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Production Information


Jeff Daniels as Lewis

No less a casting challenge was the role of Lewis, Chris’s blind, acid-tongued roommate and surrogate guardian, who teaches Chris to remember thing by telling the story backwards. Once again, Scott Frank went in an unexpected direction, casting Golden Globe nominee Jeff Daniels in a role unlike any the versatile star has been seen in before. Daniels, who made his big breakthrough with Jonathan Demme’s surreal comedy “Something Wild” and has gone on to a remarkably diverse career, most recently came to the fore with two completely different roles in Noah Baumbach’s “The Squid and the Whale” and George Clooney’s “Good Night and Good Luck.” It was Daniels’ stunning turn in the “The Squid and the Whale” that caught Frank’s attention.

“I saw a part of Jeff in that movie I’d never really seen before,” he says, “and I realized he could be funny and reprehensible and sympathetic all at the same time. I just saw all this stuff going on and I thought he’d be a lot of fun to work with. And, as with Joe, the minute we sat down to talk about it, I knew he was going to be fantastic.”

Adds Walter Parkes: “With this role and his other recent work, I think Jeff is emerging as one of our great American character actors.”

Daniels was lured to THE LOOKOUT by the script. “I’m just looking to do good writing,” he says, “and this script was a character-driven thriller which is full of surprises, where you never know what’s going to happen next but you’re pulling the whole time for this kid to make it through. It was so well-written it immediately made me say ‘sign me up.’”

Once signed up, however, Daniels had a major challenge to meet, especially in shattering the mold of a character type that has become all too much of a movie cliché: the blind man. “What Jeff did with this role was terrific,” says Frank. “We talked about all the different ways people can look and behave when they’re blind but what Jeff did that was so great, was essentially nothing. His portrait was so subtle. We had met with someone who was blind, and at first, you had no idea he couldn’t see you. He pretty much even looked you in the eye, which he said he had learned to do to make people more comfortable. And Jeff picked up on all of that so well.”

Jeff Daniels as Lewis

Daniels also picked up on who Lewis is at heart. “He’s definitely a free spirit and you never know what he’s going to say or do. He’s never let blindness be a handicap to him and I think he probably lives life more now than he did when he was sighted, so he’s a very interesting character to play,” he says.

To further dive into the experience of blindness, Daniels used the help of the Michigan Commission for the Blind in his home state. “They taught me the basics of reading Braille and using the cane and things like going up and down stairs,” he explains. “But even more importantly, I got to meet a lot of people who’ve lost their sight and really see the attitude of these people and how they’ve overcome their problems. It was really a joy to look at life the way they do, so to speak.”

Daniels was especially intrigued by his character’s relationship with Chris Pratt -- for theirs is no ordinary friendship. “They really need each other,” Daniels notes. “Lewis is trying to walk Chris through his new situation and help him get back on his feet emotionally but Chris also helps Lewis. It’s a real give-and-take. I like that about them.”

They might appear like an odd couple of sorts, but on the set the two actors found a rapport that allowed the relationship between Chris and Lewis make to perfect sense. Says Gordon-Levitt of working with Daniels: “There was just an instant connection between me and Jeff. Lewis is so important to Chris because he’s the one person who doesn’t see him through the past, for who he used to be. He’s actually friends with the person Chris is right now.”

Daniels is effusive about Gordon-Levitt’s performance. “He threw himself completely into every single shot, every single day,” Daniels comments. “He’s always been a very good, inventive actor, but I think after this role, he’s really going to take off.”

He has equal praise for Scott Frank. “I’ve worked with a lot of a first-time directors and the great thing they bring to a film, which Scott very much does, is passion. He showed up every day ready, excited and full of adrenaline. And of course, when the script is this great, the actors really want to deliver,” says Daniels.

To complete the main cast, Scott Frank set out in search of the gang of thieves who recruit Chris Pratt into their plan to steal from the bank. Once again, he had an unusual bill to fill...

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