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Inside 'Hancock'


Back Story
Disgruntled superhero Hancock (Will Smith, left) saves the life of PR exec Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman, in car, right).
Disgruntled superhero Hancock (Will Smith, left) saves the life of PR exec Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman, in car, right).
© 2008 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.

Ta­lk about protracted labors. "Hancock," originally titled "Tonight, He Comes," has been in development since the early '90s. Goldsman, the Oscar-winning writer of "A Beautiful Mind," and who also wrote the scripts for "The Da Vinci Code," and "I, Robot," produced "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," and was writer-producer on "I Am Legend," repeatedly banged on studio doors but got nowhere with it for the better part of 15 years. "It was dark and emotional at a time when superheroes were less three-dimensional. It was very difficult to get anyone interested in making it," he explains.

Then flawed heroes began to emerge in movies like "X-Men," "Spider-Man," and even the animated "Incredibles," paving the way a bit. Finally, Richard Saperstein bought it for Lions Gate, Michael Mann agreed to direct, and Mann, Goldsman and screenwriter Vince Gilligan worked on a new version of the script.

Will Smith became attached three years ago, but Mann ultimately opted to direct "Miami Vice," and several directors declined before Peter Berg took the job. Meanwhile, the script went through more revisions so Smith made "I Am Legend" first. "We had to build a structure that served two different tones. That's complicated," explains Goldsman, alluding to a twist involving Mary (Charlize Theron) and her connection to Hancock.

When Hancock (Will Smith, left), saves the life of a PR exec, he tries to return the favor by cleaning up the disgruntled superhero's public image, despite the fact that his wife, Mary (Charlize Theron, right) thinks that Hancock is a lost cause.
When Hancock (Will Smith, left), saves the life of a PR exec, he tries to return the favor by cleaning up the disgruntled superhero's public image, despite the fact that his wife, Mary (Charlize Theron, right) thinks that Hancock is a lost cause.
© 2008 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.

The script continued to evolve during production, which posed problems for the visual effects team. Notes Ken Hahn, "Concepts changed, story ideas changed and the visual effects had to keep up." It wasn't the only challenge they faced. Continue reading to learn about some other challenges.