rush-hour fender-bender on New York City?s crowded FDR Drive, under
most circumstances, wouldn?t set off a chain reaction that could
decimate two people?s lives. But on this day, at this time, a minor
collision will turn two complete strangers into vicious adversaries.
Their means of destroying one another might be different, but their
goals, ultimately, will be the same: Each will systematically try
to dismantle the other?s life in a reckless effort to reclaim something
he has lost.
for court, high-powered attorney Gavin Banek (Ben Affleck) is weaving
through heavy traffic. In a different lane, is Doyle Gipson (Samuel
L. Jackson), a father, whose right to see his children rests on
the decision of a judge with a full docket and no time to spare.
On the surface, Banek and Gipson are two very different men: One
is struggling to reach the top of his career; the other is desperately
scrambling away from rock bottom. But a minor accident will drive
these two strangers to the brink of self-destruction, and prove
that rage can equalize any playing field when men turn into beasts.
Lanes" marks the American directorial debut of Roger Michell, the
award-winning British director whose 1999 romantic comedy "Notting
Hill" garnered worldwide accolades from both audiences and critics
alike. "Changing Lanes" also marks the screenwriting debut of Chap
Taylor who, along with Academy Award?-nominated screenwriter Michael
Tolkin ("The Player"), grabbed Michell?s attention with their dynamic
script immediately captured my imagination," says the director.
"It?s about a chance meeting between two men that spins them out
of their orbits, causing them to behave in irrational, strange and
violent ways. You just don?t expect the steps these guys will take
to get at each other."
Award? winner Ben Affleck stars as 29-year-old Gavin Banek, an attorney
on the fast track who appears to have everything -- a beautiful
wife, a Mercedes and a yacht on the way. But all of that is threatened
when his law firm involves him in an ethically questionable case,
and Gavin is troubled by moral questions he?s never had to face
Affleck, the role proved to be the kind of challenge he was waiting
for. "A script like this makes you work harder and demands more
thought," says the actor. "You?re required to think a little bit
more about your own experiences and the emotional weight that you
bring to a project. I think it makes me a better actor to continually
challenge and push myself, and Roger Michell has been so helpful.
Without him, my performance wouldn?t have been half of what it is.
He?s been a wonderful gift to this film." Affleck first received
the script for "Changing Lanes" while filming "Pearl
Harbor" and read it in the midst of that production?s exploding
bombs and nonstop action.
was sitting on the deck of an aircraft carrier reading the script,
and it was a real page-turner," remembers Affleck. "It struck me
as honest in the way that it detailed how people fall apart. What
was especially appealing was that it?s different from what I?ve
done before. It isn?t about some grand event, it isn?t of historical
or political importance, and it isn?t an epic tale. But it is a
very personal story of two men coming unraveled. I felt it would
afford me the chance to do the kind of acting that I haven?t had
the opportunity to do until now."
developing a backstory for his character, Affleck imagined that
Gavin Banek had originally been a very passionate, idealistic law
student. But after a few years with such a cutthroat firm as Arnell,
Delano and Strauss, his high ideals slowly eroded, and without his
realizing it, Gavin?s integrity is compromised. "Institutions can
take the humanity away from people," observes Affleck. "Sometimes
moral integrity gets sacrificed to keep the wheels turning." CLIP
complex a character as Gavin Banek is, his counterpart, Doyle Gipson,
portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson, is equally intriguing. A recovering
alcoholic, whose wife is trying to take his children away from him,
Doyle is a tormented man who sees what?s most important to him slipping
away. In casting the role, Michell was convinced that Jackson could
portray the beleaguered Doyle with the empathy the character required.
is obviously a wonderful, wonderful actor," says Michell. "A lot
of his films, like ?Shaft,? ?Jackie Brown? or ?Pulp Fiction,? portray
him as very hip and very cool, but this is an uncool role. I mean,
this guy Doyle isn?t hip, he?s the reverse of hip. He?s awkward
and clumsy. He?s a guy who just doesn?t fit in."
agrees, adding that he rarely sees scripts depicting characters
that are as square as Doyle Gipson is.
is the anonymous one we pass on the street and pay no attention
to," Jackson observes. "He?s got the nondescript suit, the ordinary
haircut and regular glasses. He?s an everyday Joe whose life is
suddenly changed by something outside his control, and I figured
it would be interesting to explore that, because I don?t run into
that kind of guy that often."
went on to point out that he believes the average audience member
is going to immediately side with either Gavin or Doyle, but that
most people will probably lean toward Doyle because Gavin?s high-powered
attorney status gives him the means to cause such harm.
can do things that Doyle can?t," explains Jackson. "And what he
does is pretty malicious. It?s going to have long-term repercussions
on Doyle?s life."
the one steady voice of reason in Gavin?s disintegrating life, is
also the same person who leads him to the man who makes Doyle?s
credit disappear. This complex character, portrayed by Toni Collette,
is Michelle, Gavin?s colleague and former mistress. CLIP
life has become very rigid, very black and white," observes Collette,
"and Michelle adds color to it. She?s also a reflection of the goodness
in Gavin. She?s his conscience, and she spends most of the movie
wanting him to be the best person he can be."
Gavin?s need to succeed at all costs is Delano, his boss and father-in-law,
portrayed by Sydney Pollack. Delano is an individual who defines
the essence of someone who has succeeded by creating his own highly
flexible code of ethics, and surrounding himself with people who
are willing to accept his vision of the world. CLIP
describe Delano as a semi-cynical realist," says Pollack. "He?s
a guy who?s ambitious, tough and unsentimental in his view of what
is required to be successful in a highly-competitive world. For
Delano, morality is a balance sheet. One makes up for infractions
by occasionally doing good. He?s got it all worked out for himself,
and that?s the kind of law firm he runs. I don?t agree with him,"
adds Pollack, "but what he says is not necessarily untrue. In fact,
I think his philosophy probably matches those of an awful lot of
high-achievers in the financial world."
best known as the Academy Award?-winning producer-director of "Out
of Africa," enjoyed the change of pace of being in front of the
camera instead of behind it.
don?t act very often, but there?s a good reason to do it," he explains.
"Directors get to see a lot of actors, but we never get to watch
each other work. So every time I work as an actor, I learn something
that?s useful when I direct." As for his experience working for
Roger Michell, Pollack has nothing but praise. "Roger?s very precise.
He knows exactly what he wants," says Pollack. "He?s also open to
suggestion, but has very clear ideas of his own, and I enjoy that.
You feel his confidence."
for his experience working for Roger Michell, Pollack has nothing
but praise. "Roger?s very precise. He knows exactly what he wants,"
says Pollack. "He?s also open to suggestion, but has very clear
ideas of his own, and I enjoy that. You feel his confidence."