Evil Woman : Production Notes

About the Production

A year ago, Hank Nelken and Greg DePaul were at a friend's engagement party when they came to the realization that their buddy was going to marry the wrong woman. That moment became the inspiration for a comedic love story that would develop into their feature film debut as screenwriters.

Executive producer Brad Luff recalls the origins of the project: "I've been a fan of these writers for a while, and we've been working with them on other projects. Hank and Greg pitched the idea to me, and it was just so funny. Many of us have friends who are dating somebody who we just can't stand, and that situation is taken to the utmost extreme in Evil Woman. "

"The difference between a great idea and a great screenplay is in the execution," adds producer Neal H. Moritz. "What the screenwriters were able to do is write hysterically funny situations that came out of the characters. It's a wonderful script that has many emotional moments, but it's definitely an out-and-out comedy. They gave it a fresh point of view and a distinct voice, which is what you look for every time you read a screenplay. It's a wildly funny movie with great characters and great heart. "

With a winning screenplay in hand, the producers looked next for the director who could handle a film with this level of comedic complexity, as well as the idiosyncratic characters and in-your-face absurdities. They didn't have to look far.

"Nobody has better comedic timing than Dennis Dugan. He knows how to get the jokes," states Moritz, who collaborated with Dugan last year on the television pilot "Shasta McNasty. " "He was the first director we gave it to. "

Dennis Dugan, an accomplished film and television director, boasts a background that reflects a wonderful mix of hit comedy films (big daddy (1999), Happy Gilmore (1996)) and critically acclaimed television dramas ("Chicago Hope" and "NYPD Blue").

"I think this is a very funny comedy," says Dugan. "It's looney. It's as nuts and twisted as you can get. But we worked really hard to make the characters real characters and make the plot a real plot. From the beginning, I said I didn't want funny cars, funny locations or funny props, I just wanted a completely real world so that these characters can be twisted and crazy within that world. "

After snagging Dugan, the filmmakers began the casting process for the story's band of outrageous characters. They secured the talents of some of the busiest young actors in Hollywood.

"We were very lucky with our cast," states Dugan. "We were able to get all of our first choices. We were so sure of the mix. "

Jason Biggs takes on the title role of the nerdy, hopelessly helpless romantic Darren Silverman. "I couldn't stop laughing out loud," recalls Biggs. "It was probably the funniest script I've read since american pie (1999). "

Biggs sees his character as a pretty average guy who really believes in the idea that there is a "one and only someone" out there for him. Silverman secretly believes that "someone" is Sandy (Amanda Detmer), a cheerleader he was close to in high school. Before he can reveal his true feelings to her, however, she moves away to join the circus as a trapeze artist.

"The years pass," says Biggs, "and that's where the movie really begins, with me still believing that she was the 'one and only' someone for me. I still haven't gotten over her. And then I meet this girl named Judith, and I immediately fall for her. Actually, she makes me believe that I fall for her. She's kind of my puppet master. Within a few weeks we are living together and engaged to be married. She has me convinced that she's my one and only someone. "

Steve Zahn's character, Wayne, doesn't exactly approve of the relationship. In fact, he'll do whatever it takes to keep his blood brother from inadvertently ruining his life and their friendship.

"I'm kind of the ringleader of these three guys," explains Zahn of his role. "I'm a real control freak, but in a good way. I decide where we all go, what we wear. .. even when we kidnap Judith. It's totally my decision. I run the show. But, at the same time, there are a lot of vulnerable aspects to the guy, which I really dig in a character. "

One of the linchpins of the character of Wayne is his 'cosmic connection' to legendary singer Neil Diamond. You see, Wayne was born on a hot August night in 1972, right in the middle of a Neil Diamond concert. His fanatical adoration for this man rubs off on Darren and J. D. and, in tribute, they form a cover band called "Diamonds in the Rough," devoted entirely to his music.

Jack Black, who recently appeared with John Cusack in High Fidelity (2000) and also composes music and fronts his own band, Tenacious D, plays J. D. , the third amigo in this triangle. "J. D. 's a simple man with simple needs. He's a very low maintenance dude," explains Black of his character. "The three of us are like the Three Musketeers. We're best friends, and I guess I'm the dumbest one. Actually, we're all kind of dumb. "

The cause of Wayne and J. D. 's indignation comes under the name of Judith Snodgrass-Fessbeggler, portrayed by Amanda Peet. A stunning brunette who makes her living as a therapist, Judith has uncanny insight into Silverman's many emotional susceptibilities and takes full advantage of them.

Peet says of her character's situation, "Judith's modus operandi is to be with Darren Silverman, and most of the movie is about her attempt to hold on to this impossible situation. Some people think she's evil, but. .. " it remains for audiences to figure out Judith's true motives.

Judith's polar opposite, the angelic Sandy, is played by Amanda Detmer, who has worked with Biggs previously. "We recently both starred in the same movie, but we didn't actually get to work together. So this film has been wonderful for us because we got to appear in the same scenes!"

Detmer has a high regard for all the actors. "The cast in this film is like a mutual admiration society. I think we all appreciate each other's individual talents. And it's pretty hard to keep a straight face-they're all hilarious. "

Rounding out the cast is veteran actor R. Lee Ermey, who plays the infamous Coach, an ongoing influence in the lives of Silverman and his two best friends. Says Ermey of his character, "He is their role model. Whenever they have a problem that they can't solve, they see the coach about it, and they solve that problem according to the coach's philosophy about sportsmanship. But the coach is a total lunatic. He's so far away from anything I've ever played. I had a great time with this guy. "

It was director Dennis Dugan who suggested the pivotal addition of Neil Diamond to the story. He recalls, "I said to the writers, we ought to have a musician in this movie, and I didn't want it to be someone of Darren, Wayne and J. D. 's generation. .. it just didn't seem twisted enough to me. Given that, there was only one man for these hip guys to like-Neil Diamond. So we wrote him into the script, with great affection, you know, because we really are fans of his. "

"My first impression, before reading the script, was that I didn't want to do another movie," admits Diamond. "I did The Jazz Singer years ago and realized that acting wasn't something that I really wanted to do; I wanted to stick with singing. But they said to me, you are a real part of the story. So I started reading the script and laughed until the end of it. It was just too funny not to be a part of it.

"I feel flattered and honored by the whole thing," continues Diamond. "It's fun, it's exciting, and it's also true. There are a lot of groups who use my repertoire. A lot of my fans are reflected in this film, and I think they'll get a big kick out of it as well. "

Three Neil Diamond fans were no farther away than the set itself. Admirers Biggs, Zahn and Black had the opportunity to meet and perform alongside the legendary singer/songwriter.

"These guys have their day jobs, but their passion is their Neil Diamond tribute band, Diamonds in the Rough. They sing on the promenade and put the guitar case out for money," says Dugan. "It's great because Steve and Jack are real musicians, so we were able to record 'Cherry, Cherry' and 'Holly Holy,' songs used in the movie. "

Zahn and Black took part in several recording sessions while in Vancouver. For one session at the Blue Wave Studios, they had a surprise visit from Neil Diamond, who joined them to lay down guitar tracks for "Cherry, Cherry. "

"I love acting. It's great. But I tell you, there was something about being on stage with screaming fans and belting out a tune with Neil Diamond that was just incomparable. It was really amazing," states Jason Biggs.

"It was cool to work with Neil," adds Jack Black. "He's a living legend. "

The concert featured in the final scene of the film was the largest and most complex sequence in Evil Woman (aka Saving Silverman). Staged at Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum, 4,000 extras filled the stands to hear Neil Diamond act and sing. Co-producer and production manager Warren Carr was instrumental in pulling all the elements together.

"We approached it like any other concert," says Carr. "Dennis would ask me on a regular basis how it was going, and I'd say it's going to be real. It'll be a real concert. The viewing audience won't know we weren't at a real Diamond concert, and that was the goal.

"I think the cast was nervous to start with," recalls Carr of Biggs, Zahn and Black being up on stage performing with Neil Diamond. "Then it became such a kick. They're up on stage singing 'Holly Holy,' and the girls and Ermey are doing a kind of Supremes dance routine in the background. And everyone-Neil Diamond, our cast, Neil's band, the crew, the audience in the stands-was having a blast. It was reflected everywhere. It was a great time!"

The demands on the cast for Evil Woman included everything from martial arts training for Amanda Peet to cheerleading practice for Jason Biggs and Amanda Detmer. In fact, Detmer even had to tackle the flying trapeze.

In addition to the physical comedy in the film, "we have pyrotechnics, car crashes, fight scenes and aerial circus acts," says Carr

Principal photography for Evil Woman took place in Vancouver, British Columbia. Among the other key locations used in filming were Vancouver College for the boy's high school football field and the interior of Coach's office, and the popular shopping area of Granville Island, which became the promenade where the boys performed as "Diamonds in The Rough. " The showdown at Darren and Judith's wedding was filmed at the Stanley Park Dining Pavilion, and Lord Byng High School doubled for the boy's elementary school cafeteria and high school parking lot. Judith's office was actually an office at Woodlands Hospital, and the scenes in the prison visiting room, interior cell corridor, and exteriors of the police station were all filmed at the Riverview Hospital Crease Clinic Building.

Contemplating the story and reflecting on his own experience, Dugan recalls, "the movie orbits around the idea that there's a 'one and only someone' for everyone out there, somewhere. If you work hard and you keep hope alive, it can actually work out for you. I completely believe that theory," he continues. "I had always hoped that someone spectacular was out there for me, and it turned out to be true. The exact second that I first saw my wife. .. oh man, that was it. I knew I had found my one and only someone.

"That's the premise of our movie. It works out, in convoluted and twisted ways, for everybody in the picture. That includes getting the real Neil Diamond, who was the 'one and only someone' to play that part," smiles Dugan.