The famous comedy team of Mike Nichols and Elaine May dates back to Chicago's
Second City and its antecedent, The Compass, at the University of Chicago
in the 1950s. On stage, screen and in a series of classic recordings, Nichols
and May were renowned for their acerbic social observations through the
medium of comedy.
Two years ago, Nichols and May reunited for their first official screen
collaboration, the hit comedy The Birdcage. In Primary Colors, they have
found yet another vehicle to illuminate their insights on human nature and
values played out in modern life. Little did they know just how prescient
their adaptation of Primary Colors would turn out to be.
Apart from its uncanny topicality - life imitating art imitating life -
what the film Primary Colors has become in the hands of Nichols and May
is a labor of love and lunacy that impacts the soul as hard as the funnybone.
Primary Colors represents the latest of his films where Nichols holds a
mirror up to human behavior by focusing on a small ensemble of well-defined
character players. The movies for which he has been nominated for the Academy
Award® as Best Director - Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Graduate
(for which he won the Oscar®), Silkwood and Working Girl - feature such
ensembles and incorpor ate signature Nichols elements of riotously funny
and wrenching poignant scenarios.
A work of fiction of such sensitivity that its writer chose to be credited
as Anonymous, Primary Colors was a runaway best-seller upon its publication
by Random House in February 1996. A true feeding frenzy ensued as the media
scrambled to discover the identity of the author, because this was a book
assumed to be a real insider's look at a very familiar presidential candidate
and his most intimate advisors on the bumpy road to the White House.
Primary Colors unfolds through the eyes of Henry, played by newcomer Adrian
Lester. Henry's unobstructed view of the Stantons and the nature of contemporary
politics creates alternating emotions of love and disillusion as he discovers
that both are part of growing up American.
Noted for his work on the London stage, the British-born Lester is virtually
unknown to American film audiences, which is just what the director wanted
to further the notion of his protagonist as an outsider. Surrounding Lester
are some of the most critically acclaimed actors in movies today - John
Travolta, Emma Thompson, Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates - all notably gifted
for their ability to play both comedy and drama.