Leaves of Grass

When Ivy League classics professor Bill Kincaid receives news of the murder of his estranged identical twin brother, Brady (both played by two-time Academy Award® nominee Edward Norton), in a pot deal gone bad, he leaves the world of Northeastern academia to travel back to his home state of Oklahoma.  Upon arrival, he finds that reports of his brother’s death are greatly exaggerated, and he’s soon caught up in the dangerous and unpredictable world of drug commerce in the backwaters of the Southwest.

In the process, he reconnects with his eccentric mother (Academy Award® winner Susan Sarandon), meets a wise and educated young woman who has bypassed academia in favor of the gentler rhythms of life (Keri Russell), and unwittingly helps his troubled brother settle a score with a pernicious drug lord (Academy Award® winner Richard Dreyfuss) who uses Tulsa, Oklahoma’s small Jewish community for cover.

Leaves of Grass follows a twisting narrative path merging crime drama, drug comedy, classical philosophy and sudden violence in pursuit of answering one of humanity’s oldest questions: What does it truly mean to live a happy and constructive life?

Written and directed by Tim Blake Nelson, Leaves of Grass stars Edward Norton, Keri Russell, Tim Blake Nelson, Susan Sarandon, Richard Dreyfuss, Josh Pais, Pruitt Taylor Vince and Melanie Lynskey.  The film is produced by William Migliore, Tim Blake Nelson, Edward Norton, Elie Cohn, John Langley and Kristina Dubin and executive produced by Avi Lerner, Boaz Davidson, Danny Dimbort, Trevor Short, David Koplan, Stuart Blumberg and Eric Gitter. 

In addition to having this game of twins, Leaves of Grass is peppered with classical, literary and philosophical references. Scattered throughout are allusions not just to Whitman in the title, but to the works of Shakespeare, Catullus, Plautus, Sophocles, Sappho, and many others.  We quote a number of philosophers including Epicurus, Aristotle and Socrates. 

“I knew that I wanted to give the movie to Edward while I was writing it,” says Nelson. “I was certain that he was not only the actor to pull off both roles, but also the best actor to play each role individually. At the time Edward was taking some time off, but I insisted that he read it, because I thought that this might be an exception. Luckily, he agreed.”

“It’s like a vacation for me to act in a movie. Directing isn’t always a good time. I wanted to up the stakes this time and try to do both. I felt this was the right movie on which to do it because acting-wise, the script is kind of a love letter to the guy who was going to play the twins, and I thought it would be appropriate rhetorically for the director of the movie to play the sidekick and be there in the frame in support of him.”

“This whole thing is very much an expression of who Tim Nelson is,” agrees Norton. “He’s dreamed up the unlikely interplay between classical philosophy and Oklahoma pot dealers.

“The challenge was, both technically and artistically, to blur that line you sense in these movies,” says Edward Norton on the challenge of bringing the Brothers Kincaid to life. “To really blur the line to where you can’t help but go ‘there’s no way those two people aren’t actually interacting with each other.’”

“We have beards, tattoos, eyebrow extensions – a whole gamut of things that make the two brothers different,” says Makeup Department Head Randy Westgate.

First Look Studios will release Leaves of Grass on April 2, 2010.

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