The Safety of Objects
About the Production
Unlike most scripts that are either adapted from a written source or drawn out of a screenwriter's imagination, The Safety of Objects was inspired by numerous short stories as well as the real-life suburban experience of writer/director Rose Troche.
It was writer A.M. Homes' critically acclaimed short stories that filmmaker Rose Troche fell in love with. Recognizing a common thread, she was inspired to write a script incorporating them into a single narrative. This proved to be challenging due to the fact that the seven stories chosen by Troche had different characters, took place at different moments in time, in different settings. Troche not only wanted to merge these characters and story lines into four families, but also into a unified story to entwine their lives.
It took Troche a year and a half to combine the stories into one fluid tale. "It was like shuffling a deck of cards and every single time I would try to consolidate more and more until it felt like one story rather than a bunch of little disparate stories," recalls Troche.
When it came to finding producers to help bring her script to life, Troche turned to the two women who had produced her previous films. Christine Vachon of Killer Films executive produced Troche's directorial debut, Go Fish and Dorothy Berwin of InFilm Productions produced Troche's second film, Bedrooms and Hallways. After working on Troche's first film, Vachon had wanted to work with her on a bigger project. "Go Fish was an incredibly innovative film, that showed a lot of passion and a lot of moxy," states Vachon. "With very little means the film had real visual panache so I knew that given a bigger budget Rose would grow exponentially."
Producer Dorothy Berwin remembers Troche's desire to adapt Homes' short stories to a screenplay. "Rose came out with the idea of merging characters and cutting down the story lines and interweaving the whole thing to make it into a proper narrative," recalls Berwin. "It was almost like a mathematical process. She had color charts and bar codes and different pens and different pieces of paper. She would have cards for each of the characters and all the scenes. And every time she did a new draft she would dismantle the whole thing and put it back together again. It was a very complex piece of script writing. And I think Rose has done an astonishing job."
An example of how two different characters in Homes' stories could naturally be combined into one can be seen in Troche's storyline for the film character Jim Train. In Homes' short story 'Jim Train' a lawyer, having become alienated from his family defines himself through his work to such a degree that even when a bomb threat occurs in his office building he hates to leave his job. Then there is also the story 'Bullet Catcher,' where one day a man walks into a mall and decides to enter a contest to win a car. However, the contest is closed, so instead he picks a woman already in the contest to support. When she doesn't win he falls apart. "It seemed very logical to take Jim Train who was forced to leave his work and hook him to 'Bullet Catcher,'" states Troche. "Or to take 'Esther in the Night,' which is the story about Esther and make her the same woman who has entered the contest to win the car," she continued.
For Troche there was also the perplexing task of choosing one main theme. "The challenge was to pick what The Safety of Objects was going to be about – what sort of journey do all these characters have in common?" Troche realized that the characters "have invested their emotions, their sense of self in the wrong things – that they have come to define themselves either by the things around them or by their job. During the film the characters learn that they need to redefine themselves in order to keep going...to live."
Unlike many recent portrayals of suburbia by Hollywood, Troche did not want to villain-ize the suburbs nor did she want the audience to become like voyeurs looking into the lives of four families. Rather she wanted them to feel intimately connected with the characters – even if they did not condone their actions. "These characters have so many different motivations. They bring everything to their lives who they were, who they will be and who they are now. I think when we see that, we see a character who can do messed up things but that doesn't necessarily make them a bad person," says Troche. For the producers, this intimate and honest portrayal of the characters was refreshing after the recent rash of suburban films where the characters are a step or two removed from reality. "One of the main appeals to me about the script was that the characters were so intensely drawn. They drew so much on people that I know and remember from my childhood in the suburbs," says Marcus. "What distinguishes The Safety of Objects for me," adds Berwin, "is that Rose is very, very empathetic. These characters are not caricatures. They are real people. And that's really the key for me. That's what makes it so much more different and humane and what I think puts it on another level."
Troche spent years of her childhood in the suburbs, her parents from Puerto Rico, and acknowledges that the film is an overly white representation of suburbia. "I think there's an outdated idea that suburbs are filled with mostly Anglo-Saxon people. The reason I've depicted that in the film is because for me, symbolically, they still are. The suburbs require you in some way to assimilate," says Troche. "I think when moving to the suburbs you have to aspire towards whiteness and when you're not white, aspire towards a white washness."
In writing the script Troche used A.M. Homes' stories as a springboard to put forth her own experiences and feelings. "In writing the screenplay Rose, made the characters her own and put her stamp on it," adds Berwin.
With such real and profound characters plus such a witty and moving script, Troche was able to attract some of Hollywood's finest actors, one of them being Glenn Close. Although having an extremely busy year shooting in London and Australia, Close knew Troche's script was not something to let pass. The Safety of Objects is a very richly layered, complicated screenplay. And I think what I liked about this piece is that at the bottom of it, even though there may be some controversial things, it is basically a positive piece, rather than a negative one." Troche found with Close that she was constantly learning. "When working with Glenn I always thought to myself, I'm a better director because of working with her."
Close was attracted to the character of Esther Gold, a wife and mother whose tragedy began a year earlier when her son was in a car crash. Now nursing her comatose son at home, Esther isolates herself from her family, her emotions and her grief. "I like it when characters are multifaceted and don't always behave as we think they should. I think in many ways Esther's struggle is the most moving aspect of the movie and I think she does what she does at the end to save her family."
When it came to casting Jim Train, Troche knew that it had to be Dermot Mulroney. He was her first and only choice. Mulroney was drawn to the script for many reasons but he particularly liked how the different elements sparred with each other. "In the script the humor is played against more tragic scenes. This, I think, gives a wide array of emotional impact as well as being funny. I mean, it's a strange movie, and that's what I love about it." For Troche, she found that working with Mulroney was not only a rewarding experience, but that "he completely dedicated himself to this film in a way that I am just so appreciative of." Mulroney, who enjoyed the chance to play a more complex character, was fascinated by Jim Train, a lawyer defined by his job who, when passed over for a promotion, goes into crisis. "He is a man who hasn't yet crystallized into a complete person. But as the film progresses you see that happening. And I think by the end you get the sense that Jim Train will finally solidify himself within his family," says Mulroney.
The role of Annette Jennings, a woman going through a tough divorce while trying to raise two girls with little money, was a role that required an actor to be truly aware of the complexities of Annette's nature and the strengths hidden behind her vulnerabilities. After meeting Patricia Clarkson, Troche knew that she understood Annette and quickly cast her. "There was never any difference in the way the two of us saw Annette," recalls Troche. "Patty totally understood who this woman was and what she was going through how she has this tenacity and a toughness, even when she's falling apart." For Clarkson, Annette's will power and her constant striving was a large part of her appeal. "I found Annette funny and sexy," remarks Clarkson. "And I admired how, with all this adversity, she doesn't lose her sense of humor." Clarkson also admired how Troche depicted the families. "I think her depiction is quite realistic. It catches the intimate moments, the emotional moments, the funny moments and the raw moments," states Clarkson.
Another role where Troche had a very clear vision was for the character of Helen Christianson. "What can I say? We love Mary Kay Place. She's a cultural icon. I was thinking about Helen and I just thought it should be Mary Kay Place," says Troche. And for Mary Kay Place, Helen Christianson was a role she just had to have. " I read it and I thought 'well get the suitcase out.' There was no way I wasn't going to do this, cause it was just too good to pass up," says Place with a laugh. Helen Christianson, a wife and mother, who, after feeling stagnant, tries to bring about some changes in her life, was a role that attracted Place not only because of the character's humor but because of her optimism. "Helen really moved me. I found her funny and I empathized with her. I liked that she was making an honest effort to change her life instead of blaming everybody else or projecting things on other people. She was taking responsibility for it," says Place. "And yes she can be a little overbearing at times, and yes, she can go off the charts in her efforts, but so what, that's part of being a human."
When it came to casting the role of Randy, a young man deeply affected by tragedy, Troche loved Timothy Olyphant. "I saw Tim and there was a mixture of softness and hardness to him, a sort of sinister and sweetness to him and I just thought to myself 'WOW he'd make a really great Randy," recalls Troche. Olyphant, who always has his eye out for great writing, was attracted to the storyline of a man who looks for solace by abducting a child. "I found the whole relationship between Randy and Sam really intriguing," says Olyphant.
Being the only actor who has scenes with every character was also a selling point for Olyphant. "There is this incredible cast and I have scenes with every one of them. So to spend a day with each one was terrific," remarks Olyphant.
"What Rose has done is cast instinctively," says producer Dorothy Berwin. "The actors actually are the characters they are as close to their characters in real life as you could imagine. I think the casting is extraordinary, absolutely extraordinary." Rounding off the cast is Jessica Campbell as Julie Gold, Moira Kelly as Susan Train, Robert Klein as Howard Gold and Joshua Jackson as Paul Gold.
Weaving together this exceptional cast with a complex script, writer/director Rose Troche has created a darkly humorous tapestry a poignant drama that quietly asks, "What do you put your trust? What makes you feel safe?"
About the Cast
GLENN CLOSE is Esther Gold, wife of Howard and mother of Julie and Paul. Esther's continual and unrelenting care for her son who is at home in a coma, has isolated her from her family.
Having first establishing herself in theatre, Glenn Close, made her feature film debut as Jenny Fields in George Roy Hill's highly acclaimed The World According To Garp, for which she garnered her first Academy Award nomination. In quick succession, she received two Academy Award Best Supporting Actress nominations for her performance in Lawrence Kasdan's The Big Chill and Barry Levinson's The Natural. She then starred with Jeff Bridges as the attorney who falls in love with her client in Richard Marquand's acclaimed thriller Jagged Edge.
In 1987, Close starred opposite Michael Douglas in Adrian Lyne's Fatal Attraction, which earned her a fourth Academy Award nomination. The following year Close's performance as the Marquise de Merteuil in Stephen Frear's Dangerous Liaisons, co-starring John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer, gave her her fifth Oscar nomination.
Close has played opposite Mel Gibson in Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet, with Jeremy Irons in Reversal of Fortune and with Irons and Meryl Streep in The House of the Spirits. Close has also starred in The Stone Boy, Maxie, Immediate Family, Meeting Venus, The Paper, Steven Spielberg's Hook, Mary Reilly, Mars Attacks!, Paradise Road, Air Force One, Robert Altman's Cookie's Fortune, and Rodrigo Garcia's Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her.
Most recently, Close revisited her role of the delightfully wicked Cruella DeVil in the live action Disney film 102 Dalmatians, a sequel to the enormously successful 101 Dalmatians.
For television, Close won accolades and a 1984 Emmy nomination as Best Actress for her role in Randa Haines' highly acclaimed Something About Amelia. For her work in the title role of the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation Sarah, Plain and Tall, Close received an Emmy Award nomination for Best Actress as well a Golden Globe nomination. As the executive producer of Sarah she received both a Golden Globe and an Emmy nomination for Best Made-For-Television Movie. Close reprised her roles as actress and executive producer for the sequel to Sarah, titled Skylark, for which she received a second Emmy Award nomination for Best Actress. For the third part of the highly-acclaimed trilogy Sarah, Plain and Tall: Winter's End, Close was reunited with original cast member Chris Walken and original director Glenn Jordan. Close acted as an executive producer on and starred as Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer in, Serving in Silence. For her performance she won an Emmy Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. For her role in In The Gloaming, directed by Christopher Reeve, Close earned a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination and a Cable Ace Award. Most recently Close, executive produced and starred in the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic musical South Pacific, to air on ABC-TV next year. Directed by Richard Pearce, the musical also stars Harry Connick Jr. and Rade Sherbedgia.
Close's career began on stage in New York in 1974 when she appeared for a season with the Phoenix Repertory Company. She went on to appear extensively in regional theatre as well as productions on and off-Broadway. In 1980 she received her first Tony Award nomination for performance in the Broadway musical Barnum and four years later she won her first Tony playing opposite Jeremy Irons in Tom Stoppard's play The Real Thing. Her performance in Mike Nichols' production of the political drama Death And The Maiden in which she co-starred with Richard Dreyfuss and Gene Hackman, earned her a second Tony Award. Close went on to gain more critical acclaim for her stunning portrayal of Norma Desmond, first in the American premiere and then on Broadway, in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical hit Sunset Boulevard. For her performance she received an Outstanding Performance Award from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, a Drama-Logue Award for Lead Actress and her third Tony Award.
In the recording field, Close narrated the animated videos of The Emperor And The Nightingale and The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, for Rabbit Ears Productions. Both were nominated for Grammys, as was the recording from the Broadway drama The Real Thing.
DERMOT MULRONEY is Jim Train, husband to Susan, and father to Jake and Emily. He is a workaholic lawyer who becomes disillusioned with his job and searches for meaning to his life at the local mall.
His film credits include P.J. Hogan's My Best Friend's Wedding, with Julia Roberts, Roland Joffe's Goodbye Lover, with Patricia Arquette and Ellen DeGeneres, Where The Money Is, opposite Paul Newman and Linda Fiorentino, Alan Rudolph's Trixie, opposite Emily Watson and Brittany Murphy. Recently, he has finished shooting Investigating Sex in Berlin, his second film with Alan Rudolph and Alexander Payne's new feature film About Schmidt, starring Jack Nicholson.
Mulroney's other film credits include Trigger Effect, with Elisabeth Shue, Kansas City, with Jennifer Jason Leigh, Copy Cat, opposite Holly Hunter and Sigourney Weaver, and How To Make An American Quilt, with Winona Ryder, Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn, Kate Capshaw and Alfre Woodard. He also starred in Tom DiCillo's Living in Oblivion, opposite Steve Buscemi and Catherine Keener, about the absurd adventures of independent filmmaking. This Sundance Film Festival and Berlin Film Festival winner was also co-produced by Mulroney.
His critically acclaimed performances include his role as 'John Deacon' in Norman Rene's Longtime Companion, and 'King' in Marc Rocco's Where The Day Takes You. He also drew attention as a talented heartthrob in Samantha with Martha Plimpton, Staying Together with Stockard Channing, The Thing Called Love with River Phoenix and Sandra Bullock, and Silent Tongue, co-starring River Phoenix and Sam Shepard. Mulroney has played the lone hero opposite such strong women as Bridget Fonda in Point Of No Return and Andie MacDowell, Madeline Stowe and Drew Barrymore in Bad Girls to the smoldering cowboy in Young Guns and The Last Outlaws. One of his first starring roles was in Blake Edwards' comedy Sunset, and he later played an amateur crook in another comedy, Career Opportunities, this time opposite Kieran Mulroney.
Mulroney earned an ACE nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his in the television movie Long Gone. His other television work includes the four-hour drama Family Pictures, with Anjelica Huston, The Heart Of Justice, Daddy, Sin Of Innocence, and Unconquered, where he starred as football and track star Richard Flowers.
Actress PATRICIA CLARKSON stars as Annette Jennings, the divorced wife of Bruce and mother of Sam and Rayanne. In her life she has loved and lost not once, but twice.
Clarkson has starred in such feature films as the box office hit The Green Mile, with Tom Hanks and as Greta in art film smash High Art, for which she received an Independent Spirit Award nomination and was named runner-up for the National Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress. She can also be seen in the upcoming The Baroness and The Pig. Her other film credits include The Pledge, directed by Sean Penn, Joe Gould's Secret, directed by Stanley Tucci, Simply Irresistible, Pharaoh's Army, Jumanji, The Dead Pool, Rocket Gibraltar, Tune in Tomorrow.
Making her professional acting debut in the on-and off Broadway production of Eastern Standard, Clarkson went on to appear in such critically acclaimed theatre productions as Nicky Silver's Raised in Captivity and The Maiden's Prayer as well as The Manhattan Theatre Club's presentations of Wolfman, Oliver, Oliver, and Three Days of Rain. She also co-starred in John Guare's Tony-winning House of Blue Leaves at The Lincoln Center, where she had to leave her role of the deaf movie star to make her film debut as Kevin Costner's wife in Brian DePalma's gangster epic The Untouchables.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Clarkson was acting in school plays in her early teens. She graduated summa cum laude with a degree in theatre arts from Fordham University in New York and went on to earn a master of fine art from Yale School of Drama.
Starring as Susan Train, wife of Jim and mother to Jake and Emily, MOIRA KELLY made her feature film debut in The Boy Who Cried Bitch and went on to star in Billy Bathgate, opposite Dustin Hoffman, The Cutting Edge, opposite D.B. Sweeney, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, directed by David Lynch, Chaplin, with Robert Downey, Jr., directed by Sir Richard Attenborough, and With Honors, opposite Joe Pesci and Brendan Fraser. Most recently she can be seen in Unhook The Stars, with Gena Rowlands and Marisa Tomei and Dangerous Beauty with Katherine McCormack and Rufus Sewell.
Kelly's television credits included the recurring role of Madeline Hampton on the Emmy Award winning "The West Wing" and she also starred in the romantic drama series "To Have and To Hold." She has appeared in such television movies as Love, Lies and Murder, Daybreak with Cuba Gooding Jr. as well as Monday After The Miracle, for which she received critical accolades for her performance as Helen Keller.
Actor TIMOTHY OLYPHANT is Randy, best friend to Paul Gold and gardener to the neighborhood.
Olyphant will soon be seen in Rock Star, opposite Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston. Olyphant plays the best friend of Wahlberg's character and together they play in a 1980's heavy metal band.
Receiving great notice as 'Todd Gaines' in Doug Liman's feature film Go, Olyphant has also starred in Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy, with John Mahoney and Dean Cain and appeared in Gone In 60 Seconds, with Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie, Scream 2, with Neve Campbell, A Life Less Ordinary, with Cameron Diaz and Ewan McGregor, and The First Wives Club with Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton, and 1999.
On television, Olyphant appeared in the television movie When Trumpets Fade, directed by John Irvin and the critically acclaimed dramas High Incident and Ellen Foster, starring Julie Harris. Olyphant made his television debut with the series "77 Sunset Strip."
Olyphant got his start in theatre in New York City. He received the World Theater Award for Outstanding Debut Performance for his role as Tim Hapgood in the Playwright Horizon's The Monogamist, written by Christopher Kyle. He went on to star in David Sedaris' one-man production, Santaland Diaries at the Atlantic Theater, and he recently returned to the Playwright Horizon to star in Plunge, also written by Christopher Kyle.
Born in Hawaii and raised in California, Olyphant attended USC where he studied fine arts and performance arts.
A veteran in the film and television industry, MARY KAY PLACE stars as Helen Christianson the wife of Wayne and mother of Robert and Sally,
Place has starred in over twenty-five feature films and in over twenty miniseries and television movies. She currently has four feature films upcoming, they include Michel Gondry's Human Nature, written by Charlie Kaufman who previously wrote Being John Malkovich, My First Mister, with Albert Brooks and John Goodman, A Woman's A Helluva Thing, directed by Karen Leigh Hopkins, who previously penned Stepmom, and Nailed with Harvey Keitel.
Her other credits include such highly acclaimed films as James Mangold's Girl Interrupted, Spike Jonze's Being John Malkovich, John Waters' Pecker, How To Make The Cruelest Month, Francis Ford Coppola's Rainmaker, Manny and Lo, Citizen Ruth, with Laura Dern and Swoozie Kurtz, Lawrence Kasdan's The Big Chill, Smooth Talk, Private Benjamin with Goldie Hawn, and Martin Scorsese's New York, New York.
A renowned comedic actress Place has also starred in such comedies as Captain Ron, Starting Over, Samantha, A New Life, Modern Problems, Waltz Across Texas, and More American Graffiti.
On the small screen Place has starred in numerous television movies such as Armistad Maupin's Further Tales Of The City, Point Last Seen, No Further Questions, Love In Another Town, My Very Best Friend, Just My Imagination, Out On The Edge, The Girl Who Spelled Freedom, Act Of Love, and the Emmy Award-winning Mom's On Strike.
Place won an Emmy Award for her portrayal of Loretta Haggers in the comedic cult classic television series "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" and also had a recurring role on the teenaged angst-filled series "My So-Called Life," that starred Claire Danes and Jared Leto. She also starred in the "Cinemax Comedy Episodes of The History of White People In America" for which she received an Ace Award nomination for Best Actress, and she made guest appearances on "Chicago Hope" and "King of The Hill."
Mary Kay Place has written episodes of “M*A*S*H” and has also entered the realm of directing, having relocated behind the camera for episodes of "Dream On," "Friends," and "Arliss" among others.
About the Filmmaker
Writer, director, co-producer and co-editor ROSE TROCHE made her directorial debut with the highly acclaimed feature film Go Fish. Executive produced by Christine Vachon and Tom Kalin distributed internationally by Samuel Goldwyn Films, this film was presented at over twenty film festivals, where it took home awards at The Berlin International Film Festival, The Cork Film Festival, and The Rimmini Film Festival. Go Fish was also awarded the IFP Gotham Award as well as the prestigious GLAAD Media Award.
Troche most recently directed Bedrooms and Hallways, a comedy starring Kevin McKidd (Trainspotting, Topsy-Turvy), Hugo Weaving (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, The Matrix) and Simon Callow (Four Weddings and a Funeral) and was produced by Dorothy Berwin and Ceci Dempsey. Bedrooms And Hallways screened at such festivals as The Toronto International Film Festival, The Edinburgh Film Festival, and The Cork Film Festival as well as numerous U.S. film festivals. The film also won the Audience Award at the London Film Festival and was theatrically released in the U.S. in 1998.
Currently Troche is writing her fourth feature film, Lucinda's Changed.