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Nine Screenwriter Michael Tolkin on Why There Are So Many Famous People in His Movie

Standing on the red carpet at last night's Nine premiere, every few seconds one could hear the sounds of lavish praise being heaped upon the singing abilities of stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Penélope Cruz, Kate Hudson, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren, and Judi Dench. Screenwriter Michael Tolkin: "We saw the biggest stars in the world auditioning, and what was amazing was to see how much phenomenal musical-comedy talent there was in the world." Director Rob Marshall: "I'm overwhelmed by this cast every day. Daniel, the brilliant genius of all time, who knew he had those gifts?" Mentioning that some critics have disagreed with the notion of the cast as natural crooners is met with shock and disbelief. "The last thing I'm going to do is go along with anyone who says that," said an aghast Tolkin. "I disagree with that wholeheartedly."

Okay, okay, they're naturals. But you know who else are naturals? Professional Broadway musical actors. But as Tolkin points out, you try putting the name of a budding Broadway star on a marquee in December, and see who shows up to the red carpet. "I'll tell you what you should do," he says. "When Rob comes by, stick out a foot, trip him, and when Rob is down on the ground, ask him that question: 'Why didn’t you cast nobodies in these parts?' Tell him I told you to do it. Come on! This is too great. Look at these people! It’s amazing."

See all the stars at the premiere in our Party Lines slideshow.

Photo: Patrick McMullan