August 21, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

A Simple Plan

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
Wide Release Date
12/11/98
performer
Bridget Fonda, Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton
director
Sam Raimi
distributor
Paramount Pictures
author
Scott B. Smith
genre
Mystery and Thriller, Drama

STARRING Bill Paxton, Bridget Fonda, Billy Bob Thornton, Brent Briscoe, Gary Cole

DIRECTED BY Sam Raimi

It all sounded so … simple. Take Scott Smith’s dark 1993 novel (about two brothers who find a downed plane loaded with $4.4 million), attach some stars, roll the camera, and wait for the dough. But trouble — e.g., a game of musical directors’ chairs that included Mike Nichols, John Boorman, and Ben Stiller — has been brewing since 1992. ”There’s probably been four different directors,” muses Raimi. ”Even I originally passed on it.” Five years later, with budget and shooting schedule trimmed to $16.5 million and 55 days, the movie was a go — until the crew assembled in Minneapolis to find none of the snow required for the shoot. And the final location — Wisconsin — didn’t exactly feel like the promised land. ”It got to be 60 below,” remembers Fonda, who plays Paxton’s calculating pregnant wife. ”The camera operator said the fluid in the camera started to seize up.” But who cares about cold when you’ve got family? ”I get to Minneapolis, look at the 8-by-10s of the actors, and see my dad’s picture!” laughs Paxton, whose retired businessman father has taken up acting. ”He wrote Sam a letter and ended up in the film. We even had a scene together.” (Oct. 9)

THE LOWDOWN All the headaches will be worthwhile if the movie’s as good as the book.

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