Casting the Spell -
transcript of the documentary on the DVD

~Lisa Johnstone~

 

On set in the kitchen of the Owen's house, we see Stockard Channing (Aunt Frances) and Dianne Wiest (Aunt Jet) in front of the camera, in place for the 'Midnight Margaritas' scene. A crew member holds a clapperboard in front of them and closes it with a snap. 'Our' camera pulls back, allowing us to see the cameraman and the focus puller. The title rolls over the screen: 'Casting the Spell'.

Crew Member: Marker. 'A' camera.

Griffin Dunne (Director): (OS) Action.

Wiest (as Jet): Filet of fenny snake in the cauldron, boil and bake.

Channing (as Frances): [Pouring ingredients into the blender ... uh, cauldron] Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.

Jet: Adder's fork and blind worm's sting.

Frances: Barbados lime is just the thing!

Jet: Cragged salt like a sailor's stubble.

Frances: [Putting the lid on the blender] Flip the switch ...

Jet & Frances: [Together] ... and let the cauldron bubble!

[Cut to]

Dunne: They call themselves the Siamese twins from 'Sideshow'. They really are so interconnected. Stockard is playing Aunt Franny. [Shots of later in the Margarita scene, as the Owen's get drunk - Franny, then Jet] She's the salt if Jet is the sugar, who is Dianne Wiest. And Stockard is very salty.

Scene from film: Inside the house ...

Jet and Frances look at one another.

Aunt Jet: Get the bird.

Aunt Frances: Get the book.

[Cut to]

Nicole Kidman (Gillian): Well, I've always wanted to work with Stockard. I've seen her on stage so many times, and been amazed by her talent. [Yet more shots of the Margarita scene] So to be in the same film as her is an honour.

Scene from film (the Margarita one, of course):

Gillian: I don't know where that came from. That was weird.

Aunt Jet: She's never been interested in her gifts. She just made all that up.

[Cut to]

Sandra Bullock (Sally): Dianne is just so natural. You have no idea she's working. And she's just an incredibly free, gentle spirit, which I love being around. She's got a wicked sense of humor, too. Wicked.

Scene from film:

Aunt Frances: No, dear, we can't back out at the last minute. We're on the committee.

Aunt Jet: Yes.

Aunt Frances: We're presenting.

Aunt Jet: Yes.

Sally: Fine. But I do not want them dancing naked under the full moon.

Aunt Jet : No, of course not, dear. The nudity is entirely optional, as you well remember! (Sally slams the door behind her as she rushes out.)

Another scene from film: Dead Jimmy (Goran Visnjic) lying on the kitchen table as the girls work to resurrect him. Suddenly his eyes shoot open.

Gillian: Hi.

Jimmy shoots up from the table and grabs his beloved Gillian around her neck.

Gillian: No! (Starts to choke. She beats at him uselessly with her fists, but he’s not letting go.)

Jimmy: I want you to be my wife! Can you promise me that? I want you to be my wife!

[Cut to]

Bullock: Goran. He had the hardest job in this film. He had to pull off something that is so easy to pull off badly. What I love about Goran is his accent. He says he's going to 'Las Wegas'. I say, 'Goran, it's 'Vegas. Las Vegas.' [imitating Visnjic] 'Oh, I say that, Las Wegas.'

[Cut to]

Visnjic: She tease me about my accent. You know, but, okay, that's good joke. Because of that, I always, when I speak to her, then I'm going to my trailer and working hard on my accent.

We see Griffin Dunne discussing a scene with Visnjic as Nicole Kidman talks over the top.

Kidman: (VO) Goran plays my horrible boyfriend.

Dunne: (OS) Let's do a wrap rehearsal.

[Cut to]

Kidman: But he's also extremely good-looking, as you can see. [Cut back to Visnjic on set] So Gillian has this thing where she loves big, gorgeous men. [back to Kidman] And that's what Goran is.

On set shots of Visnjic rehearsing, at one point handling a small snake.

Dunne: (VO) The part was originally written for a guy from Texas. Kind of a redneck. You've seen the guy, you know, real bad guy. You know, 'Yippee-i-yay'.

[Cut to]

Visnjic: I always say it's not bad guy, it's a good guy actually. It's just misunderstanding. [laughs] It's very interesting character. Something that I never done before in Croatia.

[Cut to]

Dunne: I said, he's from Croatia, doing a Texan? That's a little weird for me. But, um, a Croatian, now there's interesting. And Eastern Europe, which is the birthplace I think, of, you know, mystical and magic and gypsies, and it just gave me something else.

Scene from film: Sally and Gary in the conservatory.

Gary: (Raising his eyebrows) Witch people.

Sally: Ah-ha.

The scene continues to play throughout the following voiceover.

Denise Di Novi (Producer): Aiden Quinn's been one of my favourite actors for years. The part of Gary Hallet, we always pictured Gary Cooper. We wanted somebody who had that vibration of being good, and honest and decent. And Aiden has that. I think he has that in life and he has that in the movies.

We see more behind-the-scenes filming, of when Sally and Gary first meet.

Gary: My name’s Gary Hallet. I’m a special investigator for the State Prosecutors office in Tucson. (He shows Sally his badge)

[Cut to]

Bullock: Ol' blue eyes. Um, my mom said something about Aiden which is absolutely spot on, and she said: 'You look at Aiden, and the man comes with an incredible amount of integrity.' He does, and you see that in his eyes. [Shots of Gary and Sally in the conservatory] A good actor can say nothing, and say more than most people who talk - like myself - a lot. He has a gift that resonates out of him. And I don't know what it is, it's just that blessed special thing that he was born with.

Scene from film:

Gary: (to Sally) If you will trust me, tell me what you know, I promise you that I will do everything I can to keep you from harm’s way.

The scene continues to play as Griffin Dunne speaks.

Dunne: (VO) He's like Jimmy Stewart in this thing. Truly a hero. It's very difficult to pull off being the guy who shows up more than halfway through the movie, who's gonna be the love interest. It was always something that worried us. How do you tell a love story if he shows up halfway through? He' s the breath of fresh air that walks in the door.

Scene from film: Gillian in the school on Phone-Tree Day.

Gillian: (Grins and turns to face the group.) Yup, that’s right. I’m back. Whoo! (Raises her arms above her head and wiggles her hips seductively) Hang onto your husbands, girls ... (claps her hands on her waist and thrusts her pelvis forward.)

[Cut to]

Bullock: I'd never met her in my life. I was like, 'Nicole Kidman seems like the perfect person.'

Scene from film: Phone-Tree Day cont.

Nan: You know, she screwed Coach Havacre. (Gillian whips her gaze forward to stare at the back of the mothers head. On the desk in front of the mom is a ringbinder, the rings themselves standing open. They promptly snap shut of their accord, catching the mom’s thumb.) Ow! (Shoves her pinched finger into her mouth)

[Cut to]

Bullock: Our energies are so opposite, that we needed what the other person had. I know I needed what she had.

Scene from film: Phone-Tree Day cont.

Sally: (in a low voice, to Gillian) Don’t do that!

Gillian: (Looks almost insulted) It wasn’t me.

Sally: Well, I certainly didn’t ...

Gillian: It was you. (The two sisters giggle together)

[Cut to]

Bullock: I don't know why I thought of her or why that worked. It's like one of those things. [mock-excited, making finger-quotes in the air] It's "one of those things" - those magical things!

Scene from film: Phone-Tree Day cont.

Gillian: (Clapping loudly) Woo! Go, Sal! (in a lower voice, to Sally) Now, that was me.

[Cut to]

Dunne: This woman is really funny. You know, and she's Australian. They have a lot of fun in Australia. [Shots of rehearsals for the Margarita scene where the Owen's witches dance around the centre table] She's got a really fun, great, wild side, just like Gillian. [Shots of Gilian dancing by the swimming pool with several young men] And I thought, 'My God, I've never seen Nicole be able to do that in a movie.' She dances and sings [Shots of Sally and Gillian attempting the resurrection spell on Jimmy] and jumps around and acts incredibly silly. And also does the other thing that Nicole, I think, is very well-known for - that extraordinary depth.

Scene from film:

Gillian is in her attic bedroom, sitting in the lotus position, wearing headphones and humming. Sally runs in.

Sally: Gilly! Gilly!

Gillian can’t hear her. Sally yanks the headphones off her head, and Gillian shrieks in surprise.

Sally: (Breathless) Gilly! There’s a cop downstairs and he’s looking for Jimmy and he wants to talk to you, and ... I think I’m having a heartattack. (She claps a hand over her chest and starts pacing nervously)

Gillian: Okay, just calm down. Caaaaaalm down.

[Cut to]

Di Novi: She brings a real detailed specific way of dealing with characters.

Scene from film (cont.)

Gillian: (Standing up quickly) Oh, my god, of course you can lie to him! Breathe, breathe. Here’s the story. Here’s the story.

[Cut to]

Di Novi: She inhabits them in a way that is fascinating to watch. She works really from the inside out.

Scene from film (cont.)

Gillian: We left because he hit me. And we haven't seen him since. It's as simple as that.

[Cut to]

Kidman: I've mainly got the chance to work with men in my career, so the idea of working with Sandy on something like this - I thought, 'Wow, that sounds fun, and I want to work with a girl!'

[Cut to]

Dunne: They just have this great chemistry. I think you might have noticed, they look nothing alike, which is very true in witches' families. I researched it. Witches' sisters don't really look very much alike at all. [We see various shots of the two sisters together] I don't think they'd really known each other before this movie, but they act exactly like sisters. They fight, they laugh at the same jokes, they're familiar with each other in that historical way.

Scene from film: Gary, Sally, and Gillian in the kitchen, discussing Jimmy Angelov's car.

Sally: (Thinking fast, speaking even faster) We - we stole it, and it’s a crime, I know this, but - but he basically kidnapped her -

[Cut to]

Di Novi: Sandy really brings a humanity to everything she does. What is in real life is a completely open, kind, warm, very humane person. That really comes through in her work.

Scene from film cont.

Sally: And, we would be so happy to give him back his car, because -

[Cut to]

Aiden Quinn (Gary): I don't even know if she knows how incredibly gifted she is. I mean really, really talented. And without any of the baggage of big ego, or 'big star' thing, or anything like that.

[Cut to]

Di Novi: She's also very funny. She's able to do drama beautifully. And she has a very particular personal style of comedy that's pretty adorable.

Scene from film cont.

Gary: Would you mind if I just took a look around?

Sally makes noises that Gary takes to mean, ‘okay’. He walks past her and out of the room. Gillian and Sally look at each other.

Gillian: (Silently mouthing, fierce) What is wrong with you?

Sally: (Also silent and vehement) I don’t know!

[Cut to]

Dunne: You know, in the movie business, you're always hearing how great somebody is and they're not. In this case, it's a great joy because everything I've heard about her is even better.

Behind-the-scenes filming of rehearsal for the scene where Sally cuts down Jimmy's phantom-grown red roses. Sandra Bullock, Griffin Dunne and several other crew members are in shot. Bullock is kneeling on the ground, and Dunne stands behind her.

Bullock: It's the rule!

Dunne: I got great stuff.

Bullock: [turns around to the camera, grabs Dunne's arm, and wiggles it about for emphasis as she speaks] Can I tell you something? Griffin says, 'This is great', then he makes you do it 15 times again. [referring to the number of takes]

Another crew member inspects Sandy's forearm, where there's a real scratch from the rose thorns.

Bullock: Look!

Crew member: Looks like we made a real one.

Dunne: Oh my God! [Pulls Sandy's arm up high while she makes pretend 'I'm in agony' faces] That's the look. And what about this? [Goes to tickle her under the arm. She laughs, flinches, and pulls away] I'm sorry. [He pats her on the back and she over balances, ending up on all fours. He helps her up, kinda] Come on, let's go.

Shot of Dunne, back behind camera.

Dunne: Action!

Back to the Midnight Margaritas scene. Bullock and the others joke around with each other. Sandy pulls her pigtails up on top of her head like a demented Pippi Longstocking and makes a face, pinching her lips and flaring her nostrils.

We see Dunne reviewing the scene he's just filmed, and Wiest, Channing, Bullock and Kidman are sitting with him. He points at the monitor where Dianne Wiest comes into shot.

Dunne: There! I got her!

More Margarita rehearsal, back in the kitchen. Dunne stands near the table, with Bullock to his left, Channing and Kidman in front of him. He speaks to Kidman.

Dunne: [Wiggling his upper body like a suffocating fish] Don't do this.

Kidman: [Jokingly speaks as if trying hard to memorise the instructions] Don't do this ...

Dunne: [Doing the same move but with his arms out to the side] Yeah. And don't do that.

Scene change - we move to the swimming pool with Goran Visnjic, who crouches by said pool holding the same snake he was holding earlier.

Another scene change - Wiest, in Jet costume, outside the house and seated at the table. She tries some of the food.

Sandy and Nicole rehearse the roses scene in the back yard.

Back to the Margaritas scene, Dunne continues his 'instructions', still wiggling his upper body.

Dunne: All that, all that. All that stuff.

Back out at the phantom roses scene, Sandy walks away from the camera and back towards Dunne.

Bullock: It bothers me so much ... [She reaches out towards him and adjects his sunglasses]

Dunne: You know, not everyone's ears are the same. [He moves his head side to side]

Bullock: I know, I know, but if you ... [stops and laughs]

Scene change - to the exterior of the Owen's house, as it's being built.

Back to Sandy attempting to fix Dunne's sunglasses. He lightly whacks him on the right side of his head a couple of times, then takes his glasses off.

Bullock: ... if you, uh ... [stops and examines the glasses] See, look at how crooked-looking it is!

Scene change - filming the end of Sally and Gary's scene in the conservatory, where Sally says, sure she did kill Jimmy Angelov - a coupla times. Gary looks confused, then starts up the steps towards camera. He shakes his head and speaks into camera. Dunne yells 'Cut!'

Another scene change - Antonia and Kylie out in the back yard, about to have breakfast with Gary, Sally, and Gillian. Dunne speaks to the two girls about their 'motivation'.

Dunne: (to Alexandra Artrip [Antonia]) Okay? Okay.

Artrip: So, forget the bacon.

Dunne: [With a dramatic sweeping gesture] Forget the bacon! You hate bacon. You're playing a kid who hates bacon.

Quick shot of Stockard Channing, brushing the hair away from her face.

Back once more to the roses scene, where Sandy kneels on the ground in front of them, holding the shears.

Bullock: [to the camera] Just let me go where I feel, emotionally, the scene should go. [She leans back and manically snaps the shears together]

Scene change - the Margarita dance scene. Dunne is still instructing the gals on how to move.

Dunne: It's the third part I most wanna break down.

Bullock: [teasingly] Now what part is it you wanna break down, Griffin?

Dunne: [puts on a swagger, deepens his voice] Well, let me tell you, Sandy, what I had in mind.

Bullock: What is it? Please explain. [Starts to laugh]

Another scene change - Dunne outside, directing from a chair, probably the scene near the beginning of the movie with Jet, Frances, young Sally, young Gillian, and Magpie, the family kitten.

Dunne: Cut! Back to one. Good kitty, though.