Cast & Crew
On one of the coldest days in Los Angeles' history, a light snowfall precipitates a car accident between Latina LAPD detective Ria and a Korean woman, Kim Lee, after which Ria's black partner, Det. Graham Waters, states his belief that Los Angeles is so devoid of any sense of touch between human beings, people crash into each other just to feel something. As the two women exchange heated racial slurs, Graham turns to the crime scene before them, where his team is investigating the death of an unidentified black man. Spotting the body, Graham freezes. The previous day, Dorri, a Persian woman, is helping her father Farhad to purchase a handgun when the store owner lashes out at them, calling Farhad "Osama" and ordering him out of the store. As a furious Dorri points to a box of bullets and demands them as part of their purchase, on the Westside, a young black man, Anthony, comments to his friend Peter that everyone in the affluent neighborhood, both black and white, seems to stereotype them. When white District Attorney Rick Cabot walks by, his wife Jean takes his arm, causing Anthony to complain that she is instinctively afraid of them, after which the two men pull out guns and hijack Rick and Jean's Lincoln Navigator. Driving away, Peter places a St. Christopher statuette on the dashboard, despite Anthony's disdain. Across town, Graham and Ria arrive at the scene of a shooting by off-duty policeman Det. Conklin. Conklin, who is white, states he shot the victim, a black man, in self-defense, but when Graham and Ria search the dead man's car, they discover that he is another off-duty policeman, named Lewis. Back at the Cabots' house, Jean loudly demands that Rick fire the Latino locksmith, Daniel, assuming that his copious tattoos mark him as a gang member who will return to rob them. When Rick tries to placate her, Jean shouts angrily that it was only the fear of appearing racist that kept her from running from the black men upon spotting them. Later, Rick discusses with his aides how to spin the carjacking without appearing intolerant and losing "the black vote," suggesting that he be photographed pinning a medal on a black man. In a diner in the San Fernando Valley, Officer Ryan calls his HMO representative, Shaniqua Johnson, and, finding her unresponsive to his complaint about his seriously ill father's treatment, makes a racial comment about her name. Outside, Ryan and his rookie partner, Tommy Hanson, hear about the carjacking and pull over a similar Navigator, despite Tommy's protestations that it cannot be the right car. Inside are Cameron, a black television director, and his wife Christine, who is performing oral sex on her husband. Although the wealthy couple lives in the area and swear that Cam does not drink, Ryan pulls him out to take a drunk driving test, inciting Christine's rage. Ryan then orders them both to stand against the car, and in response to Christine's hostility, fondles her between her legs as he "searches" for weapons. Cam, forced to watch, pleads for clemency in order to avoid being arrested, and finally Ryan allows them to go. When the couple return to their home, frightened and ashamed, Christine berates Cam for his "shuck and jive" and the two trade accusations that the other is not authentically "black." At the same time, Daniel returns home to discover his five-year-old daughter Lara hiding under the bed, haunted by the memory of gang violence in their old neighborhood. By convincing her that he is bequeathing to her a magic, invisible cloak that protects against bullets, Daniel helps his daughter to sleep without fear. On the east side, Anthony and Peter are driving the Navigator to their fence and discussing how rap music oppresses black men when they accidentally hit Kim Lee's husband as he is getting into his van. The man becomes stuck under the car and is dragged for yards, and although Anthony wants to drive off, Peter convinces him to free the man and drop him at the hospital. They then go to the fence, Lucien, who informs them the Navigator is now valueless because of the Korean man's bloodstains. Tommy, meanwhile, has requested a transfer away from Ryan, but his superior, Dixon, a black lieutenant, explains caustically that such a report will endanger his own position by exposing that he has allowed an obvious bigot to work under him, and insists that Tommy claim he is requesting a one-man car due to his uncontrollable flatulence. At his store, Farhad calls in Daniel to fix his broken lock, and upon learning that the door will have to be replaced, assumes Daniel is trying to cheat him. The two argue, after which Daniel storms out without pay. Later that night, Graham and Ria are making love when Graham's mother calls, and when he jokingly informs her he is with a white woman, Ria grows incensed. A half-Puerto Rican, half-El Salvadorian, Ria is further angered when Graham refers to her as Mexican, and accuses him of keeping her at an emotional distance. Across the city, Ryan awakens to hear his father struggling in the bathroom, in pain. Morning dawns, and while Anthony tells Peter that he would never steal from his own people, Cam goes to his studio, where the white star mortifies him by ordering him to tell an actor to sound "more black." At the same time, Ryan goes to Shaniqua's office to apologize, but when she repeats that his father cannot get treated for prostate cancer when his doctor has diagnosed a urinary tract infection, Ryan states, "I can't look at you without thinking about the more qualified white men who didn't get this job." He goes on to plead for his father, a small-business owner who employed people of color but then lost his business to minority contracts, but Shaniqua is too insulted and frustrated to back down. Meanwhile, Farhad enters his store to find it ransacked, with graffiti on the walls that lambastes his family as Arabs. The insurance adjuster sadly informs the family that the company will not cover the damages because Daniel had warned them to fix the door. As Farhad, now bankrupt, walks out calmly, Graham visits his mother, a drug addict in a stupor, and agrees to her repeated appeals to find his missing brother. Christine visits Cam at work, but they merely reprise their argument and he stalks off, leaving her in tears. At the police station, Tommy has been reassigned, and Ryan warns the younger man threateningly that after a few more years on the job, he, too, will lose his idealism. Ryan is called to the scene of a car accident and races to the overturned SUV to free the trapped woman inside, not knowing it is Christine. Realizing that she is in immediate danger from the nearby fire spreading toward a fuel spill, he speaks to her kindly, but when she recognizes him, she screams and tries to evade him. Shocked by her fear, Ryan insists that he will not hurt her, and although terrified, she is forced to accept his proximity in the intimate interior of the car as he works to free her. Just as he is able to cut her loose, the car catches fire. Ryan's partner pulls him from the car, but Ryan fights him off to return to the car to pull Christine out. As the car explodes, she collapses into Ryan's arms, sobbing. At city hall, Rick's consultant, Jake Flanagan, calls in Graham to collude to prosecute Conklin, who had previously shot two other black men. When Graham informs him that $300,000 in cash has been found hidden in a spare tire in Lewis' car, Flanagan, preferring to prosecute the white man in order to keep Rick from appearing racist, tries to hold onto the idea that Lewis is an innocent victim. When Graham opposes him, Flanagan first maligns black people in general, then presents the detective with an arrest warrant for his brother. Understanding that if he agrees to frame Conklin, the warrant will disappear, Graham reluctantly accepts the bargain. Meanwhile, Anthony and Peter attempt to carjack Cam's Navigator, an act that pushes Cam over the edge. As he explodes in rage, Anthony, although horrified to see that his victim is black, calls to Peter to shoot him. Just then, Tommy drives by in his police car, and as Peter flees, Anthony and Cam jump into the Navigator and Cam drives away with Tommy in pursuit. Cam wrests the gun from Anthony's hand and is chased by Tommy and another police car to a suburban home, where the police aim their guns and demand that Cam get out of the car. Half-blind with tears and years of repressed anger, Cam challenges the police to a fight, but when Tommy recognizes him, he says that he knows Cam and orders the other policemen to back off. Tommy tries to calm Cam, who refuses to listen, but finally Tommy is able to convince the police to let Cam go with a warning. Cam drives away with Anthony, who was not seen by the police, then drops him off on the corner, stating that Anthony is an embarrassment both to Cam and himself. At the same time, Farhad drives to Daniel's house just as Lara is coming home. When Daniel arrives, Farhad accosts him at gunpoint in his driveway, insisting to be repaid for his store. Lara watches from the doorway, and when she sees the gun, she runs to her father, jumping into his arms just as Farhad shoots. While Daniel, his wife and Farhad all freeze in agony, Lara whispers to her father, "I'll protect you," and they realize that the child is unharmed. As Daniel carries her inside, she says, "It's a really good cloak." Across town, Jean is telling her best friend that she is constantly angry and never knows why, and after her friend hangs up, Jean falls down the stairs. Just after the failed carjacking, Peter is trying to hitchhike home, and finally gets a ride with Tommy. The policeman tries to maintain his impartiality, but upon spotting Peter's torn clothing, becomes concerned that the boy is dangerous. Therefore, when Peter begins laughing, Tommy immediately takes offense, not realizing that Peter is amused because the two men share the same St. Christopher statuette. Tommy orders him out of the car, and when Peter reaches into his coat to pull out the figurine, Tommy panics and shoots him. Horrified, Tommy pushes the dead body out of the car onto the road and drives off. It is this crime scene to which Graham has been called when Ria and Kim Lee collide. Back in the present, Graham freezes upon seeing Peter's body, recognizing the boy as his brother. In a passing bus, Anthony is riding home, and when he spots the van of the man he hit, with the keys still dangling in the lock, he exits the bus and drives the van to Lucien's. There, they discover a group of Southeast Asian refugees chained inside the van, and Lucien offers to pay Anthony for them. In the hospital morgue, Graham brings his mother to view Peter's body, and when he promises to find the killer, his mother cruelly blames Graham for the death, as he was "too busy" to rescue Peter. Ria is waiting for Graham, but he brushes by her without a word, fighting back his tears. Nearby, Dorri finds Farhad sitting on the ground holding the gun, and he informs her that although he shot a little girl, she was his angel, and survived. Crying, Dorri puts away the gun, next to the box of blank bullets she had purchased earlier. On the Westside, Jean calls Rick to tell him she has sprained her ankle and had only her Latina maid Maria to aid her, and when she tells him she loves him, he responds without emotion, causing Jean to turn to Maria for comfort. In distant parts of the city, Ryan holds his father as he breaks down in tears, while Daniel stares out the window as his wife and daughter sleep. Later, Tommy sets his car on fire in an abandoned lot to destroy evidence of the shooting, and the falling ash looks like snow in the sky. Spotting it, Cam stops the car and joins the hooligans celebrating around the fire. When Christine calls him, he tells her that he loves her. Anthony has in the meantime brought the terrified prisoners to Chinatown, where he releases them, sacrificing a quick profit. As Anthony drives away, an Asian man crashes into Shaniqua's car, and while snow begins to drift down, the two drivers begin slinging racial slurs on the street.
Ime N. Etuk
Daniel Dae Kim
Chris "ludacris" Bridges
Greg Joung Paik
Paul E. Short
Scott M. Austin
Derek Lee Bell
David R. Blakely
Kirk L. Bloom
Roger S. Bojarski
Andy Chih-jen Chang
Cary "nw" Conway
James "spud" Danicic
David Saenz De Maturana
Heather I. Denton
Jennifer W. Dunne
John Carlo Dwyer
Robert Estrella Jr.
Ime N. Etuk
Sarah Halley Finn
Sarah Halley Finn
J. L. Fisher
Marc David Fishman
Curt Michael Grooms
H Haden Hammond
Mark R. Harris
Adam S. Hawkey
John W. Jergensen
Richard Mark Jones
Howard M. Keys
Paul Butch Kitchen
Jason La Rocca
J. Kathryn Landholt
Richard D. Lewis
Michael J. Linowes Esq.
Kevin P. Loding
Jeffrey C. Machit
D. Fred Masselink
Peter J. Mckernan
Ronald A. Mendelsohn
Lawton "richie" Metcalfe
Leslie A. Morrow
Scott D. Mosher
J. Michael Muro
Ben Nye Jr.
Juan J. Ramirez
Best Original Screenplay
Best Original Screenplay
Best Original Screenplay
Best Supporting Actor
The closing credits begin with the statement: "For Anita Addison (1952-2004), a great friend." Ryan Phillippe's name is misspelled "Phillipe" in the closing credits. The closing credits list acknowledgments of a number of individuals and institutions, including members of The Actors Gym in Hollywood, the cities of Santa Monica and Los Angeles, the Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen of North America. While the Variety review of the Toronto International Film Festival screening lists a running time of 112 minutes, the running time of the film at its national release, in May 2005, was 107 minutes.
Crash weaves together multiple story lines, almost all of which, by the end of the film, are revealed to be interconnected, if only in small ways. Much of the film is shaped as a flashback after "Det. Graham Waters" identifies his brother "Anthony's" dead body, and is largely episodic, with some scenes lasting only seconds before moving on to another character's story. The Persian characters often speak un-subtitled Farsi.
On July 23, 2003, Hollywood Reporter reported that Crash would be produced by Bull's Eye Entertainment and financed by Stratus Films. An article in Screen International on November 7, 2003 stated that Blockbuster, which owned DEJ Productions, had pre-bought the U.S. video and television rights to Crash and was supplying financing for theatrical advertising costs. Hollywood Reporter announced in December 2003 that Jason Isaacs would play "Detective Grace," a character responsible for solving a murder that would form bookends to the various stories. Although Isaacs was listed in all of the Hollywood Reporter production charts throughout the filming of Crash, neither the character nor the situation appears in the final film, and the actor is among those thanked in the closing acknowledgments. Forest Whitaker was originally cast as "Cameron," but according to producer-director-writer Paul Haggis' commentary track included on the film's DVD release, Whitaker left the production due to scheduling conflicts. As noted in the November 2003 Screen International article, Heath Ledger and Eva Mendes were originally cast in the film.
Haggis, formerly a successful television producer and writer for shows such as L.A. Law and thirtysomething, discussed the film's inception in many contemporary sources, noting that the idea occurred to him in 1991, after he was the victim of a carjacking. Haggis stated in an essay posted on the Landmark Theatres website that after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, he awoke in the middle of the night consumed with questions about the two carjackers, and wrote a detailed treatment about them. In an interview published in DVD Exclusive in August 2005, the director stated that he wrote Crash immediately prior to writing his debut script for Million Dollar Baby, the Clint Eastwood-directed 2004 release (see below) for which Haggis won an Academy Award. Both screenplays were written on spec. As Haggis remarked in a September 2005 Hollywood Reporter article, he originally conceived of Crash as a television pilot featuring more than thirty characters, but after failing to raise interest in the project, put the script aside for a year. After Million Dollar Baby was optioned, Haggis said in the DVD Exclusive article, he invited Bobby Moresco to rewrite the Crash script with him.
In another online interview, Haggis noted that he had trouble stirring studio interest in the project, but eventually producers Bob Yari and Cathy Schulman agreed to put up the money to cast the film. After the film's release, the producers filed a number of lawsuits: In January 2006, Yari sued Schulman and executive producer Tom Nunan for improperly taking funds from their joint production company; in February 2006, Schulman sued Yari for failing to pay $2 million in fees to her and Nunan; and in March 2006, Yari sued the Producers Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for "wrongful denial of fair procedure" because he was denied credit for Crash. Only Schulman and Haggis received Academy Award nominations. After winning the Oscar, Schulman thanked Yari twice in her acceptance speech. As of April 2006, the dispositions of the suits remain unknown.
On the Landmark Theatres website, Haggis noted that the cast took almost one and a half years to assemble, with actor Don Cheadle the first to become involved; Cheadle was at that time unsure whether he preferred the role of Waters or that of Cameron. Cheadle signed on as a producer of the project, marking his producing debut. Haggis stated in an interview that Cheadle's involvement then spurred the commitment of the other actors.
Midway through the shooting schedule, Haggis, making his directorial debut, suffered a heart attack, causing production to be shut down for two weeks. Although doctors advised him to turn the film over to another director, Haggis refused. The film began shooting on December 8, 2003 in Los Angeles, and utilized many of the city's neighborhoods as locations, including Studio City, Eagle Rock, L.A. City Hall and Venice, as well as Long Beach, CA. In the DVD commentary, Haggis referred to Los Angeles as "a character in the film." He also pointed out the various ways in which the production cut corners to accommodate the picture's relatively small budget of $6.5 million. For instance, Haggis' own home stood in for the home of the "Cabots" and "Officer Ryan's" apartment is the same set as Cameron and "Christine's" house. The filmmakers noted in several sources that the cast and main crew members worked for very little remuneration.
On the DVD commentary, Haggis explained the decision to depict snowfall in Los Angeles, which has occurred only a few times in the city's history, stating that it signals hope and shows that "If it can snow in Los Angeles, then anything is possible." Moresco's daughter Amanda plays Cameron's first assistant director, and Haggis' son James plays the boy walking home with "Lara." Kathleen York, who portrays the police officer who explains the "Conklin" shooting to Graham, also wrote and sang the song "In the Deep," under the name Bird York, which plays throughout the film. One online source adds Nicholas George Stark and Doug Tochioka to the cast.
When Crash had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2004, it still did not have a distributor. Despite the fact that, at that time, Million Dollar Baby had not yet been screened and so Haggis was an unknown in motion pictures, Lion's Gate purchased the film for distribution at a price of $3.3 million. After screenings at the Newport Beach Film Festival on April 15, 2005 and the San Francisco International Film Festival on April 30, 2005, the film opened nationally on May 6, 2005. Although the reviews were mixed and many critics considered the story melodramatic, as of December 2005 Crash had grossed over $55 million, marking it as a major box-office success compared to its cost. A June 3, 2005 Hollywood Reporter article lauded the film's "bold release plan, emotional ad campaign and aggressive screening program." Screenings targeted various American race-based organizations and won support from such leaders as future Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Rev. Al Sharpton and the leadership of the NAACP.
In addition to being selected as one of AFI's ten Movies of the Year for 2005, Crash won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Original Screenplay and Film Editing, as well as nominations for Directing, Original Song and Best Supporting Actor (Dillon). Subsequent to winning the Best Picture Oscar, in what was considered by many to be an "upset" over front-runner Brokeback Mountain (see below), Crash attracted considerable press attention. Some critics attributed the film's victory to veiled homophobia against Brokeback Mountain, others to the large cast of actors (actors make up the largest percentage of Academy voters), and others to Lion's Gate's aggressive marketing campaign. On March 11, 2006, the British newspaper The Guardian published an article by Annie Proulx, author of the story on which Brokeback Mountain was based, criticizing Crash as the "safe pick" by a group of voters out of touch with American culture and realities.
The film received the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, and Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards for Best Acting Ensemble and Best Writer. Terrence Howard won the National Board of Review Award for Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actor, and the film received the Writers Guild Award for Original Screenplay; a Producers Guild nomination for Best Picture and a Directors Guild nomination for Best Director. Other industry accolades included SAG nominations to Matt Dillon and Don Cheadle for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role; Golden Globe nominations Best Screenplay-Motion Picture and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Dillon) and Broadcast Film Critics Association nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Howard) and Best Director.
Hollywood Reporter announced in June 2005 that the FX television network was developing a series based on the film, to be produced by Lion's Gate Television, Haggis, Cheadle, Schulman, Yari and Tom Nunan. The article stated that Cheadle would likely appear in and direct several episodes and that Sandra Bullock, Dillon, Brendan Fraser and Chris Bridges (a rap singer also known as Ludacris) were in discussions to reprise their roles for the series.
Winner of the 2005 Artios Award for Feature Film - Drama by the Casting Society of America (CSA).
Winner of the 2005 award for Best Cast by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).
Winner of the 2005 award for Best Male Breakthrough Performance (Terrence Howard) by the National Board of Review (NBR).
Winner of the 2005 award for Best Original Screenplay by the Writers Guild of America.
Winner of the 2005 award for Screenplay of the Year by the London Critics' Circle.
Winner of the 2005 Eddie Award for Best Edited Feature Film (Dramatic) by the American Cinema Editors.
Winner of two 2005 awards for including Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress (Thandie Newton) by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).
Winner of two 2005 awards including Best Acting Ensemble and Best Original Screenplay by the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA).
Winner of two 2005 awards including Best Film and Best Screenplay by the Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA).
Released in United States Spring May 6, 2005
Released in United States on Video September 6, 2005
Released in United States September 2005
Shown at Deauville Festival of American Cinema September 2-11, 2005.
Eva Mendes previously attached.
Forest Whitaker previously attached.
Heath Ledger previously attached.
Lions Gate acquired film for a reported $3.3 million at the 2004 Toronto Film Festival.
Reportedly, Lions Gate spent $4 million in its 2006 Oscar campaign for the film that cost only $6.5 million to make.
As determined in December 2005 by the Producers Guild of America, Haggis and Schulman as the only two credited producers of "Crash."The guild had ruled that four other people who were listed on the film's credits as producers did not fulfill enough job duties to qualify for the title: Yari, Mark Harris, actor Don Cheadle and co-writer Bobby Moresco.
Released in United States Spring May 6, 2005
Released in United States on Video September 6, 2005
Released in United States September 2005 (Shown at Deauville Festival of American Cinema September 2-11, 2005.)
Voted one of the 10 best films of 2005 by the American Film Institute (AFI).