Date: Mon, 17 Jul 1995 07:35:57 -0400 From: John Gummer <email@example.com> To: Multiple recipients of list MSM-L <MSM-L@vm.temple.edu> Subject: Benny & Joon Press-Kit -- Pt2 BENNY AND JOON ABOUT THE CAST JOHNNY DEPP (Sam) has earned acclaim for his work in several prominent feature films; however, it was his compelling performance in the title role in "Edward Scissorhands" that established him one of Hollywood's most sought-after talents. The Kentucky-born actor grew up in Miramar, Florida where he developed an early interest in music. Forming a rock band, appropriately named Kids, Depp found considerable regional success, eventually following the group to Los Angeles. When the band broke up shortly thereafter, he turned to acting on the advice of a friend. It wasn't long before Depp landed his first major acting job in "Nightmare on Elm Street." He went on to earn roles in several other features, including "Slow Burn," "Private Resort" and the Academy Award-winning Best Picture "Platoon." Depp then won the role that would prove to be his breakthrough, as undercover detective Tom Hanson in the popular Fox Television show "21 Jump Street." He starred on the series for four seasons before segueing to leading roles on the big screen, most notably in John Waters' "Cry Baby." Following BENNY & JOON, Depp will next be seen in "Arizona Dream" (filmed as "The Arrowtooth Waltz") in which he stars with Jerry Lewis and Faye Dunaway, followed by "Gilbert Grape" directed by Lasse Hallstrom. MARY STUART MASTERSON (Joon Pearl) got an early start on her acting career and has barely had a break since. Born into a theatrical family headed by her father, director Peter Masterson and mother, actress Carlin Glynn, she made her film debut in "The Stepford Wives" at the age of seven. She has continued to study acting throughout her life, primarily in New York City, and spent two summers at the Sundance Institute working as a resource for budding filmmakers. Today, for "tune-up," she studies sensory work with Gary Swanson. Masterson's first major film roles occurred in "Some Kind of Wonderful," opposite Eric Stoltz, and "At Close Range," starring Sean Penn. More recently, she starred in the acclaimed hit "Fried Green Tomatoes" and "Immediate Family," for which she won the National Board of Review's Award for Best Supporting Actress. She can currently be seen starring in "Married To It," with Beau Bridges and Ron Silver, and includes among her additional film credits "Heaven Help Us," "Mr. North," "My Little Girl," "Chances Are," "Funny About Love" and "Gardens of Stone." The actress has also enjoyed a successful stage career, primarily in and around New York City, and is a member of New York's Actors Studio. She has appeared off-Broadway in such plays as "Lily Dale," "The Lucky Spot" and "Been Taken." She recently starred with Frances McDormand and Linda Hunt in Princeton, New Jersey's production of Chekov's "Three Sisters." On television, Masterson's credits include a guest role on the series "Amazing Stories" and the telefilm "Love Lives On." Masterson has just completed writing her first screenplay, which she hopes to direct next year. AIDAN QUINN (Benny Pearl) is a classically trained actor who has consistently earned acclaim for his work in films, television and the theatre. An Emmy Award nominee for his work in the groundbreaking AIDS television drama "An Early Frost," he has more recently showcased his versatility in such distinguished feature films as "At Play in the Fields of the Lord" and "The Playboys." Born into an Irish family, he moved several times during his childhood from Ireland to America and back again. His family finally settled in Belfast, Ireland when Quinn was completing high school, but he chose to remain in the United States to earn his diploma before joining his kin across the Atlantic. After an introduction to the theatre in Ireland, he returned to the United States to pursue his acting career, beginning in Chicago. He appeared in several Chicago area productions before making his New York stage bow in Sam Shepherd's "Fool For Love" at the Circle Theatre in 1984. Quinn also made his feature film debut later that same year in James Foley's "Reckless," starring Darryl Hannah. Since then, Quinn has mixed extensive work on stage and screen. He made his Broadway stage debut in the role of Stanley Kowalski in the 1988 revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire, and has starred in such movies as "Desperately Seeking Susan, " 'The Mission, " "Stakeout, " "Crusoe, " "The Lemon Sisters, " "The Handmaid's Tale" and " Avalon." On the small screen, he has been seen in such prestigious projects as "All My Sons" on PBS and "A Private Matter" for HBO. Quinn is currently on location in Chicago for his latest feature, "Blink," directed by Michael Apted, in which he stars opposite Madeline Stowe. JULIANNE MOORE (Ruthie) enjoyed a busy year in 1992 and her success shows no signs of letting up in the coming year. She began last year with a stand-out role in the hit feature film 'The Hand That Rocks the Cradle," bringing her critical raves and numerous offers. Moore went on to land starring roles in three other films: Allan Moyle's 'The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag"; Robert Altman's "Short Cuts"; and Uli Edel's "Body of Evidence." A graduate of Boston University's School of Performing Arts, Moore has compiled extensive stage experience in shows ranging from Shakespeare to the avantgarde. Her numerous theatrical credits include the New York City Public Theatre's productions of both Caryl Churchill's "Serious Money" and "Ice Cream With Hot Fudge." She also starred off-Broadway in director Andre Gregory's interpretation of "Uncle Vanya." In 1988, Moore won an Emmy Award for her work on the daytime drama "As the World Turns." She has gone on to star in many television movies, including "I'll Take Manhattan," "The Last to Go" and the acclaimed HBO project "Cast a Deadly Spell," directed by Martin Campbell. Moore is currently working on the Warner Bros. feature "The Fugitive," due out in 1994. OLIVER PLATT (Fitz), most recently seen in the thriller "The Temp," got his first major break when he landed the role of G-man Ed Benitez in JonathaDemme's "Married to the Mob." Since then, he has starred in Joel Schumacher's "Flatliners," and had roles in two Mike Nichols successes, "Working Girl" and "Postcards From the Edge." He also appeared in the comedy hit "Beethoven" and in Caleb Deschanel's "Crusoe." Platt spent his childhood in Washington, D.C. and Asia and earned a degree in drama from Tufts University. He continued to hone his skills, training at Shakespeare & Company with Kristin Linklater. His theatre repertoire includes productions with some of New York's most respected companies, including the title role in "Ubu," presented at Lincoln Centre. He has also performed with Playwrights Horizons, the Manhattan Theatre Club and the Yale Repertory Company, among others. Platt will next star as Porthos in the upcoming remake of "The Three Musketeers." ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS JEREMIAH CHECHIK (Director) brings his expertise from numerous award-winning commercials and music videos to his second feature film, BENNY & JOON. The Montreal-born filmmaker majored in theatre arts at McGill University and, after graduating, moved to Toronto to pursue a career as a photographer and painter. In the late 1970s, Chechik travelled to Europe and established himself in Milan as a popular fashion photographer. Chechik began directing television commercials in the United States during the early 1980s. He went on to win both Clio and Directors Guild Awards for his advertising work, which included spots for such top accounts as AT&T and Hallmark, featuring such performers as Paul Newman, Whitney Houston and Phil Collins. As MTV grew, he also began directing music videos for several major artists, including Van Halen and Hall & Oates. Chechik's feature film directorial debut came on the 1989 hit "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," the third instalment of the Griswold family trips, starring Chevy Chase. The comedy was a commercial success, bringing Chechik to the attention of BENNY & JOON producers Susan Arnold and Donna Roth. SUSAN ARNOLD and DONNA ROTH (Producers) together bring years of diverse experience to BENNY & JOON, which marks their first film as producers. SUSAN ARNOLD began her career in the field of casting, eventually becoming one of the most respected casting directors in the industry. Starting out at New World Pictures, her earliest credits include "Piranha" and "The Lady in Red." From there, she moved to Paramount where she cast "Airplane" and the second season of "Taxi." Joining the casting department at Warner Bros., Arnold worked on such Clint Eastwood successes as "Every Which Way But Loose" and "Firefox," while casting 'National Lampoon's Vacation," "Independence Day" and "Gremlins." As an independent, was responsible for the casting of such movies as "Revenge of the Nerds," "Explorers" and "Top Secret." Between projects, Arnold devotes her time to the Imagination Workshop, a group of artists who work with the homeless and mentally handicapped. DONNA ROTH's background has been primarily in the area of development, beginning with her earliest experience as a script reader for her father, Samuel Arkoff, owner and operator of American International Pictures. She eventually went on to work in both production and development for such independents as Roger -and Julie Corman and Lawrence Gordon. In 1989, Roth and Arnold partnered to form Roth/Arnold Productions. BENNY & JOON marks the inaugural project for their production company. BARRY BERMAN (Screenwriter) will be making his feature film debut, as BENNY & JOON becomes the first of his scripts to make it to the big screen. He has, however, already made it to the Big Top. A native of Allentown, Pennsylvania, raised in Washington D.C., Berman applied to the prestigious Clown College in Venice, Florida at the age of 21. He and 50 others were accepted from among 5,000 applicants to attend the rigorous ten-week program. Following graduation, Berman was selected with 12 college clownmates to join the national company of Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. He toured the country in a boxcar with the troupe for a full year before hanging up his big shoes and moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. Berman had made a short film while crisscrossing the country with the circus, and that experience piqued his interest in filmmaking. In between auditions, Berman took up screenwriting and it soon became a full-time vocation. He has written several screenplays that are in development at major studios. He is currently at work on a script for MGM relating to his circus experiences, and has another project, "Waterfront," which he hopes to have produced this coming summer. BILL BADALATO (Executive Producer) has overseen a long list of big Hollywood productions, the most recent being the comedy hit "Hot Shots" and its upcoming sequel "Hot Shots! Part Deux." Born in Watertown, New York, Badalato entered the film business after studying economics at Cornell University and completing graduate studies at the New School for Economic Research. He began working in labour relations for Screen Gems and soon moved into production when he co-produced "Bang the Drum Slowly." He later served as the line producer for such films as 'Continental Divide," "Jaws II," "Young Doctors in Love," "The Man with Two Brains," "Cat People" and "Nighthawks." Badalato produced two movies for HBO, "Laguna Heat" and "Dead Solid Perfect," and was the executive producer on the box office smash 'Top Gun." He also co-produced '1969" and was the producer on "Weeds," starring Nick Nolte, and "Firebirds," starring Nicolas Cage. JOHN SCHWARTZMAN (Director of Photography) was one of the top cameramen in commercials, which is where he and director Jeremiah Chechik first collaborated. Highly sought after, Schwartzman was asked to shoot television spots for a number of the industry's largest sponsors. He has lensed ads for such companies as Pepsi, Reebok, Coke, Nike (with Madonna), Cover Girl and American Express. He has also filmed music videos for Madonna and Paula Abdul. Schwartzman's feature film cinematography credits include such movies as "Rockula," "Red Surf" and "You Can't Hurry Love," and the telefilm "To Save a Child." NEIL SPISAK (Production Designer) has enjoyed an unusually successful double career as both a costume and production designer. He began working in the wardrobe field as an assistant to the renowned New York-based costume designer Ann Roth. Since then, his costume designing credits have included the movies "Q & A," "The January Man" and "Stepping Out" and the PBS film 'Roanoke. " He has also designed the wardrobes for such Broadway plays as "Social Security," "Present Laughter" and "The Misanthrope." As a production designer, Spisak's talents have been seen on a number of films, including John Schlesinger's "Pacific Heights," Joel Schumacher's "Dying Young" and three films from Mary Stuart Masterson's father, Peter Masterson: "Nightgame"; "Full Moon in Blue Water"; and "The Trip to Bountiful." His additional production designing credits include the movies "Andre's Mother," "End of the Line" and "Tigertown." AGGIE GUERARD ROGERS (Costume Designer), an Academy Award nominee for Steven Spielberg's 1985 hit "The Color Purple," has also received widespread praise for her work on a number of other acclaimed films. Her first assignment was the enormously successful George Lucas film "American Graffiti." She has subsequently gone on to work with such noted filmmakers as Francis Ford Coppola on "The Conversation," Milos Forman on "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," Norman Jewison on "In Country" and Lawrence Kasdan on "I Love You to Death" and "Grand Canyon." Based out of the San Francisco Bay area, Rogers' impressive list of credits goes on to include such diversely costumed films as "More American Graffiti," Philip Kaufman's "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," "The Return of the Jedi," 'The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai," "Cocoon," "Pee Wee's Big Adventure," "The Witches of Eastwick," "Batteries Not Included," "Fatal Beauty," "Leonard IV," "Beetlejuice," "My Stepmother is an Alien," "Late for Dinner," "At Play in the Fields of the Lord" (American cast only), and "The Rest of Daniel." CAROL LITTLETON (Editor) has earned a sterling reputation for her work on some of the best received films of the past few years, including "E.T. - The ExtraTerrestrial," "The Big Chill," "The Accidental Tourist" and "Places in the Heart." She cut her career teeth on smaller films such as 'Roadie," 'The Mafu Cage" and 'French Postcards." She then segued to bigger projects, most notably on Lawrence Kasdan's "Body Heat." That film marked the beginning of a long-standing collaborative relationship with the filmmaker, with whom she has gone on to work on "Grand Canyon" and "Silverado." Littleton's additional film editing credits include "Brighton Beach Memoirs," "Swimming to Cambodia," "Vibes," "The Long Walk Home," "Revenge," "Crazy People" and "White Palace." RACHEL PORTMAN (Composer) is one of England's premiere composers, whose award-winning credits extend from film to television. Portman was honoured with the British Film Institute's Young Composer of the Year Award and also won the Television and Radio Industries Corp. Award for Best Television Theme for "Precious Bane." In addition, she has been twice nominated by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for her scores for "The Woman in Black" and "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit." She was more recently nominated for the Anthony Asquith Award for "Where Angels Fear to Tread." She most recently scored the critically acclaimed release "Used People," marking her third collaboration with director Beeban Kidron. Her other credits include "Antonia and Jane," "Four Days in July," "The Short and Curlies," "Life is Sweet," the Henson Organization series "The Storyteller" and 'The Greek Myths," the miniseries "Mr. Wakefield's Crusade," "Shoot to Kill," "Young Charlie Chaplin" and "The Little Princess."