Kevin Lomax (KEANU REEVES) is a success in the courtroom and out of it. He's a young Florida defense attorney who's never lost a case. No matter how repugnant the crime, no matter how guilty the defendant, Kevin Lomax has the power to mesmerize the jury into accepting his arguments, buying into his logic, being convinced by his charisma - and freeing his clients.
Lomax enjoys a happy marriage with his sexy young wife, Mary Ann (CHARLIZE THERON), and even has a good relationship with his straitlaced, churchgoing mother (JUDITH IVEY), despite her pursed lips over his small-town-boy-makes-good lifestyle. In fact, things seem just about perfect for Kevin - nearly Heaven on Earth.
But not exactly.
One day Lomax is in court defending an alleged child molester. In order to win his case he has to break down the victim's composure just enough to make the jury wonder if a teenage girl might have lied about her teacher's slimy advances. And win Lomax does - despite his own awareness that his client is guilty as sin.
Soon after, Lomax receives a visitor - an urbane New York attorney (RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON) who explains that his powerful law firm has become aware of the Florida hotshot's acquittal record and would like to meet with him personally - at their very lavish expense.
Over the urgent objections of Lomax's mother, who asserts that New York City is the world's nexus of sin, Kevin and Mary Ann head for the Big Apple and a look at the astounding luxury that life in the big city can offer the fortunate.
And Kevin Lomax meets John Milton (AL PACINO), the man who has summoned him in this extraordinary fashion.
Milton, an earthy, brilliant and charismatic man, is the founder and head of Milton, Chadwick, Waters, a powerful, mysterious law firm with interests and clients all over the world. He's been watching Lomax and he wants him at the firm. He can make Kevin a very enticing offer, he says - a home, a salary, a position in life that no one else can top.
Lomax, dazzled by the gorgeous apartment he's shown, the beautiful women and powerful men at Milton's parties, and the brilliant, accomplished partners in Milton's firm, grabs the brass ring. He and Mary Ann move into their elegant new home and begin a new life.
But as Lomax tastes the power of being a wealthy New York attorney, something in him changes. Winning is no longer just a goal - it becomes an obsession. When Mary Ann starts telling her husband that the other partners' wives are not what they appear, that their life is not a good as it seems, that she's having frightening experiences she can't explain, he comforts her brusquely and ignores what she's saying.
And when Milton's interest in him seems inexplicably generous, Lomax decides not to question it. So by the time he finds himself defending a wealthy real-estate developer (CRAIG T. NELSON) who's accused of three brutal murders, Kevin Lomax is thrilled by the challenge, not frightened by his growing belief that his client is guilty of an even bigger crime.
Then Eddie Barzoon (JEFFREY JONES), the firm's managing partner, dies a sudden, horrible death. Mary Ann's terrified perceptions pull her away from sanity. Another law partner, the beautiful Christabella (CONNIE NIELSON), teases Lomax so seductively he can hardly think.
Kevin's mother comes to New York and warns him that the situation has gone too far and there are certain things he needs to know. And through it all, John Milton keeps reminding his protg that life is rich with possibilities for those who are unafraid to sample them. But Kevin is beginning to be afraid.
Lomax's existence in Heaven on Earth has ended. Now he's stepping into Hell. And standing at the gates to welcome him is John Milton. Movieweb
CAST / CREW
Writing credits (WGA)
Andrew Neiderman (novel)
Jonathan Lemkin (screenplay) ...
Tony Gilroy (screenplay)
Cast Keanu Reeves .... Kevin Lomax Al Pacino .... John Milton Charlize Theron .... Mary Ann Lomax Jeffrey Jones .... Eddie Barzoon Judith Ivey .... Mrs. Alice Lomax Connie Nielsen .... Christabella Andreoli Craig T. Nelson .... Alexander Cullen Tamara Tunie .... Jackie Heath Ruben Santiago-Hudson .... Leamon Heath Debra Monk .... Pam Garrety Vyto Ruginis .... Weaver Laura Harrington .... Melissa Black Pamela Gray .... Diana Barzoon Heather Matarazzo .... Barbara George Wyner .... Meisel (more)
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QUOTES ABOUT THE FILM
"Taylor Hackford had uh... an idea and uh... he persued it. He didn't talk to me about it. It was really a... he seemed excited about doing this picture that would uh.... he felt he had a kind of a canvas here to... to... express some of the feelings that he has about our... our world today. And uh... to me it's always interesting when a director feels that kind of personal connection to the material he's going to be... You think that perhaps a movie has a chance to at least to be going into an area and doing it with a kind of uh... excitement. So that sort of stirred me on. But then we talked about the kind of character this would be the kind of devil it would be, and that's what was intriguing. And what we worked out."Hollywood Online (you can hear this interview on Windows Media or Real Audio here.)
"There was a skeleton of a role there, which Taylor Hackford and [screenwriter] Tony Gilroy helped to fill in with me. There was at least room; there was an empty canvas, but at least it was a canvas." Cinemania
"You feel you have to go 'out there' that's part of what it is but at the same time you don't want to censor yourself. It's a tricky thing; you hope the director will censor you. I had fun doing it, because it was like open season it was there to be explored. Cinemania
"The Devil is a wide-open part. Who can turn it down when someone offers you that kind of a classic character? You feel you should at least try it." Cinemania
WAS PLAYING THE DEVIL SCARY? "I... I must say it does scare you a little, you know. And, but so much we were trying to ah... make the connection to the world today and the content, that I forgot about the fear for awhile and was trying to say well what are we going... how are we going to get through this? So to say a little... to be able to say a little something and be able to do it in a way... in the amount of time you have you know and all this... What was gratifying was to be able to play a character that uh... you know (laughs) you can do almost anything... you can do ANYTHING with. And I kept thinking, the thing that I kept thinking about is... you know... when you are in a role and you're thinking about it, and your thinking was what was like? What was it like being some who's been here all the time and is still with us. (laughs) So you know, you think about the dark ages. The devil knew what was going on then, you know."Hollywood Online (you can hear this interview on Windows Media or Real Audio here.)
"I was lip-syncing to Frank as a way of preparing for a scene as the devil. I wanted to loosen Satan up a bit. Suddenly, everyone said, `You know, this should be in the movie.' So I'm to blame, Frank." The Seattle Times
"There's no barometer in playing the Devil, so anything goes. We wanted a tempting Devil, a Faustian Devil. You really don't want to give it away and have the audience know you're the Devil right off. To give the role credibility, I looked at other people who've played the part, so I wouldn't feel like I'm the only one who ever did it." Pacino singled out late actor Walter Huston ("The Devil and Daniel Webster"), also such texts as "Paradise Lost" and "Dante's Inferno" for study references. Other than that, he flew by the seat of his pants. Improvisational techniques from his Actors Studio days helped. "I don't usually do improv. But I use it to get through the subtext or find areas in a scene I didn't see before. In movies, they usually don't have time for that. An exception was in Dog Day afternoon. The telephone scene was an improvisation between Chris Sarandon and me. We did about seven or eight improvs, and then [director] Sidney Lumet pieced them together." (Scene Magazine, 1997, "Sympathy For the Devil", by Raj Bahadur)
(about a scene in which he breaks into Sinatra "It Happened in Monterey") "That's an example of something that came out of an improv. We wanted the encounter between Keanu and me to have its capriciousness, yet remain in context." (Scene Magazine, 1997, "Sympathy For the Devil", by Raj Bahadur)
"How are you gonna be judged?" Pacino asks. "Are they gonna say, 'The devil didn't really do that'? Anything goes, really." (Detroit News, October 17, 1997, Pacino Looked for Inspiration to Play the Devil, By By Joshua Mooney/ Entertainment News Wire)
"Most of the preparation here was deciding what kind of devil he would be. Everybody has an idea about the devil or pure evil, but what is he, how do you find him?" (The L.A. Times, 1997, "Jumping into the Fire", By Jack Mathews)
He watched William Dieterle's 1941 "The Devil and Daniel Webster" and studied Walter Huston's classic performance as Mr. Scratch. "As soon as I saw that, I was going, 'Whoa," He was giving me wings there. It was just such a brilliant performance. Without him doing anything, he was able to make you feel the devil's power."
He also watched Claude Rains' churlish interpretation of the devil in "Angel on My Shoulder" and Jack Nicholson's womanizing Daryl Van Horne in "The Witches of Eastwick." And he may have taken another look at Robert De Niro's ultra-sinister Lou Cyphre in "Angel Heart." "But the Huston movie helped me most. That kind of sanctioned it, because he was such a consummate actor attempting it. I sort of felt encouraged by that and I went off on a kind of adventure to find my own voice." (The L.A. Times, 1997, "Jumping into the Fire", By Jack Mathews)
"If you're going to play someone who's a classical character, you have to find something that at least alludes to more than a slick car salesman. You have to find some metaphor for what's going on in our lives today." (The L.A. Times, 1997, "Jumping into the Fire", By Jack Mathews)
"This devil has a philosophy of pure evil, but I tried to find stuff that's funny, too. I knew we had to go for that to make it palatable. The idea of being able to run the gamut, to go from being sincere to being flamboyant to being coquettish to being enraged was a lot of fun to do." (The L.A. Times, 1997, "Jumping into the Fire", By Jack Mathews)
I had turned down the script a couple of times before Taylor got involved. When it came around this last time, it was Taylors vision of it that interested me. And also well, sometimes, you look at a script again after a period of time, and your attitude changes. Im reading one now that I cant mention, that I first read 10 years ago, that I possibly would do today. But 10 years ago, you might say, Well, this is interesting but whos going to buy this? Its the same thing with this picture. The script has been around, and its gone the route to the point where, today, it seems to touch on some things that make it seem very current. Like, the whole idea of lawyers being called the new priesthood. I think people can relate to that more these days. (MSNBC, 1997, "Al Pacino: The Devil Finally Emerges", By Joe Leydon)
DIRECTOR TAYLOR HACKFORD
"I was interested in a devil who was sardonic, fascinating, charming, sexy and seductive, but not necessarily all-powerful. This devil operates on the power of temptation. He just puts temptation in front of them, and lets them choose." (The L.A. Times, 1997, "Jumping into the Fire", By Jack Mathews)
"Al is great to collaborate with, because he could [have said], 'Just let me go about it,' [but] I don't work that way, and luckily, neither did he. I have a certain vision, and it took a long time to convince him of that vision. I had to have many meetings with him, rewrite the script, show him where I wanted to go. Once he understood that, he was in with both feet, but we together kind of modeled his performance, because it's a satire. It starts at the beginning very realistically, and grows to the end where you're into a whole phantasmagoric world. He's very subtle for a lot of the film, and at the end he comes out as a very historical character, and at that point I don't think you want him to be whispering. He's very compelling, and very scary." Cinemania
"The people in this story who get into trouble are people who have made certain choices. I don't believe in blaming the Devil for these terrible events; when people have the opportunity to exercise their free will, they choose to damn themselves nine times out of 10. We wanted to show that you make your own choices in life -- the Devil is merely the impulse inside of us to choose what we know is ethically wrong. It's not some guy with a forked tail -- we ourselves are responsible." Hollywood Online
"Al Pacino was the first actor I thought of for the role of John Milton. I told him what I wanted at the beginning, he bought the vision, and then started coming up with his own ideas, and the character of John Milton really blossomed." Hollywood Online
"The courtroom has become the gladiator's arena of the late 20th century. Following the progress of a sensational trial is a spectator sport; you're watching something that's part melodrama, part vaudeville and part cold-blooded calculation. And now that audiences have seen televised trials, they realize that morality and justice have very little to do with the outcomes. The winners are the lawyers who will stop at nothing. I thought it would be interesting to put that behavior into a larger context of right and wrong.
I was also interested in the way that competing and winning have become such core values in our culture that we lose sight of the place where some other concern should intervene. I wanted to examine a character who's been rewarded all his life for being a winner, so he's never stepped back to say that winning may not always be the best thing. We often fail to do that until things go wrong -- we don't know how to anticipate that we're about to take matters too far. Hollywood Online
(about John Milton) "He is familiar, and that's what makes him so dangerous. But when he is fully revealed, that's what also reminds us he was once divine. It was losing the battle, giving up the struggle against those temptations that damned Lucifer. So instead of showing him as something with horns and a tail, we chose to show him as he once was, before his ego corrupted him." Hollywood Online
"Al is probably the most generous actor I've ever seen. He could come to the set arrogant, he could come cool, and he could get away with it. But he doesn't. And Keanu Reeves worshiped Al. They got along great." (The L.A. Times, 1997, "Jumping into the Fire", By Jack Mathews)
PRODUCER ARNOLD KOPELSON
"'Devil's Advocate' is a story about some characteristically American values: ambition, drive, materialism. Going after success and its trappings is a classic American male behavior, and Kevin Lomax shows us what can happen when that behavior gets out of hand. Hollywood Online
PRODUCER ARNON MILCHAN
"Anyone truly caught up in modern society and in running after public success will have done things for their ambition; they will have sacrificed some of their human quotient. The things you run after, the things that you attain all have prices, and they all impact on other elements of your life. It's wonderful and dramatic to look at our lives in terms of right and wrong, to see how close to making a Faustian bargain we have come." Hollywood Online
QUOTES FROM THE FILM
JOHN MILTON: That's out secret; kill you with kindness.
KEVIN LOMAX: Is this a test?
JOHN MILTON: Isn't everything?
JOHN MILTON: Let me give you a little inside information about God. God likes to watch. He's a prankster. Think about it. He gives man INSTINCTS! He gives you this extraordinary gift, and then what does He do, I swear for His own amusment, his own private, cosmic gag reel, He sets the rules in opposition. It's the goof of all time. Look but don't touch. Touch, but don't taste! Taste, don't swallow. Ahaha! And when you're jumpin' from one foot to the next, what is he doing? He's laughin' His sick, fuckin' ass off. He's a tight-ass! He's a sadist! He's an absentee landlord. Worship THAT? NEVER!
KEVIN LOMAX: Are we negotiating?
JOHN MILTON: Always.
JOHN MILTON: Freedom, baby... is never having to say you're sorry.
JOHN MILTON: Guilt is just a bag of fuckin' bricks. All ya gotta do is set it down.
JOHN MILTON: Well, on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most depraved act of sexual theater known to man and 1 being the usual Friday night run-through at the Lomax household, I'd say, not to be immodest, Mary Ann and I got it on to about... seven.
KEVIN LOMAX: What about love?
JOHN MILTON: Overrated. Biochemically no different from eating large quantities of chocolate.
JOHN MILTON: The worst vice is advice.
JOHN MILTON: [Speaking of God] He's an absentee landlord.
JOHN MILTON: I only set the stage. You pull your own strings.
JOHN MILTON: I'm the hand under Mona Lisa's skirt.
JOHN MILTON:[Speaking of God.] "Look, but don't touch. Touch, but don't taste. Taste, but don't swallow."
MARY ANN LOMAX: I know we've got all this money, and it's supposed to be okay, but it's not.
"There is an important scene at the climax of the story in John Milton's home, where he himself is transformed, first into a younger version of himself that resembles Keanu Reeves, and then into an angel. To accomplish this, we used life masks of both Pacino's present-day face and his younger face -- the latter of which we obtained from DICK SMITH, who created it for 'The Godfather.' We also made a life mask of Keanu, and Rick Baker, who did his training long ago with Dick, used all three to transform Al from a mature face to a youthful face to a blend of his own and Keanu's youthful face, and finally into an angel, which is, of course, what Lucifer was before he was cast out of Heaven. Taylor Hackford, Hollywood Online
Real-life real-estate tycoon Donald Trump lent his own Fifth Avenue penthouse to the production to double as the home of real-estate developer Alexander Cullen. Hollywood Online
The trial scenes were shot in both the federal and state courthouses downtown, as well as in the Municipal Building on Foley Square. The company also filmed in the neighborhoods of Chinatown and Soho. Hollywood Online
Sculptor Frederick Hart and the Episcopal National Cathedral in Washington, DC, sued Warner Brothers over a statue that appears in the film and closely resembles Hart's "Ex Nihilo", which is situated above the entrance to the cathedral. A last-minute deal was negotiated to allow the film to be distributed on video. Internet Movie Database
The boxing match that Lomax and Milton attend was not a staged bout, but in fact a legitimate world championship boxing match. The bout occurred on October 4, 1996, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Roy Jones, Jr., IBF super-middleweight champion, squared off against top contender Bryant Brannon. Jones knocked out Brannon during the second round of the bout. Internet Movie Database
Lomax and Milton run into Don King at the bout. King was in attendance that night because one of the fighters he promoted at the time, Oba Carr, fought on the undercard of Jones-Brannon. Carr lost a 12-round decision to WBA welterweight champion Ike Quartey. Internet Movie Database
The budget was $57 million. Internet Movie Database
The ring that Lomax places on a shelf appears and disappears. Internet Movie Database
The shadow of some equipment appears in the foreground when Lomax walks down the empty street in New York. Internet Movie Database
Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
Color, Closed-captioned, Dolby, Widescreen
Commentary by director Taylor Hackford
5 Theatrical trailers
Over 30 minutes of deleted scenes with commentary by director Taylor Hackford
2 TV spots
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Widescreen anamorphic format
Buy the regular video, or the letterbox video