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Lukas Haas: Vigilante

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In Gardener of Eden, a whip-smart directorial debut from Entourage star Kevin Connolly, Lukas Haas plays Adam, an asinine and utterly American character: a 25-year-old Jersey boy who got kicked out of college for patronizing a prostitute and now lives at home with his parents, aimless. “At first he’s kind of, like, fuzzy,” Haas mumbles, practically in character. Adam is the slacker flip-side of the Entourage crew, drinking with his buds and going nowhere until one night he gets drunk and beats up a stranger who turns out to be a wanted rapist. Praised as a hero, Adam finds his calling as a vigilante who roots out the evil weeds (their metaphor, not ours) of the Garden State. It doesn’t go well. Connolly’s film evolves into a relentless satire of a generation weaned on post-Vietnam vigilante movies—from Dirty Harry to, yes, Spider-Man—but it works because Haas never goes for the easy joke. “My take was just, make this guy a real person,” says Haas, a pal of Connolly’s and co-producer Leonardo DiCaprio’s. “What kind of a person is he that makes him flip like that?” Instead of angling for broad laughs, the former child actor plays his role with the same kind of foot-shuffling sincerity he recently brought to Last Days or, 22 years ago, Witness. “The script does have these moments where you could think he’s either just stupid or crazy, but he’s not totally nuts. I needed to make him as real a person as I could, even if the circumstances were extreme.”


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