Devil’s Advocate is a 1997 film that follows a no-loss criminal defence attorney after he’s offered a high-end job at a New York City law firm. Kevin Lomax, played by Keanu Reeves, begins to have devilish apparitions while working beneath his new boss, John Milton played by Al Pacino. Directed by Taylor Hackford and written by Tony Gilroy, Jonathan Lemkin and Andrew Neiderman; the themes of this movie are clear, vanity, gluttony and what people are willing to do to acquire excessive wealth. Check out the screen facts of Devil’s Advocate below.
Al Pacino’s Hesitation
The film was originally meant to be visual effects oriented and closer to a blockbuster movie. For this reason, Al Pacino turned down the role of John Milton five times. Kevin Spacey and Richard Gere were also considered for the role. Taylor Hackford orchestrated numerous script rewrites and then offered it to Pacino again. He admitted that he liked it more, but thought he couldn’t portray Milton well enough. Pacino suggested Sir Sean Connery or Robert Redford for the role.
Ironically, Pacino ended up winning Best Actor for the Saturn Award and the Chainsaw Award. He took a risk with this role and it paid off.
Inspired by Real Life
In order to prepare for this role, Keanu Reeves spent time around real defense attorneys in New York City. In addition, Alex Cullen’s home was inspired by a real financier and Wall Street villain: Donald Trump. The private residential multi-level apartment at the Trump Tower was used to provide a familiar New York City backdrop.
Charlize Theron also spent time preparing for her part. In New York City, she would meet with a psycho-therapist to “practice schizophrenia” for one hour a day over the three month shooting period.
Outdoor Patio Shot
At one point in the movie, John Milton shows Kevin Lomax his outdoor patio. It has no railings stopping someone from falling over the edge. The patio actually exists on the fiftieth floor of a New York City building. The stage was merely eight feet away from the edge of the deathly patio. Many thought this was a blue or green screen shot, but the actors were really standing on the edge.
John Milton’s character was named after the author of Paradise Lost, a classic epic about man’s fall from God’s grace. More specifically, a poem about the biblical story of the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel, Satan, and their rejection from the Garden of Eden. Themes of heaven and hell, right and wrong and choosing your fate are clear in the Devil’s Advocate making the Milton reference clever. At one point, Pacino says in the film, “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven,” which is a quote from Paradise Lost Book I. To prepare for the role, Pacino reportedly read the book too.
Keanu & Charlize
In this movie, Lomax and his wife, Mary Ann, are meant to be close in age. In actuality, Keanu Reeves was 31 and Charlize Theron was 21 during filming. A few years later, they would star as a couple again in the film, Sweet November, which was released in 2001.