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Sometimes losing your way home means finding yourself

T.K. Poole (Michael Peña), Colee Dunn (Rachel McAdams) and Fred Cheever (Tim Robbins) arrive in New York from Germany only to find their connecting flights canceled due to a power outage. Anxious to get to their respective destinations, they agree to share a rented minivan to suburban St. Louis where Cheever is to reunite with his wife and teenage son. From there, the other two plan to fly to Las Vegas where the macho T.K. wants to make an important stop before seeing his fiancée and the tough yet naïve Colee plans to pay a visit to a fallen fellow-soldier’s family.

  • Information

    Rachel as: Colee Dunn
    Other cast: T.K. Poole (Michael Peña) and Fred Cheever (Tim Robbins)
    Alternative Title: The Return
    Directed by: Neil Burger
    Written by: Neil Burger & Dirk Wittenborn
    Production Status: Available on DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital HD
    World Premiere: September 10, 2008 at TIFF
    Theatrical Release: September 26, 2008 (US)
    Genre: Comedy/Drama/War
    Rated: R for for language and some sexual content.
    Distributor: Lionsgate
    Run time: 113 min
    Production budget: $15.000.000 (estimated)
    Box office: $266,967 (US) | $20,600 (World Wide)
    Producers: Neil Burger, Brian Koppelman, David Levien, & Rick Schwartz
    Original Music by: Rolfe Kent
    Cinematography by: Declan Quinn

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    Production Notes

    “The Lucky Ones is a road movie, and like all classic road movies, it’s an epic emotional journey,” director Neil Burger says. “The three characters have been out of the country for some time and want nothing more than to get home and reconnect with family. But life is never that simple.”

    The essential fact, of course, is that the three characters are soldiers returning from tours of duty – TK is an experienced Army sergeant, Colee a young private, and Cheaver an older reservist. Says Burger, “I thought what better way to look at the country than through the eyes of people who’ve been away serving their country. They’re just trying to be normal, have a good time, find love. It’s funny and heartbreaking.”

    “The movie I looked at the most when writing The Lucky Ones,” says Burger, “Was a great Jack Nicholson movie called The Last Detail directed by Hal Ashby. It’s a very different story but it has a similar tone of humor and heartbreak. You get a real sense of what life was like in 1973 America and I wanted to do the same thing with The Lucky Ones – to have it be a real snapshot of today.

    » Read full production notes

    Production Process

    Filming began in May 2007 and lasted for eight weeks. During that time, the cast and crew formed a close bond as they traveled to locations in Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Colorado, and finally to Las Vegas. About a quarter of the film takes place in the minivan. A rough cut of the movie was shown in September 2007 to potential distributors and Lionsgate bought the rights. The first release date was set in in the Spring 2008 but Lionsgate pushed it back to the fall and the movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival 2008.

    Triva & Facts

    • Although the war in the movie is the Iraq war the never is never mentioned in the movie itself because the director wanted to focus on the characters.
    • Rachel trained for two weeks at Fort Campbell, Tennessee to prepare for the movie. For the first week of her training, no one in her unit, other than her commander, her platoon leader and her platoon sergeant, knew that she was the actress.

    Character Quotes

    Colee Dunn: T.K. if you stay in the car you’ll die!
    T.K. Poole: If I get out of the car I might die!

    Quotes from Rachel

    “I thought she was such a weirdo. She has a strange mix of qualities. She seemed like she’d be a lot of fun to play. I didn’t totally understand her completely. I thought it would be a really great exploration.”
    On her character Colee Dunn (USA Today)

    “When I first read the script [of The Lucky Ones], I didn’t get my character and I found that interesting. She had such a mishmash of qualities — one minute she’s a hellcat and the next she’s so sensitive. I liked that sense of complication. And I was interested in what it is to belong to something like the Army and the nature of true fellowship and service.”
    On her character Colee Dunn (T Magazine)

    “Basically, the movie [The Lucky Ones] is a long road trip, and that was resonant for me.”
    On why she got involved (T Magazine)

    More quotes/interviews from “The Lucky Ones” in our library

    Quotes from Cast & Crew

    “It was real easy. These are two [Rachel McAdams, Michael Peña] really great actors and I felt from the start all three of us were open to each other and generous with each other. We had to be because we were going to be stuck in a car for seven weeks. So we went out to dinner a lot, and I became kind of this social director of these two youngsters. I was surprised how much time they wanted to spend in their hotel rooms. I had to get them out and about. We were in Chicago and St. Louis, two great places to go hear music, and so we did a lot of that. ”
    Tim Robbins, co-star (Movie Online)

    “Well, Rachel’s really, you know… From my perspective, that’s a really difficult role to play and I thought she did it so brilliantly. It’s tough to be optimistic and possess that kind of positive energy. I know people like her character and they’re intoxicating, you know people, but it’s a tough role to play. There’s so many pitfalls in it, and I just felt she did a great job of it.”
    Tim Robbins, co-star (Movie Online)

    “Rachel I had known about, and she was at the top of my list for the character of Colee. You know, Colee’s kind of a complicated part in that she’s really naive, but very wise in a way as well. It’s a very complex role. And I talked to her at length about it, and I just thought that she would be the one to do it. She has sort of similar qualities to Colee in the sense that she has an openness and an optimism that I really responded to.”
    Neil Burger, director (Movie Online)

    “She’s so great in the movie, she plays this incredibly character and it sort of sums up the spirit of the movie.”
    Neil Burger, director (mediathinkRCD)

    Critical Reception

    “Rachel McAdams comes into her own here. Previously she has been seen mostly as a hot chick (the title of her worst film) or an idealized sweetheart. Here she is feisty, vulnerable, plucky, warm, funny. This is her coming of age as an actress. She provides yet another lesson that you can’t judge acting ability until you see an actor given a chance to really stretch. Watch the poignance of the scene when she meets her boyfriend’s family.”
    Roger Ebert (SunTimes)

    “The Lucky Ones isn’t dull, and the actors do quite nicely, especially McAdams, who’s feisty, gorgeous, and as mercurial as a mood ring.”
    Owen Gleiberman (EW)

    “Rachel McAdams, luminous as always. […] The lead actors work so well together, adding depth and levels of vulnerability to fairly underwritten roles, the emotional consequences of the sense of displacement these “lucky” characters — lucky to be alive”
    Laura Kern (New York Times)

    Promotion Tour

    Appearances Rachel attended the Toronto International Film Festival premiere for the movie on September 10, 2008.
    TV Appearances Rachel did not make an TV appearances to promote the movie.
    Magazine features Rachel graces the cover of New York Times Magazine’s T Magazine Fall 2008 edition (view press archive)

    Awards & Nominations

    The movie was not nominated for any awards.

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