"Someone tell me, is that woman alive, right now?" Doug Carlin in DÉJÀ vu




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Déjà vu

Production notes

"Someone - tell me, is that woman alive, right now?" - Doug Carlin in DÉJÀ VU

Everyone has experienced the unsettling mystery of déjà vu - that flash of memory when you meet someone new you feel you've known all your life or recognize a place even though you've never been there before. But what if these strange, spooky feelings were actually warnings sent from the past or clues to an unfolding future?

In the captivating, new action-thriller from producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Tony Scott, written by Bill Marsilii & Terry Rossio, it is déjà vu that unexpectedly guides ATF agent Doug Carlin (DENZEL WASHINGTON) through an investigation into a shattering crime. Called in to recover evidence after a bomb sets off a cataclysmic explosion on a New Orleans ferry, Carlin is about to discover that what most people believe is only in their heads is actually something far more powerful - and will lead him on a mind-bending race to save hundreds of innocent people.

As Carlin's investigation deepens, it not only probes through the very fabric of space and time but becomes an innovative love story that unfolds in reverse when Carlin discovers his puzzling emotional connection to a woman whose past holds the key to stopping a catastrophe that could destroy their future. In the split second of a glance, without words yet with complete trust, Carlin takes one chance to change everything.

DÉJÀ VU is a Jerry Bruckheimer production of a film by Tony Scott for Touchstone Pictures. The film stars two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington ("Man on Fire," "Training Day," "Glory"), Val Kilmer ("Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," "Alexander"), Paula Patton ("Hitch," upcoming "Idlewild"), Adam Goldberg ("How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," "Saving Private Ryan") and Jim Caviezel ("Passion of the Christ").

Jerry Bruckheimer ("Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy, "Remember the Titans," "Pearl Harbor," "Armageddon") produces under his Jerry Bruckheimer Films banner. Tony Scott ("Man on Fire," "Enemy of the State," "Domino") directs. This is the 6th film production Jerry Bruckheimer and Tony Scott have collaborated on including "Enemy of the State," "Top Gun," "Beverly Hills Cop II," "Days of Thunder," and "Crimson Tide," which starred Denzel Washington. Bill Marsilii & Terry Rossio penned the script. Associate producers are Pat Sandston and Don Ferrarone.

The executive producers are Mike Stenson and Chad Oman ("National Treasure," "Bad Boys II," "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," "Pearl Harbor," "Black Hawk Down," "Remember the Titans"), Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio and Barry H Waldman ("Domino," "National Treasure," "Pearl Harbor").

Bruckheimer and Scott's DÉJÀ VU creative team includes cinematographer Paul Cameron ASC ("Collateral," "Man on Fire"), production designer Chris Seagers ("Man on Fire," "Domino," "Saving Private Ryan"), costume designer Ellen Mirojnick ("Chronicles of Riddick," upcoming "The Sentinel"), and Academy Award-nominated editor Chris Lebenzon ACE ("Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "Enemy of the State," "Crimson Tide," "Top Gun").

Déjà vu: The story begins

The spine-tingling sensation of déjà vu has mystified humankind for centuries. The feeling hits at the strangest moments - when we fall instantly and madly in love with a total stranger, when we arrive at a brand-new place we know like the back of our hand, whenever events occur that inexplicably feel like they must have played out somehow, somewhere before in our lives. From philosophers to filmmakers, we have all wondered: Where does this feeling come from? Is it all in the mind or does it emerge from some deeper reality? Why does it happen? And, most of all, what does it mean?

"It is these fascinating grey areas that lie at the heart of our film," says the star of DÉJÀ VU, Denzel Washington. A two-time Oscar winner who is regularly offered the cream of the current screenplay crop, Washington was swept up when he encountered DÉJÀ VU's uniquely time-shifting, backwards-moving structure and its provocative exploration of one of life's most inexplicable experiences through the lens of a love story and a crime-solving thriller. "I think we all have had the feeling that we have been somewhere before - I've had it, too," Washington admits. "I used to have this dream about a particular place in Brooklyn, and then one day I went there, and I couldn't help but feel like I had been there before. It's one of those big mysteries in life that I think everyone wants to get to the bottom of."

Indeed, everyone who first came into contact with DÉJÀ VU was instantly intrigued. It's not often that a screenplay arrives in leading producer Jerry Bruckheimer's office and is purchased within a matter of hours - but DÉJÀ VU, written by Bill Marsilii & Terry Rossio, was an exception to the rule. Bruckheimer, who has become a brand unto himself with a roster of films that span many of the most popular and influential films of the last two decades, felt right away that the script was something special. Screenwriter Rossio (along with another partner, Ted Elliott) had already written the wildly entertaining and phenomenally successful "Pirates of the Caribbean" series for Bruckheimer, as well as such runaway hits as "Aladdin," "Shrek" and "Zorro," among others. But with DÉJÀ VU, he and newcomer Bill Marsilii had ventured into fresh territory - taking a sleek, modern thriller and poignant romance out onto the edges of modern physics' understanding of time.

Recalls Bruckheimer, "The concept of DÉJÀ VU was completely original, a real page-turner, and different from any other love story I had ever read. We were fortunate enough to be the first ones to get a peek at it, so we bought the screenplay within forty-eight hours of receiving it."

Rossio and Elliot first formed their unusual writing partnership in the most modern of ways: in cyberspace. Around ten years ago, Rossio was in an America On Line chat room talking to different aspiring writers about their careers when he came across Marsilii and was immediately impressed by his insights and smarts about movies. The two seemed to have an instant creative rapport.

But Terry lived in Los Angeles and Bill in New York, so they began exchanging ideas and script concepts by e-mail over the course of several years. One of those ideas was for an unconventional, intricately woven thriller/love story that would take place unmoored from the usual rules of time. Starting with a deadly, heartbreaking tragedy, a federal agent would have to follow his sense of déjà vu and, using top-secret technology, trace his steps all the way back to the moment in time when he might have a shot at altering the catastrophe - and with it, his own chance for a once-in-a-lifetime love affair.

The idea seemed to have enormous potential but was also unusually complex, pushing the thriller into realms where it usually doesn't go. Soon Rossio and Marsilii were simultaneously developing the nuances of a romance-in-reverse, while also exploring next-generation surveillance technology and conversing with leading experts on the cutting-edge of String Theory and parallel universes.

Over time, Terry and Bill had each written different scenes that were fragments of DÉJÀ VU, but had never attempted to put it all together into one continuous narrative. Then, Rossio heard Jerry Bruckheimer Films was looking for a new large-scale film project, and he had a feeling this story of romance, crime and time travel would resonate with the producer. He and Marsilii cleaned up what they had and sent a first draft of DÉJÀ VU to Bruckheimer. They never looked back.

The result was wholly unlike the usual run-of-the-mill Hollywood thriller - and Bruckheimer loved that. Says Bruckheimer, "We felt that DÉJÀ VU had enormous drama to it because of what takes place around the love story. The idea that you can bring somebody back to life again is a wonderful concept. This story is risky, it's entertaining and it's romantic. And by bringing in Tony Scott to direct, we knew it would be filled with exciting action." Bruckheimer knew that Scott would bring his distinctive panache with visceral thrills to the film - but also something more.

"Tony, Denzel, and I had all worked together on 'Crimson Tide,'" says Bruckheimer, "but Tony and I hadn't really done a love story together since 'Top Gun.' DÉJÀ VU presented those same elements of action and drama but with the underpinnings of a beautiful romance tinged with incredible mystery. This was just the project to reunite us."

Scott brought with him to DÉJÀ VU a well-deserved reputation for being not only one of the most accomplished, but also one of the hardest-working, directors in Hollywood. Famously, his vision is so specific and well-crafted that he wakes up every morning at 3:00 in order to draw his own storyboards for the day, mapping out every inch of every action scene before anyone else is even awake. Yet, typically sporting his signature pink baseball cap, khaki shorts and Cuban cigar, Scott is also renowned for making the non-stop pace of an action/thriller feel effortless to the cast and crew. Most of all, Scott is highly regarded for his unique ability to generate visual excitement and dramatic fireworks on the screen.

Sums up Bruckheimer, "Tony brings the amazing scope of his artistry to every visual aspect of a movie. That is why you hire Tony Scott. He is a great storyteller who is extremely dedicated to his craft. We both had the same goal for this film: to take you away for two hours so you can forget about everything else and just get lost in the magic on the screen... and when those lights go down, you are in another world, the world of DÉJÀ VU."

The cast of Déjà vu

From the beginning, Jerry Bruckheimer knew exactly who he wanted to cast in DÉJÀ VU's lead role of ATF agent Doug Carlin - the tough-minded investigator who is forced to look in wildly unexpected directions for the answers to a heartbreaking crime. The producer was instantly put in mind of Denzel Washington. Not only is Washington one of today's most lauded actors, with Oscar-winning roles as a corrupted police officer in "Training Day" and a Civil War soldier in "Glory," but Bruckheimer was drawn to Washington's skill at carving out indelible portraits of strong, take-charge characters in such films as "Man on Fire," "The Pelican Brief " and, most recently, as the investigator in Spike Lee's critically acclaimed bank-heist movie "The Inside Man."

Says Bruckheimer: "Denzel is one of those actors who, as a moviegoer, you are always rooting for, which made him perfect for this role. As a federal agent, he's faced with an incredible situation where he can change the past. There is a line halfway through DÉJÀ VU where Denzel's character says '... all of my career I've been trying to catch people after they do something horrible. For once in my life I'd like to catch somebody before they do something horrible. Alright? Can you understand that?' That is the moment that you feel empathy for this tough ATF guy who has seen it all, and you are completely hooked. We knew Denzel would bring this story to life and have people in the audience want to take this journey with him."

Adds director Tony Scott, "Doug Carlin has great intuition, and Denzel is a very intuitive actor, so the fit seemed almost meant to be."

Washington was drawn not only to the thriller aspects of the story but to a relationship unlike any other he had ever encountered, that between Doug and Claire Kuchever, who, in a bizarre twist typical of the film's unexpected turns, appears to die before Doug gets to know her. "I loved that a big part of this story is a love story in reverse. My character encounters a young woman who's dead when he meets her, and then he gets a chance to watch her live. It sounds complicated at first, but with Jerry Bruckheimer and Tony Scott involved, I knew it was going to be a great ride," Washington comments.

To play Claire Kuchever, a woman with such a strong allure that she compels Denzel Washington's Doug to figure out her mystery, the filmmakers wanted a fresh face. They chose rising newcomer Paula Patton who recently starred as the diva who develops a stage show and a love affair with Outkast's Andre Benjamin in the musical "Idlewild."

For Patton, the chance to work with Washington was a dream come true. It also gave her a sense of déjà vu in its own right. "The relationship between me and Denzel was something that happened so organically, it made me think even more about what that feeling of déjà vu means," she remarks. "That same experience where you meet someone and you immediately feel comfortable and connected to them - that's what happened between Denzel and me instantly!"

Patton continues: "Working with Denzel is like working with a jazz musician. He's with the script but it can also go anywhere. He trusts himself and his instincts so deeply. It keeps you on your toes because you never know what direction he is going to turn next."

Washington felt an equal affinity for Patton's performance. "My character ends up watching every move Claire Kuchever makes through satellite surveillance footage leading up to her death. It is a bit voyeuristic, but it wasn't hard at all with such a beautiful actress as Paula Patton," he says. "The camera loves her, and everybody in the room falls for her."

Patton especially enjoyed turning Claire into a courageous and indelible female heroine. "Tony Scott is a true lover of women, and if you really look at his movies, all of his female characters are strong, independent and unique," she observes. "They all have a vulnerability and sexiness to them, but they are solid people. Even with a victim, like my character Claire is in this film, she still has a very compelling strength and power."

Also joining the cast as the prime suspect of DÉJÀ VU is Jim Caviezel, who previously made a rich impression on moviegoers in a very different role - offering a remarkable portrait of Jesus Christ in his final days in Mel Gibson's "The Passion of The Christ." Here, he plays a darker, disturbed character, but Caviezel simply couldn't resist the screenplay's rare mix of unpredictable thrills with compelling questions about the nature of reality.

"The story is definitely complex, but nobody can do complex better than Jerry Bruckheimer and Tony Scott and make it the most extraordinary movie-going experience in the process," says Caviezel. "I love that it's a thriller that tackles both the seen and the unseen."

Caviezel was especially excited to have a chance to work with such Hollywood powerhouses as Jerry Bruckheimer and Tony Scott. "I can remember seeing 'Top Gun' in my junior year of high school and, because of that film, applying to the United States Naval Academy three times. It was my favourite film ever, and suddenly I thought my destiny was to fly jets," he recalls. "Having this chance to work with them on this film was such a pleasure - Jerry and Tony are truly good people."

Also reunited with Jerry Bruckheimer and Tony Scott on DÉJÀ VU is Val Kilmer who teamed up with them many years ago as a young actor making his breakthrough in "Top Gun." Since then, Kilmer has gone on to a diverse career, starring as Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's "The Doors," working with Michael Mann in the acclaimed "Heat," collaborating with David Mamet on "Spartan" and recently joining Robert Downey, Jr, in the action-comedy "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." For this film, Kilmer had the opportunity to partner up with Denzel Washington as FBI agent Andrew Pryzwarra. That and the chance to work together with Bruckheimer and Scott a second time around were compelling draws.

Says Kilmer, "The size and spectacle of Jerry and Tony's imagination is very big and satisfying and their palette for action adventure unstoppable. Tony Scott is one of my favourite people, not just directors. He says good morning to 100 people on the crew by name, and his enthusiasm is what gets everyone through the shooting day. With Jerry and Tony, what I love being around is that they're very genuine people. They like the life they're living and they're generous with it, and it makes for a great experience."

Rounding out the cast is Adam Goldberg as the brainiac physicist Dr Alexander Denny who helps Denzel Washington understand the cutting-edge science behind the strange chain of events happening to him. Goldberg is best known for his roles on NBC's sitcom "Joey" and such feature films as "Keeping Up With the Steins" and "Stay Alive," but had never played a character like Dr Alexander Denny before. Modelling himself after some of today's leading physicists, Goldberg had a blast with the role, even while his own mind was being blown with everything he learned. Says Goldberg, "I play the mad scientist who knows all the theories behind wormholes and time tunnels and ways of bending time and space. It was quite daunting at times, because you can't really improvise your dialogue when you play a physicist. After all, they're dealing with the laws of the universe!"

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