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Keanu Reeves as
Bob Arctor / Fred / Bruce

Arctor is an undercover detective who works at the local Police Station. Arctor tries to blend in with his housemates Barris and Luckman, becoming addicted to “Substance D” in the process.

As the film progresses Arctor suffers the effects of being addicted to the drug, and his mind breaks down to the point where he can no longer determine what is fact and what is fiction.

In his role as detective Fred, Arctor wears a scramble suit to hide his true identity. As part of the rehabilitation program, Arctor is renamed Bruce and put through psychological reconditioning treatments.

Robert Downey, Jr. as James Barris
A drug addict who lives with Arctor and Luckman. Barris is manipulative in his behaviour towards the other members of the group and he appears to have his own agenda.

Woody Harrelson as Ernie Luckman
Luckman is a drug addict who lives with Arctor and Barris. Luckman is the most laid-back member of the group.

Winona Ryder as
Donna Hawthorne / Audrey / Hank

Donna is a low-level drug dealer who supplies Arctor with “Substance D”. At the film's conclusion it is revealed that Donna is really an undercover Police detective named Audrey, who also poses as Arctor's supervisor Hank. Audrey wears a scramble suit while at the Police Station to hide her true identity.

Rory Cochrane as Charles Freck
Freck is a drug addict who lives in his own apartment and associates with the group. Freck has been using “Substance D” either more frequently or for longer periods of time than the other members of the group.

At the start of the film he is seen suffering severe side effects. His mental breakdown is quicker than the others’ and, unable to cope, he attempts suicide. Freck's bid fails and he is admitted to New Path for rehabilitation.

Originally, Richard Linklater toyed with adapting the Philip K. Dick novel Ubik but stopped early on because he was unable to obtain the rights and he "couldn't quite crack it." He began thinking about A Scanner Darkly, another Dick novel while talking to producer Tommy Pallotta during the making of Waking Life.

Linklater liked A Scanner Darkly more than Ubik and felt that he could make a film out of it. According to Linklater, the challenge was to capture "the humor and exuberance of the book but not let go of the sad and tragic."

Linklater was not interested in turning the book into a big budget action thriller as had been done in the past because he felt that A Scanner Darkly was "about these guys and what they're all doing in their alternative world and what's going through their minds is really what keeps the story moving."

He wanted to keep the budget under $10 million so that he could have more creative control, remain faithful to the book, and make it an animated film.

After completing School of Rock, Linklater told Pallotta that he wanted to make A Scanner Darkly next. It was important to him that Dick's estate approve his film.

Pallotta wrote a personal appeal and pitched a faithful adaptation of the novel to Russ Galen, the Philip K. Dick estate's literary agent who shared it with the late author's two daughters (Laura Leslie and Isa Hackett) who own and operate their father's trust.

Dick's daughters weren't too keen on "a cartoon version" of A Scanner Darkly. After high profile adaptations, Minority Report and Paycheck, they took a more proactive role in evaluating every film proposal, including unusual projects like Linklater's.

They read Linklater's screenplay and then met with him to discuss their respective visions of A Scanner Darkly. They felt that it was one of their father's most personal stories and liked that Linklater wasn't going to treat the drug aspects lightly, that he wanted to set it in the near future and make it right away.

For the dual roles of Arctor and Fred, Linklater thought of Keanu Reeves, but figured that the actor would be burnt out from making another science fiction film after making The Matrix trilogy. Robert Downey Jr. was attracted to the film when he heard Reeves was going to star and Linklater to direct.

He thought that the script was the strangest one he had ever read. Linklater wrote the role of Freck with Rory Cochrane in mind. The actor was interested but didn't want to recreate his role in Dazed and Confused. Both Woody Harrelson and Winona Ryder agreed to appear in the film based on the script.

Both Reeves and Ryder agreed to work for the Screen Actors Guild scale rate plus any back-end profits. As with Linklater's earlier Waking Life, syndicated radio host Alex Jones has a small cameo as himself.

Linklater assembled the cast for two weeks of rehearsals in Austin, Texas before principal photography began in order to fine-tune the script. The result was a fusion of Linklater's writing, the novel and the actors' input.

To prepare for their respective roles, Cochrane came up with his character five minutes before he got on the elevator to work; Downey Jr. memorized his dialogue by writing it all out in run-on sentences, studying them and then converting them to acronyms; and Reeves relied on the book, marking down each scene in the screenplay to the corresponding page.

Principal photography began on 17 May 2004 and lasted six weeks. Arctor's house was located on Eric Circle in Southeast Austin. The previous tenants had left a month prior to filming and left the place in such a state that production designer Bruce Curtis had to make few modifications so that it looked like a run-down home.

The filmmakers had looked at 60 houses before settling on this one. Linklater shot a lot of exteriors in Anaheim, California and then composited them into the Austin footage in post-production.

Since the live action footage was to be animated over later, makeup, lighting and visible equipment, like boom mics, were less of a concern. However, cinematographer Shane Kelly carefully composed shots and used a color palette with the animators in mind.

Sometimes, they would show up to tell Kelly what they needed. Because the movie was being shot digitally and then animated, occasionally actors forgot they would later be animated as they worked through a scene.

Robert Downey Jr. noted that he completely forgot the scene would later be animated as he worked through several takes in order to produce the smoke ring that would be featured in Barris' first closeup shot.

Extensive on-set footage of the filming of A Scanner Darkly was featured in a UK documentary about Richard Linklater directed by Irshad Ashraf and broadcast on Channel 4 in December 2004.

After principal photography was finished, the film was transferred to QuickTime for a 15-month animation process: interpolated rotoscoping. A Scanner Darkly was filmed digitally using the Panasonic AG-DVX100 and then animated with Rotoshop, a proprietary graphics editing program created by Bob Sabiston.

Rotoshop uses an animation technique called interpolated rotoscope, which was previously used in Linklater's film Waking Life. Linklater discussed the ideas and inspiration behind his use of rotoscoping in a UK documentary about him in 2004, linking it to his personal experiences of lucid dreaming.

Rotoscoping in traditional cel animation originally involved tracing over film frame-by-frame. This is similar in some respects to the rotoscope style of filmmaker Ralph Bakshi. Rotoshop animation makes use of vector keyframes, and interpolates the in-between frames automatically.

The animation phase was a trying process for Linklater who said, "I know how to make a movie, but I don't really know how to handle the animation." He had gone the animation route because he felt that there was very little animation targeted for adults.

Resources: Wikipedia.org, imdb.com

A Scanner Darkly 2006

In the future "seven years from now," America has lost the war on drugs. A highly addictive and debilitating illegal drug called Substance D, made from a small blue flower, has swept across the country. In response, the government develops an invasive, high-tech surveillance system and puts in place a network of informants and undercover agents.

Bob Arctor (Reeves) is an undercover agent assigned to immerse himself in the drug underworld and infiltrate the drug supply chain. Arctor and his housemates, Ernie Luckman (Harrelson) and James Barris (Downey Jr.), live in a suburban tract house in a poor Anaheim, California neighborhood.

They are heavy drug users, and they pass their days by taking drugs and having long, drug-inspired conversations. When Arctor is at the police station, he is codenamed Fred, and hides his identity from his fellow police officers by wearing a high-tech scramble suit that changes every aspect of the wearer's appearance.

Arctor's superior officer, Hank, like all other undercover officers at the station, also wears a scramble suit. While posing as a drug user, Arctor becomes addicted to Substance D, a powerful psychoactive drug which causes a dreamy state of intoxication and bizarre hallucinations; chronic users may develop a split personality, cognitive problems, and severe paranoia.

Arctor befriends an attractive young woman named Donna Hawthorne (Ryder), a user of cocaine, Arctor's supplier of Substance D, and part of the drug scene. Arctor hopes to buy so much Substance D from Hawthorne that she is forced to introduce him to her supplier, but Arctor develops romantic feelings for her.

However, Hawthorne refuses Arctor's sexual advances and Arctor's housemates question the true nature of their relationship. Barris implies to longtime friend and near-insane Substance D addict Charles Freck (Cochrane) that he has made advances toward Donna only to be refused, and suggests that Freck supply her with cocaine in order to attract her attention away from Arctor and convince her to lower her drug prices.

Hank orders Fred to step up surveillance on the members of the Arctor household. Hank assumes Fred is one of the drug users in the Arctor household, but does not know which one, and actually orders Fred to focus the surveillance on Arctor. In the meantime, the household members are extremely paranoid that the police have bugged their home and are watching their every move.

The paranoia reaches extreme levels, and Arctor seems to become wrapped up in the concern of his housemates, even forgetting that he is the undercover agent spying on his justifiably paranoid friends. Meanwhile, Arctor's housemate Barris (Downey Jr.) secretly contacts the police and tells them he suspects Hawthorne and Arctor are part of a terrorist organization.

Barris unknowingly tells this to Arctor himself at the police station while Arctor is wearing his scramble suit (i.e. in his job as Fred). Due to Arctor's heavy use of Substance D, he develops cognitive problems which stop the two hemispheres of his brain from communicating with each other, and as a result he is receiving two different sets of information that are in conflict.

As a result, Arctor is no longer able to distinguish between his roles as a drug user and undercover policeman, which makes him incapable of performing his job. Hank reprimands Arctor for becoming addicted to Substance D while undercover, and warns him that he will be disciplined.

After Barris supplies information to the police on the terrorist organization that Hawthorne and Arctor supposedly belong to--including a recording that Hank immediately recognizes as fake, synthesized on a computer--Hank orders Barris held on charges of providing false information to the police, which he assures Barris is "merely a cover" to protect him while the information is evaluated.

After Barris' arrest, Hank reveals to Fred that he has figured out, through the process of elimination, his true identity, and that his identity is indeed Arctor. Arctor is surprised to learn his own true identity and he begins to act extremely confused and disoriented.

Hank then informs Arctor that the whole point of the surveillance was to catch Barris, not Arctor himself; the police suspected Barris of being involved in the Substance D ring, and they were setting him up by driving up his paranoia level until Barris cracked and tried to cover his tracks with the false info.

While a disturbed Arctor begins to break down, Hank phones Donna and asks her to take Arctor to New Path, a corporation that runs a series of rehabilitation clinics. After Arctor leaves the office, Hank heads to the lockers to remove his scramble suit, and his true identity is revealed: Donna Hawthorne.

At New Path, Arctor experiences the severe symptoms of Substance D withdrawal. As part of the rehabilitation program, Arctor is renamed Bruce and put through psychological reconditioning treatments. Arctor has serious brain damage from his withdrawal from Substance D.

Sometime later Donna, using the name Audrey, has a conversation with another officer named Mike (seen undercover as an orderly at New Path), in which both reveal that New Path is responsible for the manufacture and distribution of Substance D. Donna/Audrey was part of a greater police operation to infiltrate New Path, and Arctor had been selected, without his knowledge or consent, to carry out the sting.

It is revealed that the police had intended for Arctor to become addicted to Substance D; his well-being was sacrificed so that he might enter a rehabilitation center unnoticed as a real addict in order to find conclusive proof of New Path's crimes. They are dubious if there is still enough of Arctor left to find the evidence.

To continue his rehabilitation, New Path sends Arctor to work at an isolated New Path corn farming prison. Arctor spots rows of blue flowers hidden between rows of corn. These flowers, referenced throughout the film, are the source of Substance D. As the film ends, Arctor hides one of the blue flowers in his boot, so that when he returns to the New Path clinic during Thanksgiving he can give it to his "friends" - undercover police agents

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