A Beautiful Mind
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John Forbes Nash Jr.
What it's about:
On the surface, he had everything: Good looks, a devoted wife and child, and a mathematical genius that earned the respect of some of the world's greatest minds. But by his early 30s, the brilliant eccentric had descended into mental illness, his schizophrenia leaving him unable to think either creatively or rationally. As his condition worsened, he fell into obscurity. But his work did not. After a decades-long struggle to conquer his illness, John Forbes Nash Jr. resurfaced. And in 1994, his early work won him the Nobel Prize in economics.
Ed Harris (Parcher), Jennifer Connelly (Alicia Nash), Christopher Plummer (Dr. Rosen), (Charles), Judd Hirsch (Helinger), Josh Lucas (Martin Hansen), Jason Gray-Stanford (Ainsley), Anthony Rapp (Bender), Adam Goldberg (Sol), Vivien Cardone (Marcee)
Directed by Ron Howard
Screenplay by Akiva Goldsman
Based on the biography "A Beautiful Mind" by Sylvia Nasar
Original music by James Horner
"A Beautiful Mind" / Score
Coming to DVD and video June 25th! and save!
Cinematography by Roger Deakins
Release date: December 21, 2001 in New York, Los Angeles and select cities
Wide release January 4, 2002
France: February 13, 2002
Argentina, Chili: February 21, 2002
Belgium / France: February 20, 2002
Netherlands, Slovakia: February 21, 2002
Italy, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom: February 22, 2002
Germany: February 28, 2002
Austria, Poland, Mexico: March 1, 2002
Australia: March 7, 2002
Imagine Entertainment / Universal / DreamWorks
Filming locations: New York and New Jersey: (New York City, Yonkers, Bayonne, Princeton, Jersey City, Belleville). Filming commenced March 26, 2001
(Click here for reports from the various sets)
(All information subject to change in the final version of the film. No spoilers below!)
It's easy to see why Russell wanted to play John Nash. Nash is brilliant, determined, tortured, focused. Intense. But his undiagnosed illness, schizophrenia, also leaves him largely isolated from the world around him. At times he seems awkward, self-centered, even antisocial. His decline is dealt with so subtly in the script that he never seems actually "crazy," just so consumed by that beautiful mind of his that he can't carry on a friendly conversation.
Things start out as a classic underdog story. Though he's just as brilliant or even more so than his classmates at Princeton, Nash isn't completely comfortable among them. The script implies he feels like an outsider, and that he's desperate to somehow distinguish himself from the rest of the intellectual elite.
He gets the chance when he's befriended by the solemn, mysterious William Parcher. By this time, Nash is married to a former student -- Alicia, who has a beautiful mind herself -- and he's working for the military out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Parcher recruits him for a top-secret military project, which only serves to isolate Nash more -- even from Alicia and their new baby. Paranoia sets in, and Alicia seeks help to free him from his fractured sense of reality.
The script intends to not just show Nash's descent, but to make the audience feel it. There's a strong visual element, which should help if it's pulled off convincingly. A few times, we get to see inside Nash's mind and how he visualizes numbers and formulas in relation to the world. There are also numerous scenes in which Russell gets to do what he does best -- those silent, intimate moments where emotions linger on his wonderfully round, expressive face.
Director Ron Howard has assembled a strong cast of supporting players, most notably Ed Harris as Parcher and Jennifer Connelly as Alicia. Parcher is the type of smart, no-nonsense character that Harris perfected in movies like "The Truman Show" and "Apollo 13" (also directed by Howard).
Second only to Russell in importance is Connelly. The film has moments of high drama, humor and even suspense. But its most powerful element is the love story. It is Alicia's spirit, as well as her love and understanding for a man who can at times seem an unlovable enigma, that gives us the reason for wanting Nash to recover. Connelly's always shown a mix of intelligence and strength in her films, and A Beautiful Mind could be the one that finally makes her a star.
The final 20 or so minutes of the two-hour-plus film covers a lot of ground, perhaps too much. On one page Nash is in a mental institution, the next he seems to be back to "normal," and the next he's acting strange again. There are also a few moments that come dangerously close to feeling like a TV movie of the week. If he's not careful, Russell could come off as chewing the scenery in a few scenes.
In lesser hands we'd be more worried. But director Howard has a knack for making films touching without ridding them completely of darker elements. Think of Steve Martin's relationship with dad Jason Robards in "Parenthood," or Mel Gibson's not-quite-so-perfect protagonist in "Ransom." Howard also has a knack for making crowd-pleasers, which this film can't help but be. (Granted, the story of a schizophrenic mathematician probably won't draw in as many moviegoers as "The Grinch").
We think we're gonna' like this movie. If it's done correctly -- and if all the talent involved pull their weight -- the sad, sweet, uplifting tale of John Nash Jr. will be just the kind of film for which Oscars were made.
This will be Russell's second time playing a non-fictional character. He portrayed tobacco company whistle-blower Dr. Jeffrey Wigand in The Insider in 1999.
Tom Cruise had also been approached to play Nash.
Sylvia Nasar won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography for "A Beautiful Mind."
After four decades in show business (and he's only 46), Ron Howard has done it all. He's starred in classic TV shows ("The Andy Griffith Show" and "Happy Days"), the film "American Graffiti," and is now one of Hollywood's most acclaimed directors, with movies such as "Night Shift," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Ransom," which starred Mel what's-his-name. He's also a producer, a writer, Emmy winner and won a Directors Guild Award for "Apollo 13" in 1996.
Jennifer Connelly plays Ed Harris' mistress in the film "Pollock", the role which earned Harris an Academy Award nomination for best actor. Among his competition for the award -- none other than our favorite Gladiator.
Harris also co-stars with Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator) in the 2001 film "Buffalo Soldiers." (Thanks to Dena)
Christopher Plummer appeared with Russell in The Insider, portraying Mike Wallace.
Paul Bettany stars in "A Knight's Tale", written and directed by Brian Helgeland, who co-wrote the Academy Award winning screenplay to L.A. Confidential with Curtis Hanson.
This will be Jason Gray-Stanford's second appearance on screen with Russell. Jason appeared in Mystery, Alaska as Bobby Michan.
Akiva Goldsman wrote the screen adaptation of "A Time to Kill," co-starring Kevin Spacey (L.A. Confidential).
Producer Brian Grazer had offered actor Robert Downey Jr. a supporting role in A Beautiful Mind, but rescinded the offer after Downey's drug problems got him arrested again in November 2000, just months after being released from prison.
Russell on preparing for the role:
"The mathematics, at the moment, are so far beyond my understanding. It's about instinctively being able to find an answer to a very complicated question and then prove how you got to the answer. Thankfully it's only a movie because I was hopeless at math when I was at school." The Scotsman (3/3/01)
Maximum Crowe exclusive interviews with Jason Gray-Stanford and
Sylvia Nasar on Russell:
"What an inspired choice! Crowe isn't just beautiful. He's a superb actor who's got it all: emotional intensity, presence, brains. This is a drama about the mystery of the human mind in three acts: genius, madness, reawakening. Crowe will be totally convincing in all of Nash's incarnations. He'll convey Nash's raw mental power and confidence at the outset, his torment and terrible isolation during his illness, and finally, his incredibly moving triumph. " (Maximumcrowe.com, September, 2000)
John Nash on Russell:
"I think he can play other roles than a gladiator, which obviously I am not." (New York Times, 9/10/00)
Ron Howard on why he chose Russell:
"I think there's an air of mystery about Russell and a level of complexity to him that really leant itself to this story. He can be the brawling physical force, but if you then look at The Insider there's a wonderful inner-turmoil. There's an idea that you don't quite know what to expect from him and I thought that was very appropriate that for this character." Empire Online, 12/00
On the Film:
"A wonderful dramatic story, very complex and very humanistic. Triumphant ultimately, but in a bittersweet way. Between the time Nash recorded some really remarkable achievements in the field of mathematics and economics and the time that he was awarded the Nobel Prize, he had a horrible period of mental illness. It's really this guy's complex journey, his rise and a fall, with a good-versus-evil battle going on in his own mind." Empire Online, 12/00
Russell on Ron Howard:
"It's great to work with a guy who understands the grave stones -- the resonance of silence. For me, I'd rather not say the page of dialogue if I can communicate the moment without words. That's where the power of a feature film comes from. When you take on such a complicated man and a story that could possibly confuse a regular audience, you need to have a consummate storyteller who's going to communicate all of that detail. He's a really great filmmaker. He's very confident, yet not demonstrative of his confidence. You see the extension of that confidence by how calm the set is. That's because he's prepared. He's done his work. Not all directors prepare at that level. There's a great deal of technical detail that you have to be familiar with in order to control the medium. It's a very elusive medium. It's the most expensive commercial art form that people work in. It's good to have thoughts and ideas and all of that stuff, but you have to be grounded technically in order to do the job at the highest level. He's just a good filmmaker.
"I think it's kind of funny that he has the whole world fooled that he's just a simple, easygoing guy. Where that's part of his nature, it's a very inefficient definition of Ron Howard. He's a very deep thinker. When I think back about making the movie, it's not about the complications with my character. It's about the pure and focused energy on the set. It allowed every performer in the movie to have a platform for experimentation and extend the boundaries that would normally confine them." (Maximum Crowe exclusive. Very special thanks to Dennis McCafferty / USA Weekend)
(Thanks to Karen)
(Thanks to Garth / Dark Horizons)
From Sylvia Nasar's book:
(Used with permission from Simon and Schuster)
"In almost everything he did -- from game theory to geometry -- he thumbed his nose at the received wisdom, current fashions, established methods. He almost always worked alone, in his head, usually walking, often whistling Bach.
"Nash acquired his knowledge of mathematics not mainly from studying what other mathematicians had discovered, but by rediscovering their truths for himself. Eager to astound, he was always on the lookout for the really big problems. When he focused on some new puzzle, he saw dimensions that people who really knew the subject (he never did) initially dismissed as naive or wrong-headed. Even as a student, his indifference to others' skepticism, doubt, and ridicule was awesome.
"...Underneath the brilliant surface of his life, all was chaos and contradiction his involvements with other men; a secret mistress and a neglected illegitimate son; a deep ambivalence toward the wife who adored him, the university that nurtured him, even his country; and, increasingly, a haunting fear of failure. And the chaos eventually welled up, spilled over, and swept away the fragile edifice of his carefully constructed life." (Copyright © 1998 by Sylvia Nasar)
Maximum Crowe/ A Beautiful Mind: PHOTOS AND IN PRINT
Russell, Akiva Goldsman, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard
Photos: Eli Reed / Universal Studios.
See our A Beautiful Mind: Site Map
for pages and pages of photos from the set,
exclusive interviews, articles, reviews and MUCH more!!!!!
A Maximum Crowe exclusive interview with (more added!!!)
Entertainment Weekly (Holiday Film Guide 11/2001)
A Beautiful Mind
Book on Tape
Book on CD
A Beautiful Mind
See our page for MUCH more!
A Beautiful Mind: Site Map
(Pages and pages of photos from the set, exclusive interviews, articles and MUCH more!!!!!)
A Beautiful Mind at MSN.com (Includes live chat transcript with Ron Howard)
Darkhorizons.com A Beautiful Mind
Countingdown.com View the trailer .
/ A Beautiful Mind
Script review: The Stax Report
John F. Nash's official Nobel Laureates autobiography
"Men of Mathematics" by E. T. Bell
"Bayonne's latest film deal"
Book cover from "A Beautiful Mind," by Sylvia Nasar
Copyright 1998 Sylvia Nasar, Touchstone Edition
(With permission from Simon and Schuster)
Photo: AP /Mike Derer
A Beautiful Mind: Site Map
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