Film-maker Kevin Connolly, best known for playing the sane friend, Eric, in HBO's hit series Entourage, found time from his acting career to direct Gardener Of Eden, a small indie comedy about a New Jersey ne'er-do-well who is pushed to become a local hero after he accidentally captures a serial rapist.
While Connolly's busy Los Angeles-based career is distant from the Long Island village in which he grew up, he recalls that small-town claustrophobia portrayed in the film, the 'sense you are so close to the city, you could drive there, but in reality you are trapped with the same kids now eight years out of high school'.
'I had always wanted to direct and was reading a lot of scripts,' remembers Connolly. He came upon Adam 'Tex' Davis's script in 2001 doing a table read for Leonardo DiCaprio's production company Appian Way. 'What I liked was its style of genre bending; you can call it a dark comedy, but in many ways it is not a comedy at all,' Connolly reflects.
While Gardener Of Eden is his first feature, Connolly established himself as a film-making talent through a series of shorts, including his 2003 Sundance film Whatever We Do (with Robert Downey Jr and Tim Roth).
With Appian Way developing Gardener Of Eden, Connolly stepped in to direct. And after a period of negotiation, Initial Entertainment Group agreed to finance the project.
In casting Lukas Haas as the protagonist, Connolly admits, 'I needed a partner in crime as the lead actor. You don't have a lot of takes, so you don't want to miss anything.' The two have been friends since 1992, when they appeared together in the film Alan & Naomi.
With the finance and cast in place, Connolly still had to hustle to work around his busy Entourage schedule. In November 2005, the film crew shot 42 locations in their 27-day schedule, most of it in New York to take advantage of the state's tax credit. But no sooner had Connolly got the film in the can, he was needed on the Entourage set in January 2006, and was not able to return to editing the film until seven months later.