Since I had now “tricked” the investors into letting me cast Steve Buscemi and Michael Pitt for my male leads they demanded that the part of K’harma be given to a Real Star. So, we started the slog. First we tried the A-List actresses. They all passed. Then to my utter astonishment we got a yes from Scarlett Johannson. When I flew out to LA to meet her I was in such a rush getting out of the hotel elevator I shoved some jerk kid into the wall before realizing it was Leonardo DiCaprio.
Scarlett was incredible; smart, gracious and intuitive. She gave me some great suggestions for her character which I immediately incorporated into the script. I had my Star. I was on my way.
FLASH FORWARD: A year and half later we still didn’t have the money and by then Scarlett’s star was way out of my orbit. We lost her to the stratosphere.
I met Jessica Alba. She said she wanted to do it. By the time we could afford to make her an offer her glutes had become immortalized by Into The Blue and we could no longer afford them. I met Jessica Simpson. She, her mother and her then husband Nick still wore their mikes from the reality show they were filming. The restaurant where we met wouldn’t allow their cameras in. Jessica never said a word to me. She seemed annoyed and perplexed as if she was waiting for someone to say action.
Then the financiers decided the best thing for the film was for us to get a real pop diva to play the part of the pop diva. Now comes a painful moment for me. Now I reveal something that I know will haunt me for the rest of my life. I wrote a letter to Britney Spears. I did. I admit it.
“Dear Britney,” I wrote. “I have long been a fan of yours.” No, wait. That was the letter to Christina Aguilera. Luckily neither of them responded. Somehow I woke up and realized that what I needed for K’harma was a real actress. Someone who could lift her out of caricature and bring her soul to the screen. And that’s how I decided to cast Alison Lohman. I had seen her in Matchstick Men with Nick Cage and Sam Rockwell and was truly impressed at how she held her own with them.
The financiers agreed and finally early one morning in November of 2005, 6 years after finishing the script, I found myself on the streets of New York City screaming, ACTION!!!