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Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco

Crash

DISTRIB/RELEASE DATE: Lions Gate, May 6

CATEGORY: original

STORYLINE: An Asian driver slams into a black detective (Don Cheadle) and his Hispanic partner (Jennifer Esposito). The district attorney (Brendan Fraser) and his wife (Sandra Bullock) are carjacked by two young black men (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Larenz Tate). A white cop (Matt Dillon) humiliates a black woman (Thandie Newton) and her husband (Terrence Howard). Over a three-day period in L.A., disparate lives collide, provoking questions about race and the way that clashes with strangers can alter our lives.

ABOUT THE SCRIPT: No one is spared in this incendiary “La Ronde,” in which Los Angelenos of various races and classes are driven, as if by magic or destiny, to smash against one another, forcing them to face their deepest prejudices and fears. “These two carjackers stole my car, and after 12 years I decided to write about them,” says Haggis. “I woke up and started writing at 2 in the morning and was finished at 10 a.m., and then called up Bobby and said, ‘I have this story, do you want to try and work it out with me?’ ”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “The characters would say horrible things, things that would make us squirm,” Haggis says. “I would turn to Bobby and say, ‘Can we say this?’ and Bobby would say, ‘If it’s true. It can be a warped, disgusting truth, but if it’s true from even one character’s perspective, then we can say it.’ ”

BREAKTHROUGH IDEA: “The notion of random crashes became the vehicle with which to explore this screenplay,” Moresco says. “The lady in the car accident in the beginning didn’t originally have a husband, but something had to happen when Chris’ and Larenz’s characters were driving along, so we said, ‘Let’s have them run somebody over. Who? Well, that woman on the freeway was rushing, why was she rushing? Maybe her husband got hit with a car. So let’s hit her husband with a car. What was he doing there late at night?’ And that lends itself to more questions and answers.”

FAVORITE SCENE: Moresco: “When Terrence Howard pulls the car over and sees the parking lot with all the kids and the ash that looks like snow. This character was a director, a part of the artistic community, and he didn’t want to lose that world, yet in finding that world he forgot who he was. That night, he remembered how he got there.”

CHOICE LINES: Don Cheadle’s opening narration: “In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.”

Also, the line Sgt. Ryan (Dillon) says when his partner drops him because he’s a bigot. “You think you know who you are? You have no idea.”

WRITERS’ BIOS: Haggis wrote the screenplay for “Million Dollar Baby” and, before that, was a TV writer, director and creator of such shows as “EZ Street,” on which Moresco was a writer. Moresco’s features include “One Eyed King” and “The Dinosaur”; he has written, produced and/or directed more than 35 productions for his L.A. theater company, the Actor’s Gym.