Release Dates: DECEMBER 16, 2005
Trailers: QUICKTIME TRAILER
Official Websites: www.thefamilystonemovie.com
Taglines: Feel The Love.
Production Company: Michael London Productions
THE FAMILY STONE is a comic story about the annual holiday gathering of a New England family, the Stones. The eldest son brings his girlfriend home to meet his parents, brothers and sisters. The bohemian Stones greet their visitor – a high-powered, controlling New Yorker – with a mix of awkwardness, confusion and hostility. Before the holiday is over, relationships will unravel while new ones are formed, secrets will be revealed, and the family Stone will come together through its extraordinary capacity for love.
Sybil Stone (DIANE KEATON) is the strong-willed matriarch who is at the heart of the Stone family, an outspoken woman who wants only the best for her five children. Strikingly beautiful, her face now reflects a recent note of brittleness or fatigue, suggesting that perhaps Sybil carries a secret.
“I was drawn instantly to the character of Sybil because of the many layers to her personality,” says Diane Keaton. “This role allowed me to explore so many – often conflicting – emotions. It was fun playing the character who maintains a semblance of order within the chaos that prevails in her household. Sybil is the glue that holds the family together.”
Sybil and her family are not pleased with the arrival of eldest son Everett’s girlfriend, Meredith Morton (SARAH JESSICA PARKER). Meredith is an immaculately composed, contemporary New York City-based career woman whose tailored suits, upswept hair and subtle makeup speak volumes about her personality, making an indelible impression on both friends and strangers. When she meets the Stones, the results are chaotic and unforgettable.
“Meredith is different from most of the characters I’ve played,” says Sarah Jessica Parker. “She’s controlling, rigid and tightly wound. She’s also intractable and inflexible, and when she finds herself out of her element at the Stone house, she turns into a wreck of a person.
“Meredith tries very hard to relate to the quirky members of her boyfriend’s family, and she works hard to join in their conversations,” Parker continues. “But she simply does not understand the ‘room’ she is trying to become a part of, so she doesn’t realize when she should stop talking. When she tries to dig herself out of these awkward moments, she only makes matters worse.”
After her initial trial by fire with the Stones, Meredith enlists the help of her younger sister, Julie Morton (CLAIRE DANES). Julie, who works at a foundation awarding grants to artists, isn’t nearly as tightly wound as Meredith.
“Julie is not under the same pressure that Meredith is experiencing,” says Claire Danes. “She’s just there to provide moral support. She arrives when her sister’s life is in a state of chaos, and the Stone family – quite eccentric in the first place – seems to be unraveling, and Julie is initially disoriented.”
Danes calls attention to the film’s delicate balance of comedy and drama, saying that it challenged the cast to walk a fine line between the two styles.
“I found working on the film an exhilarating experience, because it forced me as an actor to be as honest as possible,” she explains. “You can’t hide behind a comic or dramatic acting approach, because you would never be able to create and sustain the wide spectrum of dynamic moments throughout the film.”
Julie enters the “lions’ den” with much more ease than her sister, but Julie’s visit ultimately leads to further complications, especially for Everett Stone (DERMOT MULRONEY). Everett is a successful executive in Manhattan whose charm comes from the fact that he seems to be utterly unaware of the effect his attractiveness and easy-going nature has on others.
“Playing Everett was a challenge because he starts out very button-downed and straight-laced, but by the end of the story he returns to his real personality,” explains Dermot Mulroney. “Deep down in his heart, Everett isn’t the over-achieving, submissive ‘suit’ we see at the start of the film; he is really like the rest of the Stone family: loose and kind of Bohemian, with a fondness for free-flowing candid conversation and the laughter that often results.”
Everett’s brother, Ben Stone (LUKE WILSON), seems to have strayed the furthest from his family’s New England roots. A film editor living on the West Coast, Ben’s unpredictable, sometimes mischievous nature is reflected in the ultra-casual clothes he wears.
“Compared to his siblings, Ben is a looser character,” says Wilson. “He’s the free spirit of the family who lives in California, and he doesn’t have a girlfriend. Ben provides a dramatic contrast to his straight-and-narrow brother Everett.”
Ben’s and Everett’s sister, Amy Stone (RACHEL McADAMS), is the passionate, outspoken and youngest member of the family. She bears her luminous natural beauty with an aggressive indifference – and with a near open hostility toward Meredith.
“I was drawn to the dramatic arc that Amy goes through, which eventually brings her full circle,” says Rachel McAdams. “Amy sees herself as honest, not mean, and expresses that uncensored candor in her sardonic wit.
“Amy instantly rejects Meredith as unsuitable for her brother, because Meredith represents a whole way of living – fashionable yuppie success – that Amy has worked hard to reject,” McAdams continues. “Eventually, she comes to realize that she would reject anyone who was brought into the family from outside, because outside is about change. Amy wants everything to stay the same.”
The family patriarch, Kelly Stone (CRAIG T. NELSON), is a college professor in his sixties who is still an impressive figure. Kelly has an obvious love for his family that drives his every move.
“I was attracted to this character because Kelly appears to be the traditional titular head of the Stone household, but it is Sybil who really dominates the family,” says Craig T. Nelson. “Despite his low-key personality, Kelly’s calming yet offbeat influence on each of his five children is obvious.”
Elizabeth Reaser plays another Stone sibling, Susannah, and Ty Giordano portrays Thad Stone, the youngest son, who is both deaf and gay. Giordano is a deaf actor who, like his on-screen character, reads lips and speaks, in addition to signing. Brian White plays Thad’s partner, Patrick.
“This is not a story centering on a deaf character,” Writer-Director Thomas Bezucha explains. “Thad just happens to be deaf. With a deaf member in the family, it is natural that the Stones would be proficient at sign language.” (Bezucha recruited the services of a sign language teacher who worked closely with each actor in the instruction of American Sign Language – ASL – during rehearsals and throughout production. The language is well-suited to films, because it is so visual.)
“The Stones, and Meredith and Julie, are people you could meet in real life,” says Producer Michael London, whose credits include the much-honored pictures “Sideways,” “Thirteen” and “The House of Sand and Fog.” “They can be shortsighted and even kind of nasty to each other. But these flaws make the characters feel real.”
Crew: Thomas Bezucha (writer and director); Michael London (producer); Mindy Marin (co-producer; Jennifer Ogden (executive producer)
Cast: Claire Danes as Julie Morton, Diane Keaton as Sybil Stone, Rachel McAdams as Amy Stone, Dermot Mulroney as Everett Stone, Craig T. Nelson as Kelly Stone, Sarah Jessica Parker as Meredith Morton, Luke Wilson as Ben Stone, Tyrone Giordano as Thad Stone, Brian White as Patrick Thomas, Elizabeth Reaser as Susannah Stone Trousdale, Paul Schneider as Brad Stevenson, Savannah Stehlin as Elizabeth Trousdale, Jamie Kaler as John Trousdale, Carol Locatell as Jeweler and Ginna Carter as Jittery Cashier
Studio: 20th Century Fox