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further down the Spiral
(12/7/02 7:38:06 pm)
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"Vicious Circle" by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
I apologias if this has been posted. But I did search. if it has. Please moderator. be my guest and delete this thread ...

Vicious Circle

How Naomi Watts became the ''Ring'' leader. What did the ''Mulholland Drive'' star have that Jennifer Connelly and Gwenyth Paltrow didn't? by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh

Gwyneth Paltrow might have been the one to cough up hair balls. Jennifer Connelly almost gushed blood from her nose. Kate Beckinsale could have caused the horse to commit suicide. Instead, the box office phenomenon of the moment, the supernatural thriller ''The Ring,'' is being carried by a little-known Australian actress whose greatest claim to fame was a starring role in David Lynch's 2001 art-house noir, ''Mulholland Drive.'' The choice seems to have paid off, but banking on Naomi Watts to carry ''The Ring'' was enough to cause the filmmakers some initial chills of their own.

Director Gore Verbinski's remake of Hideo Nakata's 1998 Japanese smash ''Ringu'' -- the first film in a successful trilogy -- showcases Watts as Rachel Keller, a cynical reporter and single mom who watches a videotape that causes its viewers to die seven days later. In January 2001, DreamWorks production chiefs Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald watched a copy of ''Ringu,'' on videotape, and within three hours the husband-and-wife team agreed to pony up more than $1 million for the remake rights. (By comparison, ''Ringu'''s entire budget was just $1.2 million.) Verbinski, who had directed DreamWorks' ''Mouse Hunt'' and ''The Mexican'' for the pair, signed on soon after, along with screenwriter Ehren Kruger (''Scream 3''). All agreed that the script could remain fairly faithful to the Japanese film for the first hour (''Ringu'''s second half, which emphasized a psychic character, would need rejiggering). But what they couldn't agree on was a lead actress.

''These movies work best without a marquee star,'' insists Verbinski, who as casting began in summer 2001 was still smarting from critics' drubbing of ''The Mexican,'' which starred marquee names Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt. ''But there is a knee-jerk response from a studio, because [they're] spending money, to go out and get somebody.'' Paltrow was considered, as was Connelly (who hadn't yet made a splash with ''A Beautiful Mind''). But when Connelly expressed concerns about ''The Ring'''s moral ambiguities -- in particular, the depiction of Rachel as an inattentive mother -- and requested script changes, the producers became increasingly antsy. They began to consider both Beckinsale (''Pearl Harbor'') and Watts, whose performance in the then-unreleased ''Mulholland Drive'' was said to be strong. Parkes and MacDonald secured a screening of ''Mulholland Drive,'' Verbinski flew to London to meet Watts, and the deal was sealed. ''People were like, 'You're going to get pigeonholed with psychological thrillers,''' says Watts. ''But I just thought the character was really good. She's a reasonably flawed woman, a little bit self-obsessed, and not the greatest mother on the planet.''

Watts agreed to report weeks later to the set in Massachusetts, but at the last minute, she was rerouted to Seattle. Tom Duffield, ''The Ring'''s production designer, had planned to return from a location scout on Sept. 11 (aboard flight No. 11, from Boston to L.A.). Though Duffield was lucky enough to miss his flight, the filmmakers weren't willing to shoot in a state that required cross-country air travel from L.A. Not that filming closer to home made conditions easier. ''The hours were horrendous, much worse than usual,'' says Watts, who was required in nearly every scene. And an ardent perfectionist was at the helm. ''It was six-day weeks when we filmed in Seattle, five-day weeks in L.A., and the last three days of the week would be 18 hours,'' the actress says.

Verbinski makes no apologies for the grueling schedule or for his determination. ''It's always a battle,'' he says. ''Gravity pulls you towards mediocrity. Walter and I have done three movies together, and [we've had] healthy fights, but they've been drawn out and ugly. On this one, there was a lovely, healthy kind of [acceptance] that this is how we work, and the film will be better because of it. I mean, you're always over budget, there's never enough money, so okay.''

Maybe not enough, but certainly plenty: The final budget for ''The Ring'' neared $50 million, which means that the movie will need to be more than a Halloween sleeper. But with a first-weekend take of $15 million, it's no surprise that Parkes and MacDonald are already considering a sequel, in which Watts is contractually obliged to star. ''We'll see,'' says Watts. ''But if all the elements are right, why not?'' In other words, Tolkien and Wagner might not be the only ones with a ring cycle.

the chosen infected
(12/7/02 7:48:32 pm)
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Re: "Vicious Circle" by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
I agree. They went with a real mutt. This lady would've been my first choice:

manipulator of the Virus
(12/7/02 8:05:30 pm)
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Re: "Vicious Circle" by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh

She never sleeps..
7 days..

OMG Becca is soooo Hot! \/ My God \/