FACTBOX- "W." actors went for "feel-alike" not caricatures

Fri Oct 10, 2008 8:21am EDT

(Reuters) - Director Oliver Stone's film portrait of U.S. President George W. Bush, "W.", traces his transformation from a hard-drinking college student to a man who found faith, won the most powerful job in the world and took the United States to war with Iraq.

The rare film portrait of a sitting U.S. president lured a diverse cast to play real-life characters. Stone said the actors were not meant to be "look-alikes" but "feel-alikes."

Following are some key quotes from the actors on how they approached their task.

JOSH BROLIN (President George W. Bush)

"Initially I said no ... The fact that Oliver Stone was even seeing any kind of connection between me and Bush was slightly insulting. (But after reading the script) I was taken aback, moved by it, impassioned, because I was saddened by it. And above all I identified with it."

ELIZABETH BANKS (Bush's wife, Laura)

"We decided, based on the research we had done, that the Bushes are very much in love ... She was on my iPod and I listened to her in my car a lot. Once I got the wig and clothes and the hips and the voice ... it sparked something inside to help me play her."

JAMES CROMWELL (President George H.W. Bush)

"I couldn't find a handle on this guy because I had a lot of judgement on him ... The important thing is the relationship between my character and his son. You are not going to see George Herbert Walker Bush but you are going to understand the dynamic between father and son."

THANDIE NEWTON (Condoleezza Rice)

"I can't think of any person I've played who is more different than me. The best stuff was looking on YouTube and seeing all the movies of her when she didn't realise she was being watched. What I was trying to find was the person between the one we see at press conferences and the one at home brushing her teeth in the morning."

SCOTT GLENN (Donald Rumsfeld)

"I have trouble playing someone I don't like on some level so I said to everyone I met who knew him, 'Tell me the best things about Don Rumsfeld.' I found he had a great sense of humour and a deep sense of honour."

RICHARD DREYFUSS (Dick Cheney)

"There is a bit of Cheney in all of us and it is the actor's job to bring it out appropriately. Because there is such a wealth of video about this guy, it is not hard to find."

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bill Trott)