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Most actors jump at the chance to work with Woody Allen, but he didn't let them know they were going to be in a musical. Louise Keller reports.

"This film is experimental for me. Iíve never tried anything this musical before," explains Woody Allen. "The truth is I donít even think of it as a musical but as a comedy where the characters sing and dance. I always wanted to do a film where people sang not as slick singers but as an extension of their acting at the moment."

For the most part, virtually all the actors involved had no idea that Allen was casting them in a musical.

On casting this, Allenís 26th film, he was not looking for trained singers and dancers. "In fact when I cast this picture I never told people theyíd have to sing or dance, or even asked them if they could," the director says. "I was only interested in if they could act their role well; as far as dancing and vocals, I just wanted honest and simple emotion. Often the most interesting renditions of songs are done by people who donít really have particularly good voices but are good actors, full of feeling and a certain kind of charisma or emotion. That was much more important to me."

Of the large ensemble cast, only Goldie Hawn and Alan Alda had any significant experience in musical comedy. For the most part, virtually all the actors involved had no idea that Allen was casting them in a musical.

"Rehearsal was a four-letter word," Edward Norton, actor

"Apart a month after I got the part, I got a call from Dick Hyman telling me that he was going to send me some sheet music," recalls Edward Norton. "I asked him if my character in the film was a singer, and he told me that we were doing a musical. That was the first I knew about it."

"Itís still acting a moment in time, only youíre singing," Julia Roberts, actress

"After the initial recording was done - which was nerve wrecking - it was fun to do something that I was almost entirely unqualified for," says Julia Roberts, "and it was nice to venture into different territory. Itís still acting a moment in time, only youíre singing."

Allen worked with his actors in the same unique way he has during years of directing comedies and dramas. Each actor was only given the pages of the script that pertained to his or her character, and there was no rehearsal period before principal photography began. On the set, Allen rarely offered his actors specific directions, preferring instead to encourage them to fully explore the range of their charactersí emotions. Casting the right actors in the right roles is a hallmark of Woody Allen films.

"You know that if he doesnít say anything to you on the set that heís quite happy." Goldie Hawn, actress

"Rehearsal was a four-letter word," recalls Edward Norton, "and I think Woody wanted things impromptuÖ"

Allen has always been regarded as an Ďactorís director,í widely known for encouraging the creative input of the actors, working with them when his insights are needed, while constantly supporting an improvisational approach to his screenplays.

"Woody has a method thatís completely different from any Iíve ever seen," remarks Alan Alda. "And at first it can be daunting, but once you get the rhythm of it you really feel free to play and find the stuff in your character that you didnít know you were going to do. I donít remember seeing a weak performance in any of his movies."

"Woody knows exactly what he wants," says Goldie Hawn. "Heís a man of few words, but he certainly will guide you along if youíre going down the wrong path. You know that if he doesnít say anything to you on the set that heís quite happy."

"When the way I see it, this cast makes me look like a hero." Woody Allen, writer/director

"Getting hired to work on a Woody Allen film is the biggest compliment you can get, because he is showing that he trusts you and believes you have the ability to be prepared and deliver the performance that he wants." Says Drew Barrymore.

The songs used in Everyone Says I Love You were chosen specifically because they either advance the plot or they express emotions that characters involved are feeling. So much of the music used in this film has to do with conditions of the human heart.

From his perspective, Woody Allen feels fortunate to have the cast he has assembled. "Actors tend to be insecure, and they twist things around in their minds so that they think that theyíre the lucky ones to have gotten the job," Allen observes. "When the way I see it, this cast makes me look like a hero."

Allen concludes: "With this film I was trying to make an amusing, entertaining confection. I always wanted to do a film that took place in my three favourite cities - New York, Paris and Venice. And most important of all, I always wanted to play a scene with a mustache. What more can I say about this movie?"

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