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LILI TAYLOR stars as Rose in Warner Bros.' "DOGFIGHT."
Filling the starring roles in "Dogfight" was a challenging task, requiring sensitive, versatile young actors who were willing and able to play an unattractive teenaged girl and an unsympathetic role as a coarse Marine.
It happened that casting director MARION DOUGHERTY's very first suggestion for the part of Rose was Lili Taylor, whose memorable performances in "Mystic Pizza," "Say Anything" and "Born on the Fourth of July," had established her as someone who could bring her characters uniquely to life. But despite the filmmakers' strong interest in Taylor, there was one problem: she was too attractive.
"Rose was very fat when I wrote the script," says Bob Comfort, "because we tend to see fat as ugly."
Savoca adds, "Trying to find Rose was very difficult. In the script she was 30 pounds overweight. I zeroed in on that and said, 'That's something I really want to do because we don't see love stories about women who are overweight.'
"We auditioned many actresses who said they would gain weight, and somehow you'd realize that it was not going to work. Lili was presented to us early and we said 'No, we're going to look for an overweight girl.'
"Finally we came full circle and talked to Lili again because we felt she was the strongest actress for the part. We talked about her gaining some weight, which she did, but not all the way.
"I started to wonder, 'If it's not about weight, what is this really about?' and I realized the attitude goes much deeper: you could be the perfect weight, but if you don't feel right with yourself, you put out these signals that say 'Don't look at me; I'm not someone who should be appreciated.' We talked a lot about Rose being a person who does that, and that's how she came out. I'm really pleased. I don't feel we've compromised."
Lili Taylor says, "I'm tired of just seeing beautiful women on screen; we need to have more real people up there. There are many women like Rose. I gained 12 pounds for the picture and I kept that weight on after the picture. I think all women are affected by the weight thing whether they know it or not. It's okay for me if I have a few extra pounds now because my mental picture has strengthened.