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‘Defendor’ in a Class All Its Own

23 Feb, 2010 By: Chris Tribbey

LOS ANGELES — Defendor is a hilarious look at a delusional, not-all-there man’s attempt to become a superhero, taking on crime bosses and corrupt cops with lime juice and small bottles of angry wasps.

It’s truly an underdog story, in which one man tries to make a difference in a dark world where most everyone doesn’t seem to care. It stars Woody Harrelson, who delivers a wonderful performance as the “hero” Arthur Poppington, fighting crime with few resources and zero training, all while befriending a crack-head hooker and trying to come to terms with his place in society.

It’s also a film that was almost never made.

Speaking before a crowd screening the film Feb. 22, producer Nicholas Tabarrok told how funding for the film fell apart in 2008, after Harrelson had attached himself to the project. Instead of jumping ship, the actor, with prompting from his agent, stuck on for the next six months until Defendor found financing again.

“Woody Harrelson and his agent helped keep this film afloat,” Tabarrok said. “And thank you, Sony, for making this all possible.”

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment streets the film on DVD April 13 at $24.96, adding a commentary with the filmmakers, Harrelson and actress Kat Dennings, outtakes, deleted scenes and five featurettes.

Michael Helfand, SVP of business affairs for Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group, said Harrelson’s performance was the clincher when the studio was debating whether to acquire the film.

“We picked it up out of the Toronto Film Festival, and it was because of the great casting and tone and nature of the film,” Helfand said. “[Harrelson] really sparked to the material, and hung with it until they pulled together financing.”

Harrelson said it was the underlying innocence of his character that drew him to Defendor.

“Defendor was one of the most original, heartwarming, wonderful stories,” Harrelson said about what drew him to the film when he read the script. “It beautifully rides this line between comedy and drama, so I was already wildly impressed.”

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