JOHN SINGLETON (director) exploded onto the scene with his first film, "Boyz N the Hood," a tough, intelligent, plain-speaking look at friends in gang-ridden South Central L. A. that earned him two OscarÂ® nominations, for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director. Singleton became the first African-American (and the youngest filmmaker ever) to achieve both honors.
Singleton recently directed the successful "2 Fast 2 Furious" and wrote, produced, and directed "Baby Boy," starring R&B singer (and "Four Brothers" star) Tyrese Gibson, Ving Rhames, Snoop Dogg, and newcomer Taraji P. Henson. "Baby Boy" received four NAACP nominations. He also wrote, produced, and directed "Shaft," starring Samuel L. Jackson, for Paramount Pictures. Before that, he directed "Rosewood," starring Jon Voight and Ving Rhames. Prior to that, he wrote, produced and directed "Higher Learning" starring Ice Cube and Laurence Fishburne, and wrote, produced, and directed "Poetic Justice" starring Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur. Most recently, Singleton produced the 2005 Sundance Film Festival hit "Hustle & Flow."
While Singleton was attending the Filmic Writing Program at USC, he won three writing awards from the university, which led to representation with Creative Artists Agency during his senior year. He was also a two-time recipient of the John Nicholson Screenwriting Award and won the Robert Riskin Award in 1989.
Singleton has won numerous awards, including the LAFCA New Generation Award in 1991, the MTV Movie Award for Best New Filmmaker 1992, the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best New Director ("Boyz N the Hood") 1991, and finally the ShoWest Award for Screenwriter of the Year, and the Special Award for Directorial Debut of the Year, 1992.
He has also directed television commercials for Coca-Cola and AT&T.
ABOUT THE STORY
"The Mercer brothers are tough, street-smart guys," says Mark Wahlberg, the star of the new film from director John Singleton, "Four Brothers," the story of four adoptive brothers who come together to avenge their mother's murder. "They would probably be dead or in jail if it wasn't for their foster mom. They may have gone their separate ways as adults, but they all realize the positive impact she had on their lives. And my character, Bobby, feels like he owes it to her to reunite his brothers and avenge her death."
Academy AwardÂ®-nominated director John Singleton directs the film. "Even in lawless societies, there's a code â a set of rules that people live by. Wrongs still have to be made right," says Singleton. "In our film, each of the Mercer brothers has gone his own way, but they all come back together to make right the wrong of their mother's death. What unites the brothers is the code instilled in them by their mother."
Lorenzo di Bonaventura produces the film. "The Mercer brothers â two black, two white â are linked by their adoptive mother. When these guys lose her â a woman who was only trying to do good in her life and the only person who ever believed in them â they set out to avenge her murder," he says. "To me, that's the critical element â this uncompromising action picture has a deeply emotional core.
"Evelyn Mercer was the glue that held these four boys together," di Bonaventura continues. "They are brothers because of her. They have a family because of her. Now they must make a conscious decision to exact revenge for her murder."
"I've never had something horrific like this happen to my family," says Wahlberg. "I've thought about it a lot; how I would respond, how I would handle it. I think it's a lot easier to say you would be able to forgive and forget when it hasn't happened to you."
Singleton adds that as the brothers avenge her death, they grow closer as brothers. "I've always believed that none of these guys entirely embraced the idea that they were brothers. But when they're stripped of their emotional guard by the death of their mother, they're able to discover how much they really care about each other."
According to AndrÃ© Benjamin, the cast also became closer as filming progressed. "After hanging out with each other, feeling each other out, we fell into the characters that we play in the movie," says Benjamin, who takes on his first starring role with "Four Brothers." "It wasn't anything we were trying to make happen â we just found those roles naturally. I'm an only child in real life, so I don't know what it's really like, but I can tell you that Mark was just like an older brother to us."
"When people see the billboard for this movie," says Tyrese Gibson, who plays Angel Mercer, "they'll say, 'How are they four brothers, when you got two white boys and two black guys?' But a brother is not always somebody that's the same race or even the same blood. We are brothers; you'll see it in the chemistry and in the energy between us. No one will ever be able to take that away from us."
Singleton says that he was immediately struck by how the script worked on so many different levels. "What really appealed to me was the fact that this wasn't a straight genre piece, but a character-driven film with action and drama," says the director. "Its different elements combine to lift it into a higher realm of storytelling that makes for one really action-packed ride."
Previously the director of the acclaimed film "Boyz N the Hood" and the international hits "Shaft" and "2 Fast 2 Furious," Singleton is also a filmmaker with his finger on the pulse of today's audiences and rising filmmaker talents. He recently put on the hat of producer to bring the independent film "Hustle & Flow" to the screen. In "Four Brothers," Singleton brings this story sense and stylish vision to a film that cuts across genres.
Wahlberg believes that Singleton's vision for "Four Brothers" will bring the story home to audiences. "I think John's the right guy to balance out the edge, the emotion, the humor, and the action in this material. He knows this world; it's right in his wheelhouse," says the actor.
di Bonaventura agrees. "John brings a sense of reality and humanity to his films," says the producer. "I've always been motivated by pictures from the '70sâ it was a time when many movies seemed to reflect society back on the audience and had something to say about who we were and where we were going. I think that's valuable and I've always tried to make movies that echo that sensibility. John has the ability to make movies on a contemporary level that speak to the audience in the way that I feel the '70s movies did. There's a truth to them; you can really feel the experience of his stories and characters. John brings that to the table in a big way."
In addition to the tautly written script, Singleton says that the opportunity to work with Mark Wahlberg sealed his decision to direct the film. "When you find a good script, the next choice comes down to casting. I was really excited to be able to work with Mark. We've known each other for a number of years and have always talked about doing a movie together," says Singleton.
Joining Mark Wahlberg â who portrays Bobby Mercer, the eldest of the four brothers in the film â are Tyrese Gibson as Angel Mercer, AndrÃ© Benjamin as Jeremiah Mercer, and Garrett Hedlund as Jack Mercer. Together, the four actors have a very commanding presence; however, the filmmakers emphasize that each actor also brings something unique and special to the table. "Mark is an incredibly smart and versatile actor who brings a lot of heart and soul to the roles he takes on. Bobby Mercer is a tough, no-nonsense guy, skilled in the ways of the streets. He's a guy who doesn't listen to reason all that well, but he has that internal moral compass which I think all heroes need to have â which is, a sense of justice. Mark breathes life into the character, playing him with passion, honesty, and strength," comments di Bonaventura. "AndrÃ© has a quiet, sensitive intelligence that is perfect for the role of Jeremiah, the most grounded of the brothers. Garrett brings a whole lot of edge and sex appeal as well as a playfulness to the role of Jack."
As for the role of the charismatic rogue Angel, Singleton says that Tyrese Gibson embodies the role. "I couldn't think of anyone better than Tyrese to play Angel," he says. "Tyrese has a really cool demeanor about him; he can do a lot of wild things in a movie and people will still follow his character. He's a very funny guy, on-screen and off-screen; whenever we do a movie together it's an adventure."
Release date: 30/09/2005
Running time: TBC
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