The world premiere of "The Guys" — the film version of the play by Anne Nelson — will take place at the Toronto International Film Festival, Sept. 5-14. The movie features the stageplay's former cast members Sigourney Weaver and Anthony LaPaglia as well as the director Jim Simpson. The Guys still runs at New York City's Flea Theatre and now at Los Angeles' The Actors' Gang.
New York City's Bat Theatre Company was a little-known Off-Off Broadway troupe headed up by artistic director Jim Simpson. But in December 2001, when the theatre was still struggling in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, the company — just blocks from Ground Zero — workshopped The Guys, penned by first-time playwright Anne Nelson. The play — which became a full production — revitalized the little company with its big name casts.
The Guys, based on Nelson's real experiences, is a dialogue between a fire captain — who has lost most of his men in the Sept. 11 attack — and an editor who helps him write the eulogies as she struggles herself to come to terms with the event. Both find out, as quoted from the text, "We have no idea what wonders lie hidden in the people around us."
ContentFilm financed, produced and will distribute the screen version of the play. Simpson, in a released statement, said "I’m pleased that ContentFilm and Open City Films have embraced this unique project. The Guys puts a human face on this catastrophe and its intimacy should transfer well to the screen." Nelson concurred saying "I’m deeply gratified that a film version of The Guys can come to life through this team."
The Guys will also hit bookshelves in August as the play will be published by Random House. The paperback will also include two new essays by Nelson and photos from the theatrical production. Associate producer Erik Sniedze was happy to tell Playbill On-Line March 22 that "things are getting back to normal" for the company. The current New York cast of The Guys is Marlo Thomas and Stephen Lang. Past casts have included Bill Murray, Bill Irwin, Anthony LaPaglia, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Swoosie Kurtz, Tom Wopat, Amy Irving and Carol Kane.
The Los Angeles production at The Actors' Gang features Philip Baker Hall and Jeanne Tripplehorn. The company's artistic director Tim Robbins played opposite Helen Hunt in the run's debut. Sarandon also reprised her New York role for the production.
— by Ernio Hernandez