It’s one of the oldest saws in Hollywood: making movies is trickier than David Copperfield. Just ask Weisman. First, he set up this adaptation of Donald Westlake’s 1996 novel at United Artists, with James Gandolfini and Heath Ledger. Then the company dissolved (it’s since been reincarnated as an indie division). Next, MGM executive Jeff Kleeman picked up the script and called Weisman. ”I didn’t know who he was and didn’t return the call,” the director says. Finally, his agent hooked him up with the exec, but when Weisman arrived in L.A. from Boston to meet him, Kleeman announced that he had fallen in love and was quitting to move to England.
So what finally kick started this comedy, about a couple of crooks (Lawrence and Leguizamo) whose attempted robbery of a rich mark (DeVito) goes horribly wrong? ”Thank God for Danny DeVito,” says Weisman of the actor producer director whose clout got the deal done. With the cast in place, the director gave his stars free rein. ”The set was great — I got to improvise crazy nonsense,” Leguizamo says. ”And Sam’s got the most infectious laugh. AHHH HA HA HA HA! Kinda high, like a girl.”