The Player


2h 3m 1992
The Player

Brief Synopsis

A rising producer tries to cover up the accidental killing of a screenwriter who was stalking him.

Film Details

Also Known As
Player
MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Crime
Mystery
Thriller
Satire
Release Date
1992
Distribution Company
ALLIANCE RELEASING/FINE LINE FEATURES
Location
Mexico; Two Bunch Palms, California, USA; Los Angeles, California, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 3m

Synopsis

A frustrated screenwriter menaces a studio executive who eventually kills the writer and gets away with murder.

Cast

Tim Robbins

Griffin Mill

Greta Scacchi

June Gudmundsdottir

Fred Ward

Walter Stuckel

Rod Steiger

Himself

Randall Batinkoff

Lyle Lovett

Whoopi Goldberg

Sally Kellerman

Herself

Marvin Young

Himself

Richard Anderson

Himself

Scott Glenn

Himself

Stephen M. Tolkin

Peter Falk

Himself

Jeff Weston

Susan Emshwiller

Sally Kirkland

Herself

Gary Busey

Himself

Leeza Gibbons

Herself

Buck Henry

Himself

Dennis Franz

Himself

Kathy Ireland

Herself

Karen Black

Herself

Bert Remsen

Himself

Susan Sarandon

Herself

Michael Bowen

Himself

Natalie Strong

Alexandra Powers

Herself

Julia Roberts

Herself

Mimi Rogers

Herself

Terry Garr

Herself

Mike E Kaplan

Kurt Newman

Performer

Bruce Willis

Himself

Brad Davis

Himself

Malcolm Mcdowell

Himself

Dina Merrill

Charles Champlin

Himself

Dean Stockwell

Brion James

Cathy Lee Crosby

Herself

Gina Gershon

Paul Hewitt

Burt Reynolds

Himself

Andie Macdowell

Herself

Harry Belafonte

Himself

Cynthia Stevenson

Jennifer Nash

Herself

Vincent D'onofrio

Jayne Meadows

Herself

Rene Auberjonois

Himself

Lily Tomlin

Herself

Peter Gallagher

Marlee Matlin

Herself

Jack Riley

Himself

Jill St. John

Herself

Kevin Scannell

Paul Dooley

Himself

John Cusack

Himself

Frank Barhydt

Pamela Bowen

Leah Ayres

Thereza Ellis

Herself

Guy Remsen

Himself

Ray Walston

Himself

Richard E. Grant

Felicia Farr

Herself

Jack Lemmon

Himself

Steve Allen

Himself

Elliott Gould

Himself

Robert Carradine

Himself

Peter Borck

Lead Person

Margery Bond

Adam Simon

Himself

Steve James

Himself

Shari Belafonte

Herself

Sydney Pollack

David Alan Grier

Himself

Joel Grey

Himself

Robert Wagner

Himself

Martin Mull

Himself

James Coburn

Himself

Nick Nolte

Himself

Pete Koch

Cher

Herself

Annie Ross

Herself

Brian Tochi

Himself

Alan Rudolph

Himself

Michael Tolkin

Anjelica Huston

Herself

Maxine John-james

Herself

Jeff Goldblum

Himself

Patricia Resnick

Herself

Louise Fletcher

Herself

Brian Brophy

Joan Tewkesbury

Herself

Jeremy Piven

Angela Hall

Kasia Figura

Herself

Crew

Steve Allen

Other

Matthew Altman

On-Set Dresser

Stephen Altman

Production Designer

Richard Anderson

Other

Christopher Armstrong

Driver

Rene Auberjonois

Other

Alison Balian

Assistant

C C Barnes

Assistant Director

John Beauvais

Other

Harry Belafonte

Other

Shari Belafonte

Other

Bill Bernstein

Music Editor

Andrea Berty

Craft Service

Angela Billows

Wardrobe Assistant

Karen Black

Other

Angela Bonner

Production Assistant

Michael Bowen

Other

Paul Boydston

Assistant Location Manager

Charles Bragg

Titles

Vicki Brinkkord

Wardrobe Assistant

Jim Brockett

Animal Trainer

Cary Brokaw

Executive Producer

David Brown

Producer

John Brown

Production Assistant

Robert Bruce

Electrician

John Bucklin

On-Set Dresser

Ken Burton

Sound Effects Editor

Gary Busey

Other

Scott Bushnell

Coproducer

Thomas Calloway

Carpenter

Robert Carradine

Other

Charles Champlin

Other

Betsy Chasse

Assistant Production Coordinator

Cher

Other

Jim Chesney

Production Supervisor

Ron Chesney

Driver

James Coburn

Other

Stacy Cohen

Other

Celia Converse

Other

Sydney Cooper

Art Department

Loren Corney

Construction Coordinator

Signe Corriere

Production Assistant

Cathy Lee Crosby

Other

John Cusack

Other

Brad Davis

Other

Andrew J. Day

Best Boy

Steve Day

Production Assistant

Val Desalvo

Electrician

Robert Deschane

Foley Mixer

Paul Dooley

Other

Steve Earle

Driver

Thereza Ellis

Other

Susan Emshwiller

Other

John Evans

Carpenter

Kevin Fahey

Grip

Michael J. Fahey

Dolly Grip

Peter Falk

Other

Felicia Farr

Other

Don Feeney

Driver

Kasia Figura

Other

Craig Finetti

Assistant Camera Operator

Jerry Fleming

Art Director

Louise Fletcher

Other

Dennis Franz

Other

Kenneth Funk

Carpenter

D J Gardiner

Driver

Terry Garr

Other

Judy Geletko

Accountant

Leeza Gibbons

Other

William S. Gilmore Jr.

Co-Executive Producer

Scott Glenn

Other

Jeff Goldblum

Other

Rich Gooch

Other

Elliott Gould

Other

Joel Grey

Other

David Alan Grier

Other

Michele Guastello

Art Department Coordinator

Robin Hage

Assistant

Alisa Hale

Assistant Editor

Sheri Halfon

Other

Bob Hart

Negative Cutting

John Hartigan

Special Effects

Buck Henry

Other

Julie Heuer

Assistant Property Master

Cynthia Hill

Production Coordinator

Scott Hollander

Grip

Joseph Holsen

Dialogue Editor

Paul Holtzborn

Foley Artist

Les Hooper

Song

Kelly Householder

Production Assistant

Maysie Hoy

Editor

Anjelica Huston

Other

Matthew Iadarola

Sound Re-Recording Mixer

Kathy Ireland

Other

Steve James

Other

David Jobe

Foley Recordist

Maxine John-james

Other

Alexander Julian

Costumes

Lawrence Karman

Video

Stanley Kastner

Sound Re-Recording Mixer

Sally Kellerman

Other

Sally Kirkland

Other

Jack Kney

Location Manager

Danielle Knight

Assistant

Justin Kritzer

Carpenter

Cheryl Kurk

Accounting Assistant

Edmund J Lachmann

Dialogue Editor

Deborah Larsen

Makeup Artist

Darryl Lee

Carpenter

Jack Lemmon

Other

Jean Lepine

Other

Jean Lepine

Director Of Photography

David Levy

Associate Producer

Andie Macdowell

Other

Michael Mark

Music

Chris Marneus

Carpenter

Anthony T. Marra Ii

Key Grip

Marlee Matlin

Other

Pat Maurer

Foreman

Stuart Mccauley

Craft Service

Malcolm Mcdowell

Other

Tom Mcgrath

Electrician

Cary Mckrystal

Assistant Camera Operator

James Mclindon

Assistant

Jayne Meadows

Other

James Monroe

Property Master

Thomas L Moore

Medic

Don Muchow

Gaffer

Martin Mull

Other

Gerry Mulligan

Song

Milton Nascimiento

Song Performer

Jennifer Nash

Other

Tim Nash

Grip

Kurt Newman

Music

Thomas Newman

Music

Allan Nicholls

Assistant Director

Nick Nolte

Other

A. Michelle Page

Assistant Editor

Thomas Pasatieri

Music Arranger

Mario Perez

Swing Gang

Geraldine Peroni

Editor

Dan Perri

Titles

John Post

Foley Artist

Alexandra Powers

Other

John Patrick Pritchett

Sound Mixer

Derek Raser

Transportation Coordinator

Michael Redbourn

Sound Editor

Chris Reddish

Electrician

Bert Remsen

Other

Guy Remsen

Other

Patricia Resnick

Other

Burt Reynolds

Other

Richard Riggs

Other

Jack Riley

Other

Julia Roberts

Other

Mimi Rogers

Other

David Ronan

On-Set Dresser

Annie Ross

Other

Daniel Rothenberg

Swing Gang

Alan Rudolph

Other

Jim Samson

On-Set Dresser

Susan Sarandon

Other

Lorey Sebastian

Photography

Kimberly Edwards Shapiro

Production Accountant

Joel Shryack

Boom Operator

Adam Simon

Other

Emily Smith-baker

Other

Jill St. John

Other

Mike Stanwick

Color Timer

Carole Starkes

Script Supervisor

Rod Steiger

Other

Wayne Stroud

Dolly Grip

Lydia Tanji

Wardrobe Supervisor

Joan Tewkesbury

Other

Thayer

Other

Dylan Tichenor

Apprentice

Brian Tochi

Other

Michael Tolkin

Source Material (From Novel)

Michael Tolkin

Producer

Michael Tolkin

Screenplay

Lily Tomlin

Other

Tom Udell

Unit Production Manager

Andrew Varela

Other

John Vigran

Music

Robert Wagner

Other

Greg Walker

Stunt Coordinator

Ray Walston

Other

Bill Ward

Assistant Sound Editor

Catherine Webb

Post-Production Accountant

Nick Wechsler

Producer

Scott Williams

Hair

Bruce Willis

Other

Gregory Willis

Driver

Marvin Young

Other

Videos

Movie Clip

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
Player
MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Crime
Mystery
Thriller
Satire
Release Date
1992
Distribution Company
ALLIANCE RELEASING/FINE LINE FEATURES
Location
Mexico; Two Bunch Palms, California, USA; Los Angeles, California, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 3m

Award Nominations

Best Adapted Screenplay

1992

Best Director

1992

Best Editing

1992
Geraldine Peroni

Articles

The Player -


More than a decade after Popeye (1980), a big-budget film that was branded a flop by Hollywood despite turning a substantial profit, and after years "in the wilderness" directing stage plays, small independent films, and cable productions, iconoclastic filmmaker Robert Altman made a triumphant comeback with The Player. It was a sly, self-aware thriller set in the world of Hollywood studio filmmaking and a wry show business satire with an enormous supporting cast of major movie stars playing (and at times parodying) themselves, and it was embraced by audiences and critics alike.

In retrospect it seems like a perfect match between director and material, the great anti-Hollywood filmmaker ("they sell shoes and I make gloves," was Altman's famous description of working within the system) directing a savage satire of the whole culture of modern moviemaking, but he was not the first choice. Producer David Brown had optioned the novel by Michael Tolkin, a screenwriter in his own right who channeled his frustrations of how the system kills the creative spirit into a story where a studio executive literally murders a writer, and sent Tolkin's script around. As directors passed or priced themselves out of contention it was eventually passed to Altman, who was busy trying to get his dream project, an adaptation of Raymond Carver stories with the working title "L.A. Short Cuts," off the ground. Altman had commitments from a number of actors but couldn't raise the financing so he took it on. "I was a director for hire. I needed the job; I saw it as an easy shoot. I kinda like the idea of it, so I did it."

Altman cast Tim Robbins, who had signed on to his Carver film, in the lead as Griffin Mill, an ambitious studio executive in the middle of a power struggle when he starts receiving threatening postcards (and worse) from an anonymous screenwriter. It was Altman's idea to ground the film in the real Hollywood by populating it with real-life stars, writers, and directors in cameos and bit parts, like he had with Elliot Gould and Julie Christie in Nashville but on a much bigger scale. Against these star cameos would be the fictional characters of the story, played (for the most part) by rising talents who had not yet become major celebrities. For these leading roles he cast Peter Gallagher (as Griffin's rival), Fred Ward (the studio's swaggering head of security), Cynthia Stevenson, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Greta Scacchi, plus Whoopi Goldberg and singer Lyle Lovett (in his first screen role) as police detectives and Dean Stockwell and Richard E. Grant as filmmakers pitching a "serious" project to Griffin.

For the cameos, he reached out to the actors who had committed to his Carver film then expanded the list, contacting anyone he thought might be game for showing up for a day or two at scale. As the word got out, more and more Hollywood veterans agreed to appear, some even approaching Altman themselves. "It became a thing to do," remembers assistant producer David Levy. 65 stars and Hollywood veterans ultimately appearing in the finished film, from Steve Allen and Harry Belafonte and Cher to Burt Reynolds and Julia Roberts and Bruce Willis, all of them donating their salaries to the Motion Picture Home. Their parts were almost entirely improvised, including the pitches that writers Buck Henry, Alan Rudolph, and Joan Tewkesbury deliver in the opening shot of the picture, an impressive, elaborate long take that references Orson Welles' Touch of Evil yet is quintessentially Altman as it peaks through windows, eavesdrops on conversations, and observes the film studio culture.

In fact, Altman improvised most of the dialogue throughout the film, much to the frustration of Tolkin, who complained that he didn't recognize any of the lines when he watched the dailies (screenings of the footage shot each day). It was standard working procedure for Altman. "A script to me is just a tool, just a reminder as to what kind of picture you've decided to make," he explained to David Thompson. "I feel it's my obligation to try and take the elements that have been gathered together--actors, the props and the weather--and do something like the scene in the script. But I don't try to make the script; I try to make the film knowing that I have the script as a platform, something to fall back on." For such a sprawling canvas, Altman directs with a clarity and wit that recalls his seventies masterpieces, and he brings the satirical sensibility of a veteran who's been through the Hollywood ringer and come out alive. "What we show in The Player is very, very soft indictment of Hollywood, an unrealistic look at that arena," insists Altman. "Hollywood is much crueler and uglier and more calculating than you see in the film." In fact, for all the cynicism and politics of the portrait, he creates a lively, bustling film with likable, compelling characters and interesting scenes of negotiations, power plays, and subterfuge.

The film became the talk of Hollywood and earned Best Director and Best Actor (for Tim Robbins) awards at the Cannes Film Festival in 1992. It was nominated for three Academy Awards, won two Golden Globes, and topped Best of the Year polls and film critics' awards. It was hailed as Altman's comeback (though he insists he never went anywhere) and its success gave new life to his Carver project, which became Short Cuts and featured many of the actors from The Player.

For all his frustrations with the liberties that Altman took with his script, Tolkin credits him for the film's success. "I can look back and say that he changed my life," he confessed. "The Player as it is, as a cultural object, exists because of Altman and what he brought to it."

Sources:
Altman on Altman, ed. David Thompson. Faber and Faber, 2006.
Robert Altman: The Oral Biography, Mitchell Zuckoff. Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.
Audio commentary for The Player by Robert Altman, Michael Tolkin, and Jean Lépine. Criterion, 1992.
IMDb

By Sean Axmaker
The Player -

The Player -

More than a decade after Popeye (1980), a big-budget film that was branded a flop by Hollywood despite turning a substantial profit, and after years "in the wilderness" directing stage plays, small independent films, and cable productions, iconoclastic filmmaker Robert Altman made a triumphant comeback with The Player. It was a sly, self-aware thriller set in the world of Hollywood studio filmmaking and a wry show business satire with an enormous supporting cast of major movie stars playing (and at times parodying) themselves, and it was embraced by audiences and critics alike. In retrospect it seems like a perfect match between director and material, the great anti-Hollywood filmmaker ("they sell shoes and I make gloves," was Altman's famous description of working within the system) directing a savage satire of the whole culture of modern moviemaking, but he was not the first choice. Producer David Brown had optioned the novel by Michael Tolkin, a screenwriter in his own right who channeled his frustrations of how the system kills the creative spirit into a story where a studio executive literally murders a writer, and sent Tolkin's script around. As directors passed or priced themselves out of contention it was eventually passed to Altman, who was busy trying to get his dream project, an adaptation of Raymond Carver stories with the working title "L.A. Short Cuts," off the ground. Altman had commitments from a number of actors but couldn't raise the financing so he took it on. "I was a director for hire. I needed the job; I saw it as an easy shoot. I kinda like the idea of it, so I did it." Altman cast Tim Robbins, who had signed on to his Carver film, in the lead as Griffin Mill, an ambitious studio executive in the middle of a power struggle when he starts receiving threatening postcards (and worse) from an anonymous screenwriter. It was Altman's idea to ground the film in the real Hollywood by populating it with real-life stars, writers, and directors in cameos and bit parts, like he had with Elliot Gould and Julie Christie in Nashville but on a much bigger scale. Against these star cameos would be the fictional characters of the story, played (for the most part) by rising talents who had not yet become major celebrities. For these leading roles he cast Peter Gallagher (as Griffin's rival), Fred Ward (the studio's swaggering head of security), Cynthia Stevenson, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Greta Scacchi, plus Whoopi Goldberg and singer Lyle Lovett (in his first screen role) as police detectives and Dean Stockwell and Richard E. Grant as filmmakers pitching a "serious" project to Griffin. For the cameos, he reached out to the actors who had committed to his Carver film then expanded the list, contacting anyone he thought might be game for showing up for a day or two at scale. As the word got out, more and more Hollywood veterans agreed to appear, some even approaching Altman themselves. "It became a thing to do," remembers assistant producer David Levy. 65 stars and Hollywood veterans ultimately appearing in the finished film, from Steve Allen and Harry Belafonte and Cher to Burt Reynolds and Julia Roberts and Bruce Willis, all of them donating their salaries to the Motion Picture Home. Their parts were almost entirely improvised, including the pitches that writers Buck Henry, Alan Rudolph, and Joan Tewkesbury deliver in the opening shot of the picture, an impressive, elaborate long take that references Orson Welles' Touch of Evil yet is quintessentially Altman as it peaks through windows, eavesdrops on conversations, and observes the film studio culture. In fact, Altman improvised most of the dialogue throughout the film, much to the frustration of Tolkin, who complained that he didn't recognize any of the lines when he watched the dailies (screenings of the footage shot each day). It was standard working procedure for Altman. "A script to me is just a tool, just a reminder as to what kind of picture you've decided to make," he explained to David Thompson. "I feel it's my obligation to try and take the elements that have been gathered together--actors, the props and the weather--and do something like the scene in the script. But I don't try to make the script; I try to make the film knowing that I have the script as a platform, something to fall back on." For such a sprawling canvas, Altman directs with a clarity and wit that recalls his seventies masterpieces, and he brings the satirical sensibility of a veteran who's been through the Hollywood ringer and come out alive. "What we show in The Player is very, very soft indictment of Hollywood, an unrealistic look at that arena," insists Altman. "Hollywood is much crueler and uglier and more calculating than you see in the film." In fact, for all the cynicism and politics of the portrait, he creates a lively, bustling film with likable, compelling characters and interesting scenes of negotiations, power plays, and subterfuge. The film became the talk of Hollywood and earned Best Director and Best Actor (for Tim Robbins) awards at the Cannes Film Festival in 1992. It was nominated for three Academy Awards, won two Golden Globes, and topped Best of the Year polls and film critics' awards. It was hailed as Altman's comeback (though he insists he never went anywhere) and its success gave new life to his Carver project, which became Short Cuts and featured many of the actors from The Player. For all his frustrations with the liberties that Altman took with his script, Tolkin credits him for the film's success. "I can look back and say that he changed my life," he confessed. "The Player as it is, as a cultural object, exists because of Altman and what he brought to it." Sources: Altman on Altman, ed. David Thompson. Faber and Faber, 2006. Robert Altman: The Oral Biography, Mitchell Zuckoff. Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. Audio commentary for The Player by Robert Altman, Michael Tolkin, and Jean Lépine. Criterion, 1992. IMDb By Sean Axmaker

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Robert Altman was nominated for the Directors Guild of America's 1992 Outstanding Directorial Achievement Award.

Voted Best Picture of the Year (1992) by the New York Film Critics Circle. Also cited for Best Director and Best Cinematography.

Released in United States Spring April 10, 1992

Released in United States on Video March 31, 1993

Released in United States 1992

Released in United States April 3, 1992

Released in United States September 1992

Released in United States September 1996

Shown at San Francisco Film Festival (opening film) April 23 - May 7, 1992.

Shown at Cleveland International Film Festival (opening film) April 3, 1992.

Shown at San Sebastian Film Festival (out of competition) September 17-27, 1992.

Won BAFTA awards for best director and best adapted screenplay.

Robert Altman was named best director by the Boston Society of Film Critics (1992).

Robert Altman was named best director of the year (1992) by the London Film Critics Circle. Michael Tolkin was also named best screenwriter.

Began shooting June 16, 1991.

Completed shooting August 9, 1991.

Whoopi Goldberg was honored as female star of the year (1992) by NATO/Showest.

Release expanded in USA April 24, 1992.

Release expanded in USA May 1 and 8, 1992.

Ultra-Stereo

Released in United States Spring April 10, 1992

Released in United States on Video March 31, 1993

Released in United States 1992 (Shown at San Francisco Film Festival (opening film) April 23 - May 7, 1992.)

Released in United States April 3, 1992 (Shown at Cleveland International Film Festival (opening film) April 3, 1992.)

Released in United States September 1992 (Shown at San Sebastian Film Festival (out of competition) September 17-27, 1992.)

Released in United States September 1996 (Shown in New York City (Anthology Film Archives) as part of program "Best of the Indies" September 5-15, 1996.)

Michael Tolkin won the best adapted screenplay award from the Writers Guild of America (1992).