IMDb > Primal Fear (1996)
Primal Fear
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Primal Fear (1996) More at IMDbPro »

Photos (See all 35 | slideshow) Videos (see all 6)
Primal Fear -- Richard Gere stars as Martin Vail, a famed defense lawyer who volunteers his services to Aaron Stampler (Edward Norton), a Kentucky teenager charged with the murder of a Chicago archbishop.
Primal Fear -- A high profile lawyer defends a man accused of murdering an Archbishop
Primal Fear -- Clip: Not guilty
Primal Fear -- Clip: Roy
Primal Fear -- Clip: You know who I am?


User Rating:
7.7/10   119,600 votes »
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Writers (WGA):
William Diehl (novel)
Steve Shagan (screenplay) ...
View company contact information for Primal Fear on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
3 April 1996 (USA) See more »
Sooner or later a man who wears two faces forgets which one is real. See more »
An altar boy is accused of murdering a priest, and the truth is buried several layers deep. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for Oscar. Another 13 wins & 7 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
The Smartest Guy In Town See more (238 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Richard Gere ... Martin Vail

Laura Linney ... Janet Venable

John Mahoney ... Shaughnessy

Alfre Woodard ... Shoat

Frances McDormand ... Molly

Edward Norton ... Aaron

Terry O'Quinn ... Bud Yancy

Andre Braugher ... Tommy Goodman

Steven Bauer ... Joey Pinero

Joe Spano ... Abel Stenner

Tony Plana ... Martinez

Stanley Anderson ... Archbishop Rushman

Maura Tierney ... Naomi Chance

Jon Seda ... Alex

Reg Rogers ... Jack Connerman

Kenneth Tigar ... Weil
Brian Reddy ... Woodside
Christopher Carroll ... M.C.
Wendy Cutler ... Lou
Ron O.J. Parson ... Turner
Sigrid K. Zahner ... Vail's Secretary

Diann Burns ... WLS Anchor
Linda Yu ... WLS Anchor
Andy Shaw ... WLS Location Reporter
Mary Ann Childers ... WBBM Anchor
Lester Holt ... WBBM Anchor (as Lester D. Holt)
Sylvia Gomez ... WBBM Location Reporter
Jon Duncanson ... WBBM Location Reporter
David Eckert ... WGN Anchor
Robert Jordan ... WGN Anchor
Joanie Lum ... WGN Location Reporter
Randy Salerno ... WGN Location Reporter

Kyle Colerider-Krugh ... Postman

Joseph Luis Caballero ... Joe
Randall Slavin ... Young Boy

Mike Bacarella ... Sergeant

Turk Muller ... Precinct Jailer
Joseph F. Kosala ... Cop (as Joe Kosala)

Lenny Wilson ... Bartender
Peter Schreiner ... Bailiff
Joseph R. Ryan ... Old Man
Azalea Davila ... Linda
Wayne Wright ... Court Clerk
Tony Fitzpatrick ... Duty Officer
Clarence Williams Jr. ... Arresting Cop
Rosalie V. Lewis ... Stenographer
Dwight Brad Dyer ... Prison Guard
Larry Cook ... Pilot
Bob Kenney ... Pilot
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Antonio Bardales ... Choirboy (uncredited)

Mike Boss ... Cop (uncredited)

Directed by
Gregory Hoblit 
Writing credits
William Diehl (novel)

Steve Shagan (screenplay) and
Ann Biderman (screenplay)

Produced by
Patricia Graf .... associate producer
Hawk Koch .... executive producer (as Howard W. Koch Jr.)
Gary Lucchesi .... producer
Robert McMinn .... co-producer
Arnold Rudnick .... associate producer
Original Music by
James Newton Howard 
Cinematography by
Michael Chapman (director of photography)
Film Editing by
David Rosenbloom 
Casting by
Deborah Aquila 
Jane Shannon-Smith  (as Jane Shannon)
Production Design by
Jeannine Oppewall 
Art Direction by
William Arnold 
Set Decoration by
Cindy Carr 
Costume Design by
Betsy Cox 
Makeup Department
Hallie D'Amore .... key makeup artist
Sterfon Demings .... hair stylist
Elle Elliott .... hair stylist
Margaret E. Elliott .... makeup artist (as Margaret Elliott)
Kathrine Gordon .... hair stylist
Tom Lucas .... makeup artist: Mr. Gere
Carol Meikle .... hair stylist: Mr. Gere
Jeffrey Sacino .... key hair stylist (as Jeffrey M. Sacino)
Art Anthony .... special makeup effects: Chicago (uncredited)
Production Management
Robert Grand .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Xochi Blymyer .... second second assistant director
J. Stephen Buck .... first assistant director
Gary B. Goldman .... second second assistant director: Chicago (as Gary Goldman)
Randall Newsome .... second second assistant director: Chicago
Lucille OuYang .... second assistant director
Sharon Swab .... dga trainee
Art Department
Paul V. Allen Sr. .... set dresser: Chicago (as Paul Allen)
Randolph W. Andell .... assistant property master
P. Scott Bailey .... set dresser (as Scott Bailey)
Julie Brooke Beattie .... set dresser (as Julie Beattie)
Louisa Bonnie .... set designer
Mary A. Brady .... set dresser: Chicago (as Mary Brady)
Javier Carrillo .... propmaker foreperson
Daniel B. Clancy .... leadperson: Chicago
Francis N. 'Lucky' Costello .... painter (as Frank 'Lucky' Costello)
Jon Danniells .... lead man
Dave DeGaetano .... construction coordinator
Edward England .... construction coordinator: Chicago
Andrew P. Flores .... paint foreperson (as Andy Flores)
Joanna Gilliam .... set dresser
Robert M. Hagman .... propmaker foreperson (as Bob Hagman)
Aaron C. Holden Jr. .... assistant property master: Chicago
Jack Johnson .... production illustrator
Robert Kelter .... paint foreperson: Chicago (as Robert J. Kelter)
Erin Kemp .... set designer
Keith A. Kropf .... location foreman (as Keith Kropf)
Robin Laughlin .... paint foreperson (as Bob Laughlin)
Kacy Magedman .... art department coordinator
Quentin Matthys .... set dresser: Chicago
Steven B. Melton .... property master
Tom Osman .... art department coordinator: Chicago
Tyler Osman .... propmaker foreperson: Chicago
Tyler Patton .... set dresser
Walter J. Piers .... set dresser: Chicago (as Walter Piers)
Mark Poll .... set designer
Joel Prihoda .... labor foreperson: Chicago
Steven Rigamat .... propmaker foreperson (as Steven W. Rigamat)
Paul Stanwyck .... head scenic painter
William Tessaro .... location foreman (as Bill Tessaro)
Suzan Wexler .... assistant art director
Tim Wilp .... head painter: Chicago (as Timothy W. Wilp)
Ken Abraham .... set dresser (uncredited)
Anthony Joseph Fatigato .... painter (uncredited)
Sean Hood .... swing gang (uncredited)
William Lakoff .... set dresser (uncredited)
Michael W. Moore .... prop maker (uncredited)
Jeff O'Bannon .... laborer (uncredited)
Troy Osman .... construction foreman (uncredited)
Eric Yount .... carpenter (uncredited)
Sound Department
Bob Baron .... adr mixer
Pamela Bentkowski .... supervising foley editor (as Pam Bentkowski)
Steve Cantamessa .... sound mixer
Kevin E. Carpenter .... sound re-recording mixer
Anne Couk .... assistant sound editor
Joe Dorn .... supervising adr editor
Patrick J. Foley .... dialogue editor (as Patrick Foley)
Bruce Fortune .... supervising sound editor
Cameron Frankley .... sound effects editor
Dana LeBlanc Frankley .... apprentice sound editor (as Dana LeBlanc)
Marilyn Graf .... foley mixer
Jeffrey J. Haboush .... sound re-recording mixer
Robin Harlan .... foley artist
Scott La Rue .... cable person (as Scott LaRue)
Courtenay Marvin .... assistant sound editor
Anthony Milch .... sound effects editor (as Tony Milch)
Sarah Monat .... foley artist
Jeffrey R. Payne .... dialogue editor (as Jeff Payne)
Carin Rogers .... supervising dialogue editor
Robert Schaper .... sound re-recording mixer
Randy Singer .... foley mixer
Thomas W. Small .... foley editor (as Thomas Small)
Greg Stacy .... sound effects editor
Mike Szakmeister .... dialogue editor
Gary Thomas .... boom operator
Bill Ward .... assistant sound editor
Daryl Ziemke .... utility sound: Chicago
Matt Colleran .... transfer recordist (uncredited)
Mark L. Mangino .... dialogue editor (uncredited)
Ron Meredith .... assistant sound editor (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Don Riozz McNichols .... special effects: Chicago (as Donald Rio McNichols)
Matthew W. Mungle .... special effects makeup (as Matthew Mungle)
Tom Ryba .... special effects coordinator: Chicago (as Thomas P. Ryba)
Visual Effects by
Rob Burton .... visual effects supervisor: DQI
Mark Galvin .... visual effects executive producer: DQI
Mike Gunning .... visual effects producer: DQI
Michael S. Harbour .... 3D church modeling: Dream Quest Images
Michael S. Harbour .... 3D church rendering: Dream Quest Images (as Michael Harbour)
Rory Hinnen .... data management
Jen Howard .... digital artist: Dream Quest Images
Rick Lopez .... output technician: DQI
Rick Lopez .... scanning: DQI
John Murrah .... technical supervisor: Dream Quest Images
Lanier Edwards .... stunts
Rick Le Fevour .... stunts
Ray Lykins .... stunts
Ernie F. Orsatti .... stunt coordinator (as Ernie Orsatti)
Noon Orsatti .... stunts
Denney Pierce .... stunts
Scott Blackwood .... stunt double (uncredited)
Tom Lowell .... stunts (uncredited)
Carl Paoli .... stunt double: Richard Gere (uncredited)
Linda Perlin .... stunts (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Patric J. Abaravich .... best boy electric (as Patric Abaravich)
Audie Aragon .... dolly grip (as Audi Aragon)
Jeff Beebe .... grip
Alphonse Blumenthal .... assistant chief lighting technician: Chicago
Tom Bookout .... grip (as Thomas Bookout)
George W. Borthwick .... grip (as George Wells Borthwick)
David Boyd .... second camera operator
Steve Bradarich .... video playback operator: Chicago
Mark Burnett .... video assist operator
Paul Caven .... electrician (as Paul 'Bones' Caven)
Chris Collins .... second assistant camera: Chicago
Armando Contreras .... grip
Gerrit Dangremond .... camera operator: Chicago
Ben Felthouse .... rigging electrician
Chris Freres .... second company grip: Chicago
Scot Gaal .... assistant chief rigging lighting technician (as Scott Gaal)
Joe Gallo .... electrician (as Joseph Gallo)
Bill Guerre .... rigging electrician (as William Guerre)
Michael R. Gurasich .... second assistant camera (as Michael Gurasich)
Steven Hiller .... first assistant camera: Chicago
Frank M. Holgate .... aerial camera operator: Chicago (as Frank Holgate)
John Hudecek .... dolly grip: Chicago
Kenji Inouye .... second company grip
Frederick Irving .... electrician (as Frederick E. Irving)
Gina Isaacs .... electrician
Ed Jackson .... second company rigging grip (as Edward A. Jackson)
William T. Jones .... first company rigging grip (as Wm. T. 'Jake' Jones)
Greg Kittelson .... electrician
Tommy Klines .... second assistant camera
Jono Kouzouyan .... chief lighting technician
Morgan Michael Lewis .... first company grip: Chicago
Anthony J. Lullo .... assistant chief lighting technician: Chicago (as Anthony Lullo)
Mark Marcum .... video supervisor
Donald Navarrete .... rigging electrician
Ron Phillips .... still photographer
R. Bruce Prochal .... chief rigging lighting technician (as Bruce Prochal)
Bill Roe .... camera operator
Rodney Sandoval .... camera loader
Brett Santucci .... grip
Steven Silverstein .... second assistant camera: Chicago
Mark Simon .... camera operator: Chicago
Michael 'Dutch' Van Woert .... assistant chief lighting technician (as 'Dutch' Van Woert)
Zoran Veselic .... first assistant camera
John Waldo .... second assistant camera: Chicago
Thomas E. Whalen .... video assist operator: Chicago
Sandy Williams .... first company grip (as Walter 'Sandy' Williams)
Ignacio Woolfolk .... rigging grip
David Norris .... camera technician: Wescam camera (uncredited)
Casting Department
Tony Hobbs .... extras casting: Central/Cennex Casting
Tracy Kaplan .... casting: Chicago
DeVera Marcus .... voice casting (as Dee Marcus)
Karen Miller .... casting associate
Karen Peake .... extras casting: Chicago
Alex Wald .... casting assistant (as Alex Rosenberg)
Tricia Wood .... casting assistant
Patti Carns Kalles .... casting: Seattle (uncredited)
Jason James .... casting: Seattle (uncredited)
Regina Prokop .... extras casting coordinator (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Lori DeLapp .... costumer (as Lori McClellen)
Kimberly Guenther Durkin .... costume supervisor (as Kimberly Guenther)
Elaine Perlmann .... costumer (as Elaine Davis)
Gary J. Saldutti .... costumer
Adrienne Wait .... costumer
Heather Pollock .... set costumer (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Jana Lynn Gold .... assistant film editor
Phil Hetos .... color timer
Douglas Kunin .... assistant film editor
Farrel Levy .... additional editor (as Farrel Jane Levy)
Skip Macdonald .... assistant film editor
Wendi Jill Raderman .... assistant film editor
Theresa Repola Mohammed .... negative cutter
Music Department
Terence Blanchard .... musician: horn solos
Brad Dechter .... orchestrator
Sandy DeCrescent .... orchestra contractor (as Sandy De Crescent)
James Newton Howard .... orchestrator
Artie Kane .... conductor
Jo Ann Kane .... music preparation
Tom Kramer .... preview music editor
Michael Mason .... music scoring coordinator
Shawn Murphy .... score mixer
Shawn Murphy .... score recordist
David Olson .... assistant music editor
J. Peter Robinson .... composer: incidental source music
Jim Weidman .... music editor
John Beal .... composer: trailer (uncredited)
Denise Carver .... music consultant (uncredited)
Frank Macchia .... music preparation (uncredited)
Michael Mason .... score co-producer (uncredited)
James Thatcher .... musician: French horn (uncredited)
Transportation Department
Steve Brodsky .... transportation coordinator (as Steven Brodsky)
Michael P. Deal .... transportation captain: Chicago
Craig Fehrman .... transportation captain
James Hogan .... transportation captain: Chicago (as James A. Hogan)
Thaddeus E. Larkowski .... transportation coordinator: Chicago
Gaston Veilleux .... transportation captain
Robert Wallace .... driver (uncredited)
Other crew
Rashied Aljuwani .... craft service
Dana Armonda .... production assistant: Chicago
Jacolyn Baker .... location manager: Chicago (as Jacolyn J. Baker)
Jeffrey Berk .... assistant production coordinator
Jeanne Bischoff .... legal technical advisor
Michele Bock .... production assistant
Robert Breech .... legal technical advisor
Raymond Bulinski .... craft service: Chicago
Douglas M. Cambell .... craft service (as Doug Campbell)
Michael Elyanow .... assistant: Mr. Hoblit
Leslie Anne Engel .... production assistant: Chicago (as Leslie Engel)
Orlando García .... chef (as Orlando Garcia)
George Gonzalez .... chef helper
Patricia Graf .... assistant: Mr. Hoblit
Jennifer Greenfield .... assistant: Mr. Gere
Julie Herman .... production assistant: Chicago
James C. Hoffman .... production assistant
Rachel Hudgins .... assistant: Mr. Gere
Steve Hurley .... legal technical advisor (as Stephen Hurley)
Christine Hurrey .... payroll auditor
Pamela Jaeckle .... production coordinator
Brendan Kennedy .... assistant: Mr. Koch Jr.
Emily Koch .... assistant: Mr. Lucchesi
Scott R. Kowalchyk .... production assistant (as Scott Kowalchyk)
Robyn L. Kreger .... assistant: Mr. Koch Jr. (as Robyn Kreger)
Kevin Landry .... production auditor (as Kevin E. Landry)
Matt Luber .... assistant: Mr. Lucchesi
Mark Mamalakis .... assistant location manager: Chicago
Leslie Mikol .... production assistant: Chicago
Fae Moore .... production assistant
Gerald F. Nichols .... production assistant: Chicago
Phill Norman .... title designer
Sandy O'Neill .... unit publicist
Lisa J. Olin .... legal clearances
Jesus Padillo .... chef helper (as Jesus Padilla)
John Panzarella .... location manager
Brian C. Pawlowski .... production assistant: Chicago (as Brian Pawlowski)
John Rash .... assistant production auditor
John Redmond .... police technical advisor
Sharron Reynolds .... script supervisor (as Sharron Reynolds-Enriquez)
Jeff Richman .... production assistant: Chicago
Jessica Sandler .... production assistant
Gene Strange .... assistant production auditor
Leslie Thorson .... assistant location manager
Robert H. Turlington .... production assistant (as Robert Turlington)
Bekki Vallin .... assistant production coordinator: Chicago
Carolyn White .... assistant production coordinator (as Carolyn J. White)
Laurel Wolowic .... production assistant: Chicago
Frank Catalano .... adr (uncredited)
William M. DeLuca .... mechanic (uncredited)
James R. McAllister .... location assistant (uncredited)
Carol Riggins .... animal trainer (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated R for brief grisly violence, pervasive strong language and a sex scene
129 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

According to the Blu-ray behind-the-scenes information, the original rough cut of the film ran 3 hrs 15 min, including more detailed exposition of Aaron's small-town country life and discussions with his former junior high school teacher. The scenes were cut partly for running time and partly to avoid the producers 'tipping their hand" and alerting the audience to the ultimate ending.See more »
Continuity: At the original interview, Dr. Molly asks Aaron "How did you meet?" and then she asks "What was the relationship like?". When Marty is watching the interview tape, Dr. Molly, after asking "How did you meet?" says "Doing what?".See more »
[first lines]
Marty:On my first day of law school, my professor says two things. First was; "From this day forward, when your mother tells you she loves you - get a second opinion."
Jack Connerman:[chuckles] And?
Marty:"If you want justice, go to a whorehouse. If you wanna get fucked, go to court."
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in In Bruges (2008)See more »
Introitus: Cibavit EosSee more »


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45 out of 49 people found the following review useful.
The Smartest Guy In Town, 27 September 2008
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York

Although Richard Gere has one of his juiciest roles in Primal Fear, the best performance by far is that of Edward Norton who got the film's only Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a stunning debut picture. It's the kind of debut that any player would like to make and the trick is to keep up a high standard you've already set for yourself. Which Norton to his credit certainly has in his career.

But as to Gere he plays Martin Vail, a top criminal defense attorney who will let everyone know it if they haven't figured it out. It's a tricky part because a guy this arrogant has to maintain some kind of surface likability or else you'd never believe he'd ever win a case in front of a jury. As for movie viewers they must have a rooting interest for him as well. But Gere's definitely a guy who they make lawyer jokes about.

A young altar boy has murdered the archbishop of Chicago, a mush mouth kid with a Kentucky twang played by Edward Norton. He's part of a choir of street kids that the Chicago archdiocese shows off on many an occasion. It was a particularly brutal murder, multiple stabbings and the carving of a cryptic message in the chest of the deceased.

Gere makes no bones about it, he's wanting this case because of the headlines it will bring him. But when F. Lee Bailey or Johnnie Cochran offers to defend you for nothing, you don't ask questions.

Which brings us to Norton who has you might have gathered is not all he seems. He's a street kid and he's used to getting over on people himself. It's one of the darkest characters ever done on screen, maybe a bit too dark for Academy tastes. That might have been the reason that Cuba Gooding beat out Norton for Best Supporting Actor with his much lighter role in Jerry Maguire.

One in this film you will notice are Laura Linney as the Assistant District Attorney who Gere was once involved with and is getting a lot of pressure to bring in a guilty verdict for understandable political reasons. I also liked Alfre Woodard as the very patient judge at Norton's trial and Frances McDormand as the psychiatrist who examines Norton.

If you think you've figured out what's behind Primal Fear, rest assured you haven't from this description. Let's just say everyone gets good and played here.

Which brings to mind the dedication for this review. Gere's attorney character is likable, but arrogant. Back in the day I knew an attorney who was arrogant without any real reason for the arrogance. He'd love to have been Richard Gere, I'm sure he saw himself that way. So to you Ron D'Angelo this review is dedicated to.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (238 total) »

Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for Primal Fear (1996)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Questions about ending-spoilers blondepittbull
Sick and sad message oregondanne
Who was the 'real' Aaron? ddb540
Tagline on two faced people doesn't really apply to Aaron - query beautifulyou
Please help settle silly debate (SPOILER) runice
Meaning of the title...? mattdavefenton
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