Dude, Where's My Car? : Production Notes

Born and raised in San Francisco, Sokoloff moved to Los Angeles five years ago and enrolled in the Los Angeles County High School of the Arts, where she studied theater and music. She won numerous awards and accolades for her singing, and she performed the National Anthem at such high-profile events as the Oakland A's baseball games and for the U.S.O.

Ashton Kutcher, who headlines the hit Fox sitcom "That '70s Show," and Seann William Scott, from the smash film comedies "American Pie (1999)" and "Road Trip (2000)," play the Dude, Where's My Car? (2000) Dudes. The film also stars Jennifer Garner ("Pearl Harbor (2001)"), Marla Sokoloff (TV's 'The Practice') and Kristy Swanson ('Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.')

The film is directed by Danny Leiner (TV's 'Freaks and Geeks'), written by Philip Stark ('That '70s Show'), and produced by Wayne Rice ("Suicide Kings (1997)"), Broderick Johnson,Andrew Kosove, and Gil Netter ("My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)," the 'Naked Gun' movies).

My Car? screenwriter Philip Stark admits that some of the characters and situations in the film are based on his own circle of friends. "Basically, Dude is about just me and my buddies," Stark offers. But Stark also wanted to create his own version of one of today's most popular genres. "Dude is a take-off on teen/high school comedies," he continues. "But I was less concerned with creating typical romantic and adventure elements than with concocting a story, with an absurd logic to it, about two lovable knuckleheads."

The Dude cast and filmmakers thought Stark's characters and take on the genre were truly original. "Dude has a fresh voice, and it doesn't feel derivative," producer Wayne Rice says. Director Danny Leiner's ('Freaks and Geeks') initial reaction to Stark's script was, "What is that crazy title?" But as he continued to read, he got caught up in the story's unique universe. "I really fell in love with this bizarre adventure," he continues. I was laughing out loud as I read it."

The actors who play the Dudes were equally taken with the script. Ashton Kutcher says that "Dude, Where's My Car? (2000) is a completely altered universe, and completely out of control." Fellow Dude-ster Seann William Scott adds, "You read the title, and right off the bat you're laughing. But you also really care about the Dudes. They're goofy and funny, but their heart is always in the right place."

Scott and Kutcher's on-screen chemistry was crucial to the film. "We knew going in that Dude would work only if our Jesse and Chester had great chemistry," Rice explains.

"We were looking for the great comedic team of the new millennium, but we just settled for really funny," jokes producer Gil Netter.

The filmmakers cast Kutcher after visiting the actor at his home. Within five minutes of their arrival, they knew they had a Dude. "Ashton was doing grouting work in his bathroom, while he was receiving guests throughout the evening," Rice remembers. "He was like this Home Depot guy - a dude, through and through."

With half of the Dude team aboard, the real casting challenge was only beginning. The difficult part was finding the right actor to pair with Kutcher. The filmmakers screen-tested over a thousand hopefuls before Seann William Scott nailed the part. "Seann really surprised us," Leiner recalls. "We knew his work in 'American Pie' and 'Road Trip,' where he played tough, jock-type guys. But in reality, Seann has a real sweet side to him, which was perfect for the role.

Seann and Ashton became the Dudes during the screen-test," Leiner continues. "Their comedy and physical timing were just perfect. They really climbed into their characters' skins."

Scott and Kutcher's clueless dudes hardly are typical movie protagonists. But in Dude, Where's My Car? (2000)'s other-worldly and bizarre reality, they may be the film's closest thing to "normal." The actors, while enjoying the Dudes' humor and fun, wanted to make them real characters. "Even if they are bumblers, you want to believe in these guys and root for them, like you root for Jim Carrey in 'Dumb and Dumber (1994),'" Scott explains.

Scott and Kutcher displayed a very real emotion - fear - during a key sequence involving malevolent ostriches. Both actors thought working with the 10-foot, 250-pound creatures was their most memorable experience during production. "They're big friggin' animals - like dinosaurs, or at least a really big chicken," Kutcher laughs. Scott adds: "The ostrich scene was the weirdest thing I'd ever read - and filmed. It was a real rush."

Kutcher's adrenaline really began to flow when one of the beasts decided to charge him. Although Kutcher was outweighed by almost 100 pounds, the fearless actor was more than up to the challenge. He grabbed hold of the ostrich's neck, stopping its race for freedom. The southern California town of Sierra Madre, where much of the film was shot, was grateful to Kutcher. "That ostrich could have done some damage to the neighborhood," one relieved resident was heard to say.

Crazed ostriches aside, the characters' real challenge is to get back in the good graces of their girlfriends, "The Twins," who are angry because the Dudes forgot their anniversary. Marla Sokoloff ("The Practice (1997)") and Jennifer Garner ("Pearl Harbor (2001)") play The Twins, respectively, Wanda and Wilma. Like Kutcher and Scott, the two actresses were an instant match. "The first time I read with Marla, we clicked," says Garner. Their chemistry even had some Dude cast and crew believing that the Sokoloff and Garner were actually related. "People on the set kept asking us if we were twins," Sokoloff says, "even though we look nothing alike."

Some members of the Dude production team became dudes in their own right when the film's vernacular infiltrated their speech. They began "double dude-ing" - beginning and ending each sentence with the Dudes' signature word. While the effect wasn't permanent, it did leave a lasting impression. "It's hard for me not to laugh now when I hear someone use that word," Kutcher says.

ASHTON KUTCHER (Jesse) stars as Michael Kelso on the Fox/Carsey Werner hit series 'That 70's Show,' which focuses on the lives of a group of teenage friends in the 1970s.

Kutcher co-stars in the upcoming feature film "Texas Rangers (2001)" opposite James Van Der Beek and Dylan McDermott. Most recently, he was seen as Jim Morrison in "Down To You (2000)" starring Freddie Prinze Jr.. and Julia Stiles. He had a cameo in "Reindeer Games (2000)" starring Ben Affleck and Gary Sinise, directed by John Frankenheimer, and he also appears in the independent feature "Coming Soon" opposite Gaby Hoffmann.

Kutcher was born and raised in Homestead, Iowa (pop.100), where he lived on a farm with his parents, older sister and twin brother. To finance the cost of his education as a bio-chemical engineer at the University of Iowa, Kutcher worked his way through school as a cereal dust sweeper at the General Mills plant in Cedar Rapids. After being discovered by a local model/talent scout, Kutcher moved to New York to pursue his interest in acting. He landed roles in a National Pizza Hut commercial, an NYU student film entitled "Distance," and a CK Jeans campaign.

SEANN WILLIAM SCOTT (Chester) made his feature film debut as part of the ensemble cast of the smash-hit youth comedy "American Pie (1999)," playing Steve Stifler, the party-throwing high school jock. He more recently co-starred in the thriller "Final Destination (2000)" and in the raucous comedy "Road Trip (2000)." (After competing "Road Trip (2000)," Scott embarked on a road trip of his own - a month-long hike throughout Australia.) He next stars in the sci-fi comedy "Evolution," directed by Ivan Reitman, and starring Julianne Moore and David Duchovny.

Raised in Minnesota, Scott decided early on that he wanted to be an actor. Completing high school early, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his career. Scott soon landed roles in the television series 'Something So Right' and 'Sweet Valley High.' He was also featured in the video for Aerosmith's "A Hole In My Soul."

JENNIFER GARNER (Wilma) plays a nurse in the upcoming, epic World War II drama "Pearl Harbor (2001)," starring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale. She stars opposite Scott Foley, Ethan Embry and Peter Facionelli in the independent feature "Rennie's Landing (2001)," which will hit the film festival circuit next year.

Garner's additional feature film credits include "Mr. Magoo (1997)," "Deconstructing Harry (1997)," "1999" and "Washington Square (1997)". She was a regular on the television series "Time Of Your Life" (starring Jennifer Love Hewitt) and the Bright/Kaufman/Krane drama "Significant Others". Garner also had a recurring role on "Felicity." She guest-starred on "Spin City" and "Law and Order", and has been featured in the television films "Rose Hill (1996)," "Dead Man's Walk (1996)," "Zoya" and "Harvest Fire (1996)."

MARLA SOKOLOFF (Wanda) plays the sassy and trouble-making receptionist 'Lucy Hatcher' on the hit series "The Practice." Recently, Sokoloff starred in the feature film "Whatever It Takes (2000)," a modern-day Cyrano de Bergerac tale set in high school. She next will be seen in the dark comedy 'Sugar & Spice (2001)," which depicts the desperate risks a group of high school cheerleaders take to help out a pregnant fellow squad member.

Upon moving to Los Angeles, Sokoloff landed roles on several popular television series, including "Full House," "Party of Five," "Third Rock From the Sun" and "7th Heaven." She also starred in the feature films "The Babysitters Club (1995)" and "True Crime (1999)," and co-starred opposite John Hurt in the dramatic independent movie "The Climb (1970)."

KRISTY SWANSON (Christie) got her first acting job at the age of nine in a commercial for a doll house. By the time she turned 13, Swanson had appeared in over 30 commercials, and landed her first television series, "Dreamfinders," for the Disney Channel. She has since established an extensive list of both television and film credits. Her TV credits include "Grapevine," "Early Edition" and "Knots Landing." For the big-screen, she has starred or co-starred in "Big Daddy (1999)" opposite Adam Sandler, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Higher Learning (1995)," "The Phantom," "Eight Heads in a Duffle Bag ," "The Chase (1913)," "Flowers in the Attic (1987)," "Hot Shots (1991)" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)."

HAL SPARKS (Zoltan (2001)) began his career as a teenager in the famed Chicago-based Second City Troupe. In 1987 he was named the "Funniest Teenager In Chicago" by the Chicago Sun Times.

After a successful run with Second City, Sparks moved to Los Angeles, where he began performing at numerous comedy clubs, as well as at Comic Relief's American Comedy Festival. From 1999-2000, Sparks was the host of the Emmy® winning "Talk Soup."

Sparks has a starring role in "Queer As Folk," a new dramatic Showtime series based on a controversial and critically acclaimed British series. The show centers around a group of gay men living in Pittsburgh.

He also starred in his own sketch comedy pilot entitled "Here Comes The Neighborhood," and he produced comedy segments for the Disney Channel. On the stage, Sparks has performed in such productions as "The Glass Menagerie" and "Brighton Beach Memoirs."

DANNY LEINER (Director) made his film directing debut with the award-winning short "Time Expired (1992)," starring the then-unknown John Leguizamo. The film gave Leiner international exposure, and led to him writing and directing the independent feature "Layin' Low" starring Jeremy Piven and Edie Falco. Leiner then directed "Flashback (1982)," a segment of the CableAce-nominated HBO production "Faces of Addiction ." Following this, he directed and wrote for the acclaimed MTV comedy series "Austin Stories."

During the 1999-2000 television series, Leiner directed episodes of the series "Sports Night," "Freaks and Geeks," "Party of Five," "Action" and "Felicity."

PHILIP STARK (Writer) is in his third season as a writer on the hit Fox television series "That '70s Show." Previously, he was a writer on the comedy series "South Park." The Houston native graduated with a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin.

WAYNE RICE (Producer), a former CPA and self-described "tax guru to the stars," sold his first screenplay, "Most Eligible Bachelor," to Columbia Pictures after passing the script to one of his tax clients. His first produced screenplay, "Only You (1992)," which he also produced, starred Helen Hunt and Kelly Preston. Rice co-wrote and produced "Suicide Kings (1997)" starring Henry Thomas, Jay Mohr, Jeremy Sisto, Sean Patrick Flannery, Denis Leary, and Christopher Walken. His producing credits also include "The Runner (1972)" (with John Goodman, Courteney Cox Arquette, and Joe Montegna), and the David Spade comedy "Lost and Found (2001)."

GIL NETTER (Producer) is partnered with filmmaker David Zucker in Zucker-Netter Productions. For seven years he was president of Zucker Brothers Productions, where he executive produced such films as "My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)," "First Knight (1995)," "Naked Gun 33 1/3 (1994): The Final Insult," "Naked Gun 2 : The Smell of Fear (1991) (" and Fox's "A Walk in the Clouds (1995)."

Netter began his career as a talent/literary agent for The Agency for the Performing Arts. He then became vice president of Chuck Fries Productions and later vice president of Imagine Entertainment.

Robert M. Stevens, ASC (Director of Photography) collaborated with famed cult director John Waters on "Serial Mom (1994)" and "Pecker (1993)." His motion picture credits also include the highly successful comedies "Naked Gun (1956)]" and its sequel "Naked Gun 2 : The Smell of Fear (1991)," director Joe Dante's "The 'burbs (1989)," "Tune In Tomorrow (1990)," "Fear," Delirious (," "Fixing the Shadow " and "Simply Irresistible (1999)."

CHARLES BREEN (Production Designer) studied architecture at the world-renowned art and design school Cranbook. After moving to Los Angeles, he gravitated to the film industry. As an art director, Breen has worked with some of today's most notable directors, including Ridley Scott, Mike Nichols, Richard Attenborough and Walter Hill. In addition, he worked with Barry Levinson on "Disclosure (1994)," Clint Eastwood on "The Bridges of Madison County (1995)" and William Friedkin on "Jade.(1995)"

Breen became a production designer on director Neil LaBute's controversial and critically acclaimed film "Your Friends & Neighbors (1998)." His recent film credits include "Urban Legend (1998)," "She's All That (1999)" and "Nurse Betty (2000)" (directed by Neil LaBute). Breen also designed "The Shrink Is In (2000)" and "Beautiful (2000)."

He was nominated for an Emmy for Best Art Direction on HBO's "Weapons of Mass Destruction (1997).

PAMELA WITHERS (Costume Designer) has worked on four movies directed by the Farrelly Brothers - as costume supervisor on "Dumb and Dumber (1994)" and "Kingpin," assistant costume designer on "There's Something About Mary (1998)," and costume designer on "Me, Myself and Irene (2000)."

Withers began her career working as a wardrobe assistant on Oliver Stone's Oscar®-winning "Born on the Fourth of July (1989)." She served as wardrobe supervisor on the Coen Brothers' comedy "The Big Lebowski (1998)" and was assistant designer on "Paulie," "Thick As Thieves (1999)" and the pilot for the television series "Time of Your Life," starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. She also costume designed the feature "The Suburbans (1998)," as well as the upcoming "Anasazi Moon " and "The Wedding Planner (2001)."

Withers' other credits include set costumer on "Liar, Liar (1997)," "Forget Paris (1995)," "City Slickers (1991) II: The Legend of Curly's Gold " and "Kuffs (1992)." She supervised the wardrobe department on "Last of the High Kings (1996)" and dressed Madonna on two projects: Abel Ferrara's "Dangerous Games" and Uli Edel's "Body of Evidence (1988)."

DAVID KITAY's (Music) feature film credits include "Loser (2000)," "Scary Movie (2000)," "A Night At the Roxbury," "Cant' Hardly Wait (1998)," "Clueless (1995)," "Look Who's Talking (1989)," and "Look Who's Talking Too (1990)." He also wrote the music for the new ABC-TV series "Madigan Men (2000) " and the television film "Mary and Rhoda," for which Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper reprised their roles from the classic 1970s series "Mary Tyler Moore."