Trial and Error: About The Cast

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After eight years as Kramer on the hit comedy "Seinfeld," MICHAEL RICHARDS (Richard Rietti) has emerged as one of the most recognizable figures in television history. Just as Kramer is completely devoted to Jerry, so, too, is America devoted to Richards' unrivaled comedic performances. Having garnered two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, Richards has already parlayed his tremendous popularity into a string of feature film roles. Most recently, he starred opposite Andie MacDowell and John Turturro in Unstrung Heroes, directed by Diane Keaton, a film about a young boy who runs off to stay with his eccentric uncles after his mother is diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Richards is in the process of developing another feature film, My Blockbuster, a project on which he also serves as co-writer. His additional feature film credits include Airheads, So I Married an Ax Murderer and The Coneheads.

In 1979, Richards decided to pursue his life-long interest in comedy by performing stand-up. After performing nightly for nine months at such places as The Comedy Store and The Improvisation, Billy Crystal gave him his first "real paying job" on "The Billy Crystal Special." From there, he spent the next two and a half years starring in the ABC comedy, "Fridays."

JEFF DANIELS (Charles Tuttle) is perhaps best known for the easy comic flair that earned him leading roles in films like Dumb and Dumber, Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo and Jonathan Demme's Something Wild.

Daniels arrived at cinema by way of the New York stage. In the role of Jed in Lanford Wilson's "Fifth of July," he won his first widespread recognition, earning a Drama Desk nomination for Best Supporting Actor. For the next three years, Daniels played Jed in four different productions of the drama: Off-Broadway, in Los Angeles at the Mark Taper Forum, On-Broadway, and on television (with Richard Thomas co-starring) for PBS.

Daniels made his feature film debut in Milos Forman's screen adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime. His first popular success came with his next project, Terms of Endearment. As Debra Winger's philandering husband Flap, he proved convincing enough to reap scorn in public places for his treatment of his on-screen wife Debra. That talent, along with a deft comic ability, caught the attention of Woody Allen and won him both leading roles (as an actor and his character who literally steps off the screen) in The Purple Rose of Cairo.

Daniels next appeared in Mike Nichol's Heartburn with Meryl Streep, in Marie with Sissy Spacek, and onstage, Off-Broadway, opposite Stockard Channing and Irene Worth in A.R. Gurney's "The Golden Age."

He won a second Drama Desk nomination for his performance in the Off- Broadway revival of Lanford Wilson's "Lemon Sky." His most recent stage appearance was in the Broadway production of Lanford Wilson's "Redwood Curtain," which he reprised for a "Hallmark Hall of Fame" television adaptation.

His other film credits include Speed, Arachnophobia, The House on Carroll Street, Sweetheart's Dance, and the TNT original production, Gettysburg. Last year, he starred in the films Fly Away Home with Anna Paquin and 101 Dalmatians with Glenn Close and Joely Richardson. He is currently in production on Pleasantville, with co-star Joan Allen, for director Gary Ross.

In 1991, Daniels founded the Purple Rose Theatre Company in his hometown Chelsea, Michigan, a theatre dedicated to nurturing the ambitions of Midwestern actors, playwrights, directors and designers. His own comedy, "Shoe Man," won the Detroit News Critic's Award for Best New Play of the 1990- 91 season. Other plays written by Daniels, which have premiered at the Purple Rose Theatre, include "The Vast Difference" and "Thy Kingdom's Coming."

RIP TORN's (Benny Gibbs) versatility is as legendary as his sharp dramatic characterization, but it was his portrayal of a heavenly factotum in Albert Brooks' 1991 hit comedy Defending Your Life, which led Garry Shandling to see that Torn would be the perfect producer for his HBO comedy series "The Larry Sanders Show." For his performance in the role of Artie, Torn received four consecutive Best Supporting Actor Emmy nominations for each of the show's four years, winning the coveted award this past year. In 1996, he was the only actor nominated for an Emmy for his work in a comedy and a drama ("Chicago Hope").

Torn's reputation as an actor's actor was earned on the stage as well as the screen, due to his portrayal of Brick in the Broadway adaptation of Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." He made his film debut in 1957 in Baby Doll and followed up with A Face in the Crowd.

His many screen credits include such films as How To Make An American Quilt, Stranger Things, Nadine, Cold Feet, Extreme Prejudice, One Trick Pony, King of Kings, Coma, The Man Who Fell To Earth and The Cincinnati Kid. In 1983, he received an Academy Award nomination for his performance in Cross Creek.

Torn began his television career with live performances on "Kraft Theater," "Playhouse 90," "Hallmark Hall of Fame" and "Alcoa Hour." He has earned two Cable Ace awards, an American Comedy Award, an Emmy Award for HBO's "Laguna Heat" and additional nominations for "The Atlanta Child Murders" and his memorable evocation of Richard Nixon in the miniseries "Watergate."

Torn's achievements on the stage include directing as well as acting (for which he has won numerous Obie Awards). He also founded the Sanctuary Theatre.

CHARLIZE THERON (Billie) is truly a star on the rise. Born and raised in South Africa, she moved to Europe at the age of 16, where she modeled and began her career as a ballet dancer. She attended De Kruin School of the Arts where she danced for five years and then went on to dance for the Joffrey Ballet in New York. When her dance career came to a sudden end because of a knee injury, she decided to go to Hollywood and try her hand at acting.

Trial and Error marks Theron's third foray into feature film. In her first film, Two Days in the Valley, she joined ensemble cast members James Spader, Eric Stoltz, Jeff Daniels, Danny Aiello and Teri Hatcher. For her second feature film, she starred in Tom Hanks' directorial debut, That Thing You Do, about a '60s rock band. She is currently in pre-production for a leading role in Mighty Joe Young.

JESSICA STEEN (Elizabeth Gardner), a native of Toronto, Canada, grew up in a theatrical family with an actress mother and director father. At the age of eight, she landed her first performing role in a Canadian TV series, and at 18 she began working steadily.

She appeared as Lindsay Wagner's daughter in the TV movie "Young Again" with fellow Canadian Keanu Reeves and later received a leading role in Sing, her first feature film. Moving to New York, she then subbed for a pregnant actress on the daytime drama "Loving" long enough to have the character's baby. The part raised her profile enough to get her a co-starring role as Linda, the union organizer, in the critically acclaimed ABC drama series "Homefront."

From there, Steen landed the role of Dr. Julia Heller, a genetically enhanced doctor who served as the lead physician on NBC's sci-fi series "Earth 2." Her other credits include Canadian feature films Flying and Still Life, as well as CBC television movies "High Country" and "Small Gifts," for which she received a Gemini Award for Best Actress.

ALEXANDRA WENTWORTH (Tiffany) was most recently seen in the hit film Jerry Maguire. She made a name for herself as a regular on two seasons of "In Living Color" with her dead-on impersonations of Cher, Cindy Crawford, Sharon Stone, as well as many of her own characters -- all of which quickly became trademarks of the show. She followed up with a starring role in the Fox series "Hardball" as a neurotic publicist for a sad-sack baseball team.

In time, she attracted the attention of Jay Leno, who featured Wentworth's road trip across the country in a $7 car as a "sweeps" week stunt for "The Tonight Show." She made such a splash that she was brought back to reprise her role and has appeared on the show more than 30 times.

Through her trademark comedic perspective, Wentworth has taken viewers on a wild ride, making a "documentary" on the world of modeling and finessing her way into the Cannes Film Festival. She also has a feature film A Model World based on her own original treatment in development.

Born and raised in Washington D.C., she is the daughter of political journalists. She honed her craft at Bard College and later New York University. A classically trained actress, her stage credits include "Sexual Perversity in Chicago," "Fool for Love," as well as her one-woman show, "Deaf, Blind and PMS," which she wrote and directed.

AUSTIN PENDLETON (Judge Graff), an accomplished performer on stage and screen, was recently named artistic director for New York's Circle Repertory Theater. He made his motion picture debut in 1968 in Otto Preminger's comedy Skidoo. Since then, he has appeared in more than two dozen films, among them Catch-22, Guarding Tess, Home for the Holidays and The Muppet Movie. Trial and Error marks his fourth film with Jonathan Lynn, having previously appeared in Greedy, Sgt. Bilko and My Cousin Vinny.

An alumnus of Yale University, Pendleton has a long and distinguished stage career in addition to his film work. A director and playwright as well as an actor, he won an Obie award for his performance in the musical "The Last Sweet Days of Isaac," for which he also received the New York Drama Critics Award, Outer Circle Critics Award and Variety Poll of Critics Award for Best Male Performance.

He has appeared at the Williamstown Theatre Festival opposite Olympia Dukakis in "Mother Courage" and played the title role of "Uncle Vanya" starring with Blythe Danner, Dianne Wiest and Edward Herrmann.

His Broadway credits include "Doubles," "Hail Scrawdyke," for which he won the Clarence Derwent Award, "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad."

As a director, Pendleton made theater history when he directed Elizabeth Taylor and Maureen Stapleton in the highly praised Broadway revival of "The Little Foxes," which earned five Tony nominations.

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