Since the 1930's, executions had dwindled in the U. S. and in the late 1960's the death penalty had lost popular support, so between 1967 and 1977 there were no executions whilst the Supreme Court evaluated its constitutionality. In 1972, execution for capital cases was suspended when the Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional as "cruel and unusual punishment" in violation of the Eighth Amendment (1791). This was overturned in 1976 when the Supreme Court declared that, through restructure of capital trials and guiding the discretion of jurors, death sentences could once more be applied.
Texas resumed executions in 1982 and since then has led the nation (285, as of writing) out of a national total of 807. In 2002, half of all the executions in the United States took place in Texas, which still has 454 inmates on Death Row awaiting their dates. (There are 3,697 offenders under sentence of death in the United States. )
About the cast
Kevin Spacey exploded onto cinema screens seven years ago when he starred in three films back to back: Swimming with Sharks, The Usual Suspects, for which he won his first Academy Award®, and David Fincher's Seven. He went on to star in such films as L. A. Confidential, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Looking for Richard, The Negotiator, Hurlyburly, K-PAX and Lasse Hallström's The Shipping News opposite Judi Dench, Julianne Moore and Cate Blanchett. He won the Academy Award® as Best Actor for his performance in Sam Mendes' American Beauty opposite Annette Bening.
Prior to this, he co-starred in Glengarry Glen Ross with Jack Lemmon, Consenting Adults for director Alan Pakula, and The Ref opposite Judi Davis and Denis Leary, directed by the late Ted Demme. His work in television has included Darrow for American Playhouse and the CBS series Wiseguy.
Spacey is also a Tony Award-winning stage actor, appearing on Broadway in such productions as Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night and Lost in Yonkers by Neil Simon, for which he took home the Best Supporting Actor Tony.
In 1997, Spacey formed Trigger Street Productions, which produced O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh with the Almeida Theatre at the Old Vic in London. Spacey won the Olivier Award for Best Actor for his performance in this production. Trigger Street then produced the play on Broadway with Emanuel Azenberg where the production was nominated for five Tony Awards. Trigger Street also produced the Off-Broadway production of Lee Blessing's Cobb at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, and recently re-staged it at Garry Marshall's Falcon Theatre in Los Angeles. Spacey continues to be associated with the Old Vic Theatre in London where he plans his return to the stage in 2004.
Trigger Street has also produced the feature films The Big Kahuna starring Danny DeVito and, most recently, The United States of Leland, written and directed by first time filmmaker Matthew Hoge and starring Don Cheadle and Ryan Gosling. Spacey made his feature directorial debut with the film Albino Alligator, starring Matt Dillon, Faye Dunaway and Gary Sinise.
Most recently Spacey helped launch TriggerStreet. com, an interactive web site dedicated to the nurturing and development of undiscovered talent, sponsored by Budweiser.
(Elizabeth "Bitsey" Bloom)
Kate Winslet grew up in a family of actors and began performing on British television when she was thirteen. At the age of seventeen, she made her name internationally in Peter Jackson's feature film Heavenly Creatures. She followed that in 1995 with her role as Marianne Dashwood in Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility. Winslet received her first Academy Award® nomination for this performance and was also nominated for a Golden Globe. She then went on to win the BAFTA and the Screen Actors Guild Award.
In her next film, she co-starred with Christopher Eccleston in Michael Winterbottom's Jude and then as Ophelia in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet. She then went on to appear as the amazing Rose in James Cameron's Titanic opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. At the age of 22, Winslet received her second Academy Award® nomination for this role, and the honor of being the youngest actress ever to be nominated for two Academy Awards®.
Up next in 1997, Winslet starred as Julia in Hideous Kinky directed by Gillies MacKinnon, and in 1998 co-starred with Harvey Keitel in Jane Campion's comedic drama Holy Smoke. She also starred in Philip Kaufman's Quills along with Geoffrey Rush, Joaquin Phoenix and Michael Caine.
Winslet was most recently seen in Iris, for which she received Golden Globe and Oscar® nominations and Michael Apted's Enigma, a spy drama about code-breakers during early WWII. She will next be seen in Neverland with Johnny Depp.
Laura Linney received an Academy Award® nomination in 2001 for her performance in Kenneth Lonergan's widely praised independent film, You Can Count On Me, opposite Matthew Broderick and Mark Ruffalo. She was awarded Best Actress by the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics, and was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Golden Globe Award and an Independent Spirit Award. Most recently, Linney won an Emmy Award for her portrayal of Iris Bravard in Showtime's Wild Iris. In addition, she was recently nominated for a Tony Award for her role in The Crucible on Broadway.
Prior to this, Linney appeared in such films as Primal Fear opposite Richard Gere, Peter Weir's The Truman Show, Clint Eastwood's Absolute Power and The House of Mirth, based on Edith Wharton's turn-of-the-century novel of the same name. Linney made her feature film debut in Congo. Most recently, she re-teamed with Richard Gere for The Mothman Prophecies, which was released in 2002. She recently completed production on the romantic ensemble comedy Love Actually, as well as Clint Eastwood's Mystic River, starring opposite Sean Penn.
A graduate of the Julliard School, Linney starred on Broadway in Phillip Barry's Holiday opposite Tony Goldwyn, and in John Guare's Landscape of the Body at the Yale Repertory Theatre. Other Broadway credits include Gerald Gutierrez's Honour opposite Jane Alexander, Six Degrees of Separation, The Seagull and Hedda Gabler, for which she won a 1994 Calloway Award. She won a Theatre World Award and a Drama Desk nomination for her performance in Sight Unseen.
Gabriel Mann recently starred in The Bourne Identity with Matt Damon and in Stephen Gaghan's Abandoned opposite Benjamin Bratt and Katie Holmes. He will next be seen in Buffalo Soldiers opposite Joaquin Phoenix and in Exorcist: The Beginning, directed by Paul Schrader.
In addition to the critically acclaimed Sundance winner High Art, Mann's credits include Allison Anders' autobiographical story Things Behind the Sun, Josie and the Pussycats, Mike Tollin's Summer Catch, Michael Corrente's Outside Providence, How to Make the Cruelest Month, Antonio Tibaldi's Claudine's Return, Alfonso Cuaron's Great Expectations, Parallel Sons and I Shot Andy Warhol.
Rhona Mitra, who recently completed filming Highwaymen opposite Jim Caviezel, landed her first feature film role in Paul Verhoeven's Hollow Man shortly after arriving in Los Angeles from her native England. She was then cast as Scott Wolf's girlfriend in the television series Party of Five. Subsequent credits include Get Carter, starring Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine and Miranda Richardson, the British film comedy Ali G Indahouse, the ABC television series Gideon's Crossing and the BBC mini-series The Maid Who Made Husbands Jealous. Mitra was most recently seen in Sweet Home Alabama opposite Reese Witherspoon.
Matt Craven can be seen in three films in 2003 - Bandido, The Clearing and Timeline - as well as The Life of David Gale. His other feature film credits include Dragonfly, Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her, Paulie, Crimson Tide, K-2, Indian Summer, A Few Good Men, Jacob's Ladder, Tin Men and the critically acclaimed independent film, Bulletproof Heart. Craven made his feature film debut in Ivan Reitman's hit comedy, Meatballs, and subsequently starred in Bravery in the Field, which was shot for the National Film Board of Canada and was nominated for an Academy Award®.
Craven starred in the Showtime film Bleacher Bums and has recurring roles on E. R. and the new hit series Boomtown. He was a series regular on L. A. Doctors and the Steven Spielberg drama series High Incident. Other television credits include Nuremberg, Varian's War and the mini-series From the Earth to the Moon.
Leon Rippy was born and raised in North Carolina. Introduced to acting at an early age, he has appeared in more than 70 plays. He has also founded and operated two professional theater companies, traveled with the circus and was foreman of a cattle ranch.
Rippy's feature film credits number more than 30 and include The Patriot, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Beyond the Law, Moon 44, Kuffs, Young Guns II and The Color Purple. He was most recently seen in Eight Legged Freaks. Rippy and his wife live in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles with their two children, four cats and one dog. Whenever possible, they enjoy spending time at their Carolina farm.