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A Man Apart

Genre: , ,

Cast: Vin Diesel, Larenz Tate, Geno Silva, Jacqueline Obradors

Director:

Rated: R

Release Date: September 2nd, 2003
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A Man Apart

Production Notes:

Sean Vetter (Vin Diesel) and his partner Demetrius Hicks (Larenz Tate) came up on the mean streets of Los Angeles but now work together as DEA agents, fighting a seven-year war to stem the virulent drug pipeline along the US/Mexico border. Dubbed "the gunslingers" for their tough street tactics, their perseverance pays off when they take down notorious Baja Cartel kingpin Memo Lucero (Geno Silva).

With Lucero locked away in a maximum security prison, Vetter is finally able to go home to his wife, Stacy (Jacqueline Obradors), a sanctuary from the harsh realities of his job.
But in the wake of Lucero's arrest, a mysterious figure, known only as Diablo, emerges to violently claim the Baja Cartel. And when Vetter and Hicks set their sights on identifying and stopping this dangerous and elusive new player, Diablo makes the fight personal "” robbing Vetter of the one person who gives his life meaning "” Stacy.
With nothing to lose, Vetter pulls out every hidden resource at his disposal to bring Diablo down "” including an unlikely alliance with the jailed Cartel boss Lucero. He will stop at nothing to avenge his wife's murder, edging dangerously close to the line between justice and lawlessness, even if it sets him at odds with the police unit to which he has dedicated his life.

Internationally-acclaimed superstar Vin Diesel (xXx, The Fast and the Furious, Pitch Black) takes on a compelling role as DEA agent Sean Vetter, who loses everything in his fight to take down a vicious new drug lord, in New Line Cinema's A Man Apart, which also stars rising young actor Larenz Tate (Biker Boyz, love jones, Menace II Society), Timothy Olyphant (Gone in 60 Seconds, Go), Jacqueline Obradors (TV's "NYPD Blue," Six Days, Seven Nights), Geno Silva (Scarface, Amistad), Juan Fernandez(Salvador) and Steve Eastin (Con Air).

A Man Apart is directed by F. Gary Gray (Set it Off, The Negotiator, the upcoming The Italian Job) and produced by Tucker Tooley, Vincent Newman, Joseph Nittolo and Vin Diesel. F. Gary Gray and Robert J. Degus are the executive producers. The co-producer is George Zakk. The original screenplay is written by Christian Gudegast & Paul T. Scheuring.

The behind the scenes talent includes director of photography Jack N. Green, ASC (Space Cowboys, Unforgiven), production designer Ida Random (Along Came a Spider, Rain Man), costume designer Shawn Barton (Love Jones, Friday), special effects coordinator Joe Montenegro (Forrest Gump, Contact), stunt coordinator Tim Davison (The X-Files, End of Days) and editors Bob Brown (The Ghost and the Darkness, The Client) and William Hoy.

Guillermo "Memo" Lucero was the Godfather of the Mexican drug cartel, controlling a vast multi-billion dollar empire of drug trafficking into the United States through the Mexico/U.S. border in California. But on a night raid in Tijuana, American DEA agents, working with Mexico's elite Grupo Tactico unit, finally

apprehended Lucero. The key agents for the Americans were Sean Vetter (Vin Diesel) and his partner Demetrius Hicks (Larenz Tate).

These young agents grew up together in L.A., and chose to pursue crime fighting as an alternative to life on the streets. "At a young age, Sean and Demetrius sought to create their own family," says Vin Diesel, who plays DEA Agent Vetter, "something they could depend on and rely on through life. They both left the street together to work for the right side of the law."

Vetter has also built a life with his wife, Stacy, played by Jacqueline Obradors. "She's his rock," says Diesel. "She’s the reason he didn’t go a certain way, but even more than that "” she is his existence, the reason that he wakes up every day. He can't see life beyond the experience of this marriage. It's almost religious; he has that kind of conviction."

Portraying Sean Vetter's wife is Jacqueline Obradors, a rising star who previously appeared in Six Days, Seven Nights and is a regular on the hit ABC series "NYPD Blue." "Stacy is a very earthy, organic kind of a woman," says Obradors. "She loves her husband and will do anything for him, and is very supportive of him and his career. I think we're at the phase in our relationship where we're ready to have children and expand the family. They have such a sweet relationship that when disaster strikes it makes it all the more tragic."

With Memo Lucero locked away for life in a maximum-security prison, it doesn't take long for a new player to take the reins as the new kingpin of the Mexican cartels. This new player is only known, and feared on the streets, as Diablo"¦the Devil. Whoever Diablo is, he doesn't follow the same code of honor as his predecessor; he will wreak unfathomable misery upon his enemies, bringing vicious retaliation against anyone who stands in his way of money and power.

When Stacy is killed in a botched hit on Vetter's life, a chain of events unfolds that will only result in more violence and bloodshed, as Vetter seeks justice"¦and personal revenge. "They took down this huge drug cartel leader, completing a job that took over seven years," Diesel says. "They got all these accolades and thought they could finally rest, only to find that that world and that experience would come back to find Vetter in what he thought would have been this sanctuary, what he thought would have been a safe place."

As his pursuit of Diablo heats up, Vetter becomes much closer to the evil he is trying to contain, and it is up to his partner to help keep him sane and alive. "Demetrius has to make sure that Sean doesn't go off the

deep end and get himself killed," comments Larenz Tate. "They're both after Diablo, but the way Sean's going after him is just completely rogue. So, Demetrius tries to keep him focused, even through the pain and harsh memories of the things that have happened to him."

The elaborate plot to hunt for Diablo takes Vetter and Hicks from Los Angeles to Mexico, from the desert to the asphalt jungle of the 'hood. Vetter also forms an unlikely alliance with former drug kingpin Lucero, as they both wish to attain the same goal of bringing down Diablo.

Though they're on opposite sides of the law, both Lucero and Vetter find that they have much more in common than either of them thinks. "Memo grew up on the streets in poverty and through his own cunning, ambition and drive has become an enormously powerful figure," says acting veteran Geno Silva. "I think Sean and I both recognize our similarity, the nature and duality of what we do. I think he realizes that despite generalities about drug lords and drug dealers that first and foremost I am just a man, cut from the same cloth as him, and they are a lot alike. That creates a dynamic tension between the two."

Silva found A Man Apart to be a very powerful and truthful film, and was intrigued with the possibility to play the complex character of Memo Lucero. "Lucero is a powerful man," says Silva. "He's a businessman who happens to be in a very ruthless and lethal business, not unlike any big corporation. And with the trappings of being in charge of a $50 billion dollar business, he commands a lot of respect."

Juan Fernandez, best known for his work opposite James Woods in Oliver Stone's Salvador, plays Mateo Santos, Lucero's brother-in-law, who attempts to fill the void left by Lucero's arrest. Fernandez explains, "This film is a thriller, but a very different kind of a thriller, where the characters are real people that I feel the audience will identify with emotionally."

Heading the Los Angeles DEA unit where Vetter and Hicks are assigned is Ty Frost, played by Steve Eastin. "Frost isn't a typical, bureaucratic kind of guy," comments Eastin, a veteran of films such as Field of Dreams and Con Air. "He was probably a good street cop when he was younger, so he can empathize and have affection for Sean and his wife, and Demetrius. However, Frost is concerned that Sean tends to lead with his chin sometimes, and when his family experiences the tragedy, it really complicates their relationship."

Director F. Gary Gray notes that each of the film's main characters experience moments that delve into both the evil and the spiritual side: "From Demetrius' character having the edge and also compassion,

to Sean Vetter's character being a hero, but also wrestling with his own demons. In a sense, he comes close to becoming the Devil and that in itself is a difficult and complex journey to go through."

The premise for A Man Apart originated six years ago from an idea by producers Joseph Nittolo of Nittolo Entertainment, and producing partners Tucker Tooley & Vincent Newman of Newman/Tooley Films, at a time long before the current and heated interest in films about the drug trade. Tooley notes that the frequent cover stories in The Los Angeles Times focusing on the drug cartels and ongoing corruption in Mexico gave the producers the backdrop they were seeking.

Along with writers Christian Gudegast and Paul Scheuring, the filmmakers spent four years researching and developing the project. "Christian and Paul did quite a bit of research before sinking their teeth into the script," notes Tooley. Adds Gudegast, "From the DEA guys, to the Sheriff's Department, to the drug dealers, it's not about black and white. It's not about cops are good; drug guys are bad. It's all very gray. We wanted to show this whole world, and how these two agents, Sean and Demetrius, could so easily have gone either way. They could have gone the route of the crack dealer or whatever, but instead they chose a different career path and became cops."

With a fully developed and researched script in hand, the filmmakers immediately captured the interest of Vin Diesel's representatives. "We thought Vin would be perfect for it," says Nittolo. "Sean Vetter is a man who's lost his wife as a result of a personal war against the drug cartels and is now not only seeking to enforce the law, but seek vengeance. And Vin brought the realism we were looking for and a whole lot of depth."

Director Gray notes that Diesel has a special appeal as both a blue-collar hero and a movie star. "He has the best of both worlds," Gray says.

"The character of Sean Vetter required somebody to be believable as a law enforcement officer, but also somebody who could be credible in the inner city, as someone who grew up on the streets," adds Newman. "There aren't a lot of actors who have that credibility, but Vin has all that."

Diesel was fascinated by the character of Sean Vetter, who walks the edge between hero and anti-hero. "In the beginning of the film Sean is the protagonist, you root for him, but by the second half he's converted," he notes. "So much so that he almost becomes the thing he's fighting."

Diesel also has an established relationship with New Line Cinema, which acquired the script, through his roles in the films Boiler Room and Knockaround Guys. Co-producer George Zakk, Vin Diesel's producing partner,

notes that A Man Apart nailed the kind of edgy role the actor sought. "It's dark, set in the drug world, and features fantastic characters," he says. "It's the psycho-analytical breakdown of a man in dealing with the loss of his wife. It poses the question, 'What would you do if that was your wife?'"

Acclaimed movie and music video director F. Gary Gray was the producers' first choice to direct the film. Gray has an established relationship with New Line Cinema, having helmed his first two feature films, Friday and Set It Off, both of which were widely successful.

Gray, who names Brian De Palma's Scarface as one of his favorite movies, was enthusiastic about portraying the drug trade in a film with multi-dimensional characters and a gritty, acclaimed lead actor. Having worked with Diesel before his rise to stardom from xXx, Gray notes, "I knew I had a great opportunity to work with someone up-and-coming who is a great performer, with really gritty, raw subject matter."

"Gary is a great shooter, he has an amazing eye, and he really knows his craft," enthuses producer Tucker Tooley. "He's committed and passionate, and he brought that with him to the set every day, ultimately making the film grander in scale." Diesel adds, "There's an ardent truth that only Gary could bring."

To play Vetter's partner, Demetrius Hicks, the filmmakers chose promising young actor Larenz Tate, who previously delivered acclaimed performances in such diverse films as Menace II Society and Why Do Fools Fall In Love. "We wanted to counter-balance Vin's presence and size with another kind of presence, someone who could play off of him, because it's their chemistry and relationship that hold the story together," notes Tooley.

Tate, who knew both Diesel and Gray, fit the bill. "In a way, A Man Apart is a buddy cop film but with something different to say, and different themes to explore," the actor says. "In a way, the part felt tailor-made for me."

Director Gray notes that the character of Demetrius had to have a realistic, urban core. "I had to have a person who was credible to the whole urban street element who could give a wide range of emotions, and empathize with Sean Vetter as they take the journey together. Larenz brought more depth and character to the role than I could ever have imagined, and he's a good friend," adds Gray.

"Vin had also been a fan of Larenz's work for some time," notes co-producer Zakk. "He's a very powerful actor "” like a young Denzel Washington," adds Diesel. "And I trust him as a person, which gave another layer of truth to their relationship."

A central figure in the pursuit of Diablo is the charismatic character Hollywood Jack Slayton, a Beverly Hills spa owner who is suspected of

being a drug trafficker, or perhaps Diablo himself. The role of Slayton is played by rising young star Timothy Olyphant, best known for his memorable performance as a drug dealer in Doug Liman's Go.

For Olyphant, the character of Hollywood Jack Slayton was a bit of a mystery at first. "I just kind of glanced at the script and saw a menacing, bad, drug dealer guy," he recalls. "But then I found out that F. Gary Gray wanted the role to be funny, which was not my mindset when I read it initially. I ended up reading the script again with that in mind, and that's when I thought the role was very attractive. Gary gave me a lot of room to play."

Olyphant was especially delighted with the character's look. "It was a really fun departure," he notes. While expecting the usual "bad ass black clothing," when he showed up to work, "They had me wearing powder blue Gucci loafers, powder blue Armani pants, a powder blue shirt, wearing Ray Bans and driving a Porsche Carrera. It was literally like playing Batman; you just let the costume and accessories do a lot of the work. You can't wear something like that, drive that car and act boring, you know what I mean? It was very liberating to have that kind of extreme look. It's also very comical."

New Line Cinema will release A Man Apart (rated "R" by the M.P.A.A.) nationwide on April 4, 2003.

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