Last year, she starred in David Chase’s feature film “Not Fade Away,” about a group of friends that form rock band in 1960s New Jersey. Prior to that, Heathcote was seen in Tim Burton’s “Dark Shadows,” as the romantic lead opposite Johnny Depp. She was hand selected by Burton to play Victoria Winters and Josette du Pres in his film adaptation, released in 2012.

In 2011 she was seen in Andrew Niccol’s sci-fi thriller, “In Time,” starring Amanda Seyfried and Justin Timberlake. Heathcote made her feature film debut in the 2008 film “Acolytes” and is well known in her native country for her starring role on the long-running series Neighbors.

CHRIS ELLIOT (Professor Jim Harper)
Chris Elliott stars in the new CBC series, Schitt’s Creek, opposite Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara. He is also the star of the [adult swim] series "Eagleheart," and a comedy legend known for his hugely-influential anti-sitcom "Get a Life" and cult classic film "Cabin Boy." Elliott is widely recognized for his regular appearances on sitcoms like "How I Met Your Mother" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" as well as his roles in films like "There’s Something About Mary" and "Groundhog Day." He has also written four books, most recently the unauthorized autobiography, The Guy under the Sheets.

About the Filmmakers

MARC LAWRENCE (Writer / Director)
Marc Lawrence began his writing career on NBC's "Family Ties" starring Michael J Fox, for which he received Emmy and Humanitas nominations. His film screenplay credits include "The Out-of-Towners" starring Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn, and "Forces of Nature" starring Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck. As writer and producer, he made "Life With Mikey" starring Michael J Fox and "Miss Congeniality" and "Miss Congeniality II," both starring Sandra Bullock. He wrote and directed "Two Weeks Notice" starring Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant, "Music and Lyrics" starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, and "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" starring Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker. Lawrence lives in New York City with his wife Linda and children Clyde, Gracie and Linus. He considers his proudest achievement to be dropping out of law school.

MARTIN SHAFER (Producer)
Martin Shafer is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Castle Rock Entertainment. Castle Rock most recently produced “Bernie,’ and “Friends with Benefits.” Other titles produced include “Did You Hear About The Morgan’s”, “Flipped,” “Fracture,” “Music and Lyrics,” “No Reservations,” “Sleuth,” “Michael Clayton,” “The Polar Express,” “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset.”

The company has also produced such critically acclaimed films as “When Harry Met Sally,” “A Few Good Men,” (which was nominated for four Academy Awards) “Absolute Power,” “City Slickers,” “In the Line of Fire,” “Honeymoon In Vegas,” and “Misery,” for which Kathy Bates won the Academy Award for Best Actress, “The American President” and “The Shawshank Redemption” (nominated for seven Academy Awards), and “The Green Mile” (nominated for four Academy Awards). The company also produced the enormously popular hit television show “Seinfeld.” In 1995, Castle Rock Entertainment received the Excellence in Filmmaking Award at ShoWest.

Prior to forming Castle Rock, Shafer was President of Production for Embassy Pictures and served as Executive Vice President of Production at Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. In October 2000, Shafer received the Lifetime Achievement Award at Show East.

LIZ GLOTZER (Producer)
Liz Glotzer joined Castle Rock Entertainment at its inception, and was promoted to President in 1996. During her tenure, Castle Rock has produced over 75 films including: “When Harry Met Sally,” “Misery,” “Honeymoon In Vegas,” “In The Line Of Fire,” “Lone Star,” “Dolores Claiborne,” “A Few Good Men,” “City Slickers,” “Best In Show,” “Miss Congeniality,” “The Green Mile,” “The Polar Express,” and “Michael Clayton.” Castle Rock movies produced during Glotzer’s tenure have been nominated for, or won, nearly every major award including forty Academy Award nominations, nine of which were for Best Screenplay.

In addition to supervising all aspects of production and development for the company, Glotzer has produced or executive produced fifteen movies including “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Fracture,” “Bernie,” “Music & Lyrics,” “Friends with Benefits,” and Richard Linklater’s “Before Sunrise” trilogy.

Prior to joining Castle Rock, Glotzer was an executive at the Samuel Goldwyn Company.

She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.F.A. from USC’s prestigious Peter Stark Program.

DAVID KOPLAN (Executive Producer)
After an early career as an actor, David Koplan produced his first feature film in 2004 with Ray McKinnon’s “Chrystal” starring Billy Bob Thornton. His subsequent credits include Adam Rapp’s “Winter Passing” with Ed Harris, Zooey Deschanel, and Will Ferrell; Rapp’s “Blackbird”; McKinnon’s “Randy and the Mob”; “The Last Lullaby” with Tom Sizemore; Jada Pinkett Smith’s “The Human Contract”; Tim Blake Nelson’s “Leaves of Grass” with Edward Norton; “Thanks for Sharing” with Tim Robbins and Gwyneth Paltrow; and Diablo Cody’s “Paradise.” He is also executive producer on the Farrelly Brothers’ upcoming “Dumb and Dumber To.”

JONATHAN BROWN (Director of Photography)
Veteran cameraman Jonathan Brown began his career as a camera operator who specialized in the Steadicam, and earned credits on notable films like “Four Rooms,” “Two Bits,” “Norma Jean and Marilyn,” “Sling Blade,” “Gattaca,” “Bulworth,” and “Apt Pupil.” He then served as second unit director of photography for “The Four Feathers” and “Waking up in Reno” before earning his first major DP credit on “Big Fat Liar.” His other credits include “Just Married,” “Cheaper by the Dozen,” “The Family Stone,” “The Pink Panther,” “School for Scoundrels,” and “The Internship.” His most recent release is the comedy “Walk of Shame” with Elizabeth Banks, and is currently working on the new Tea Leoni series, “Madame Secretary.”

KEN ELUTO (Editor)
Ken Eluto is a six-time Emmy award nominee, and won the award for single-camera editing on a comedy for the series “30 Rock.” He edited 67 episodes of the long-running series. His other television credits include the HBO series “Bored to Death” and “Oz,” the acclaimed “Homicide: Life on the Street,” and documentaries for PBS’ “American Experience” and “Frontline.”

OLA MASLIK (Production Designer)
Ola Maslik served as the assistant art director on the series “Life on Mars” before earning her first art director credit for the series “How to Make it in America.” She served as art director for the films “The Oranges” and “Rabbit Hole.” Since 2011, she has been a production designer on indie films such as “Somewhere Tonight” with John Turturro, “Ass Backwards” with Jon Cryer, and this year’s Sundance hit “The Skeleton Twins” with Bill Hader and Kristin Wiig. Her upcoming films include “Brother’s Keeper” with Nick Kroll and Rose Byrne, and “The Great Gilly Hopkins” with Julia Stiles.

GARY JONES (Costume Designer)
Gary Jones earned an Academy Award nomination for his work on the film “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” one of over forty credits on his professional resume. His work dates back to Brian de Palma’s thriller “Dressed to Kill,” and 1980-90s credits as either assistant or principal costume designer include “Trading Places,” “Heartburn,” “The Mosquito Coast,” “The Trip to Bountiful,” “Working Girl,” “Postcards from the Edge,” “Bonfire of the Vanities,” “Dave,” “Love Affair,” “The Mambo Kings,” “The English Patient,” and “Desperate Measures.” Since 2000, he has been one of the industry’s most in-demand costumers, with credits including “The Princess Diaries,” “The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,” “Spider-Man 2,” “Valentine’s Day,” “New Year’s Eve,” and “Oz the Great and Powerful.” He also served as costume designer for the 2014 season of the Emmy-winning series “Person of Interest.”