Hmm... The stressed-out, overachieving college senior Katie Holmes plays in Abandon just happens to be named Katie, too. Coincidence? Nope! The film's writer-director, Stephen Gaghan — an Oscar-winner for his Traffic screenplay — is a die-hard fan.
"It's the furthest thing from a coincidence that exists in the movie business," quips Gaghan, who makes his feature directorial debut with this psychological thriller (opening Friday). "I wrote Abandon for Katie Holmes... Every movie I've written, I wrote with actors in mind. I wrote that policeman role in Traffic for Benicio del Toro. I'm goofy, but I think it's the power of positive thinking. You just say, 'It's gonna be that person.'"
If it weren't for that Oscar on his shelf, this kind of wishful thinking would seem odd, especially since the story is about a girl who fears she is being stalked. But Gaghan assures us he was purely motivated by admiration for Holmes's body of work. "I saw her in the Ice Storm and it really struck me," he recalls of her first major film role. "Then, I saw Wonder Boys, and I was really blown away by her performance in that."
As his uncanny luck would have it, the scribe ran into the Dawson's Creek star in a Malibu falafel joint shortly after finishing Abandon's first draft. "I went over to her and said, 'I wrote a movie for you,'" he recalls. "I was expecting her to go, 'Don't hurt me!' But instead she was really cool about it, and she liked the script."
What's Katie's take on Gaghan's zealous devotion? "I'm not an idiot," she says, matter-of-factly returning his praise. "I can recognize the good writing of Stephen Gaghan."