American Gangster (2007) Poster


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While filming on-location in the Chiang Mai province of Thailand, Ridley Scott hired many extras from the local villages, some of whom were actual participants in the drug-running operation of Frank Lucas during the Vietnam War.
Not only did the real Richie Roberts serve as Frank Lucas's lawyer after he went into private practice, he was godfather to Lucas's son.
Russell Crowe requested tape recordings of Richie Roberts speaking in order to match his voice mannerisms accurately.
Frank Lucas and Richie Roberts were on-set consultants to director Ridley Scott and the crew throughout filming.
James Gandolfini was offered the role of Detective Trupo, but turned it down.
Ridley Scott recalls that this production was one of the most massive undertakings of his career. There were 360 scenes filmed in over 180 different locations.
In the Madison Garden Sequence, only 650 of the spectators on camera were real extras, the other 1500 were inflatable dummies.
Antoine Fuqua was originally set to direct this project in 2004 with Denzel Washington and Benicio Del Toro starring, but production was halted one month before shooting after Universal Pictures canceled the film over budget concerns. However, Washington and Del Toro received their salaries nonetheless. A pay-or-play deal was stipulated in both of their contracts that Universal would pay Washington $20 million and Del Toro $5 million regardless of whether the film was made or not. Once this project was green-lit by Universal a second time, under Ridley Scott's direction, Washington returned to the project without an upfront fee. He also received half of his $20 million salary for the previous year's Inside Man (2006), another Imagine Entertainment production.
Russell Crowe and Brad Pitt were director Ridley Scott and producer Brian Grazer's first two choices to portray Richie Roberts.
In the much-forgotten sci-fi action thriller, Virtuosity (1995), Denzel Washington starred as a heroic policeman while a then-unknown Russell Crowe was cast as the villain.
David Fincher was interested in making the film back when the script was still titled "Superfly", but he and the studio could not agree on an appropriate budget for the film.
Will Smith was an alternate choice to play Frank Lucas.
Even though he plays his father, Common is only eight years older than T.I. in real life.
The story was first inspired by an article in New York Magazine written by Mark Jacobson. He was introduced to the real Frank Lucas by author Nicholas Pileggi. Not long afterwards, Pileggi encouraged Steven Zaillian to write an adaptation of Jacobson's article. While Zaillian was working on this, producer Brian Grazer bought the rights to the project.
In the late 1980s, screenwriter Thomas Lee Wright wrote an outline of The Godfather: Part III (1990) for Francis Ford Coppola. Included in Wright's version was a character based off of famed Harlem gangster, Leroy 'Nicky' Barnes (portrayed by Cuba Gooding Jr. in this film). During the time that Coppola was considering this idea, Wright discussed the role with Eddie Murphy, who immediately accepted the role without reading a script.
Director Ridley Scott had read the first draft of Steven Zaillian's screenplay before filming Kingdom of Heaven (2005) and instantly became interested in directing it. While filming his next feature, A Good Year (2006), Scott and Russell Crowe extensively discussed the project, which ultimately led to them signing on.
50 Cent auditioned for the role of Huey Lucas.
Screenwriter Terry George was brought on to rewrite the script in order to downsize the project's budget to $50 million when it was first revitalized in March 2005. George had planned on reuniting with his Hotel Rwanda (2004) lead, Don Cheadle, to portray Frank Lucas. After George's screenplay was turned down, Steven Zaillian was re-hired to write another draft of his own screenplay.
When director Antoine Fuqua was attached to the project, he pursued Ray Liotta and John C. Reilly for supporting roles. This was one of many budget-related concerns that lead to Universal's cancellation of this production while it was under Fuqua's management.
This is Ridley Scott & Denzel Washington first film collaboration together. Ironically, Washington did five film collaborations with Ridley's late younger brother Tony Scott.
During the very first stages of production, this film had a number of different titles, such as "Tru Blu" and "The Return of Superfly".
Peter Berg met briefly with producers to direct this and was given the okay by Denzel Washington.
When Terry George was set to direct the film with Don Cheadle as Frank Lucas, Joaquin Phoenix was a definite consideration for the role of Richie Roberts. Phoenix previously co-starred with Russell Crowe in Gladiator (2000), which was also directed by Ridley Scott.
Clarence Williams III portrays the character Bumpy Johnson. In the film Hoodlum (1997), Clarence goes head to ahead with Bumpy Johnson (portrayed by Laurence Fishburne) as the character Bub Hewlett.
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The film cast includes four Oscar winners: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Common; and four Oscar nominees: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ruby Dee, John Hawkes and Josh Brolin.
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The car driven by Richie Roberts is a Volkswagen 1600 Variant (Type 3). There was a dual-carbureted, air-cooled engine installed underneath the rear trunk.
Ridley Scott previously directed Russell Crowe in Gladiator (2000) and A Good Year (2006).
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Filming duration: 83 days = 78 in USA + 5 in Thailand.
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Chiwetel Ejiofor (Huey Lucas) and John Ortiz (Javier Rivera) both went on to play Othello on stage: Ejiofor in 2007 in London and Ortiz in 2009 in New York City.
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Dania Ramirez was originally cast in the film when Antoine Fuqua was still directing the production.
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Denzel Washington and Roger Guenveur Smith appeared together in Malcolm X (1992).
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Ray Liotta was originally a choice for the role of Richie Roberts
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Clarence Williams III:  uncredited as Ellsworth 'Bumpy' Johnson. Williams was in another Harlem crime drama, Hoodlum (1997), which was about 'Bumpy' Johnson. In that, he played gangster 'Bub' Hewlett.


The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

Any time Frank Lucas pours an excess amount of sugar while at a restaurant, it is a sign/code to his body guards present throughout the restaurant to keep a close eye on him.

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