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THE MOVIE: Everything is Illuminated

Elijah Wood • Eugene Hutz • Boris Leskin
DIRECTOR: Liev Schreiber

The quest… THE CONCEPT:
Based on the critically-acclaimed novel, the story of the Jonathan (Wood) and his quest to find the woman who saved his grandfather in a small Ukrainian town that was wiped out by the Nazi invasion. Helping him in his search are Alex (Hutz), a young Russian guide, and his grumpy grandfather (Leskin).

U.S. RELEASE: September 16 2005, Nationwide • Rated: PG-13


“When I read the short story I was very moved by it and at the same time I thought it was the most hilarious thing I had read in years. It’s really about people’s need to be connected. We follow these two people from vastly different cultures who should have absolutely nothing in common, but come to realize that there’s a deep connection between them that is emotionally and spiritually binding.”

“I haven’t made a journey of self-discovery like Jonathan, but it is something that I’d like to do. I know that I have family in Eastern Europe which is interesting to me. I’ve got roots there. I think that it’s Poland or Germany. The film came at a time in my life when I was asking those questions and wondering about my heritage. In some ways I feel like the closest thing that could resemble something like that in my life would actually be The Lord of the Rings. I left home at 18 and lived in New Zealand for 16 months on my own. It was an incredible learning experience.”

“When they called and told me the name of the movie I was like, ‘I’m actually reading the book right now.’ I could identify with the punk rock energy [of the book], it was a self-liberating energy, so I felt it was meant to be. I’m reading the book, they asked me to do the soundtrack, and while discussing that Liev asked me, ‘Do you think you could do Alex’s role?’ And I said, ‘I am that guy. I don’t think anybody else could do that role.”

“The reason I hired Elijah is I had been working in Europe and was hearing a lot of frustrating and derogatory things said towards Americans – the clichés and notions of who we are as a people really are ludicrous. So I was looking for a lead actor who could represent an image of Americans who could break some of the stereotypes and the molds. For me there is a kind of openness and sweetness in Jonathan that I don’t think people in the rest of the world have been exposed to, and I don’t think anyone embodies that better than Elijah Wood.”

“It was wonderful working with Liev, with a director who had never directed before and is an actor first. This is a character-driven film, so to have an actor at the heart of it was really helpful. He was very confident and it gave me great insight of what it could possibly be for me if I were to ever direct.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Feature © 2005 Visual Imagination.
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Film Review, #662, October 2005 cover

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