The Adjustment Bureau Trivia

(Total Trivia Entries: 34)

“You don’t have free will.”

The movie is loosely based on the short story “Adjustment Team” by Philip K. Dick, who also wrote “Total Recall”, “Minority Report” and “Blade Runner”. To find out more trivia keep on reading.

Casting                        Screenplay & Production


Producer Michael Hackett and director/writer George Nolfi had Matt Damon in mind as as their lead, and in fact Nolfi wrote the part of David Norris with only Damon in mind.



Matt Damon’s interest was piqued when he read early drafts of the script which was the take of a man who stumbles on a vast, powerful and unseen world that exists on the periphery of our own. He told the filmmakers that if future drafts looked as good, he would be ready to join. And as Nolfi expanded Philip K. Dick’s story and made it relevant to modern audience, Damon was impressed enough to join the cast. Variety reported Damon’s involvement on February 24, 2009.


The role of Elise was a far less obvious casting choice than that of the movie’s male lead. Writer/director Nolfi, wanted the character to be a dancer so she could provide a
balance to David’s structured, political world. Nolfi stated; “had envisioned the role to be played by somebody who was a professional dancer or an actress who had many
years of ballet training.” But as it turned out, finding the right actress with the appropriate training, as well as the right chemistry with Damon, was a trickier feat than originally considered.


The production team auditioned hundreds of dancers from around the world, with writer/director Nolfi being present for dozens of the auditions. But none had the chemistry that Nolfi was looking for. Nolfi then turned to auditioning established actresses to see how they played the scenes.


When Emily Blunt read the script, she instinctively knew a professional actress was needed for the part. George Nolfi recalls; “In one meeting, Emily completely derailed my plans for casting the role. She came in and read with Matt. We filmed the whole thing, and you could just tell.” Variety reported Blunt’s involvement on July 14, 2009.



After Emily Blunt won the role of Elise Sellas, she dedicated several months of vigorous dance training for the part. She knew portraying role would be immensely tough. Once her training brought her character’s physicality up to par, Blunt found that bringing the romance to the role of Elise was the fun part.


Although Emily Blunt did work with body doubles, and having the luxury of the film being shot at specific angles and cutting around talent in post-production, many of the cast and crew admit that Blunt rarely relied on visual crutches to express her character in motion. Director/writer George Nolfi recalls; “Emily came out here a couple months before production and she was dancing five or six days a week and working out, taking it seriously on the physical performance level.”



The film’s choreographer, Benoit-Swan Pouffer, from Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, which would become the actual company that Nolfi wrote into the film’s script.


After watching his performance opposite Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker (2008), writer/director Nolfi pursued actor Anthony Mackie to take the part of David’s guardian angel.



Actor, John Slattery, was brought onto the production to play Richardson. Slattery, best known for his portrayal of Roger Sterling in AMC’s Mad Men, was cast after a chance encounter with George Nolfi in Los Angeles. Nolfi, whom Slattery knew through a mutual friend, asked him to come in and read a few scenes as a favor. A few months later, Nolfi had edited them together and showed Slattery, who thought it looked fantastic. Once he read the script, he wanted to join the project.



George Nolfi cast the legendary Terence Stamp as Thompson, the last resort in the hierarchy of agents to “adjust” the Norris situation and quash insubordination. Nolfi states; “You look at Terence Stamp, and there’s a certain amount of gravitas that comes with him.” Similar to the other actors cast in this movie, it was Nolfi’s intricate story that attracted Stamp to the project. Playing a mystical agent offered a great appeal to the actor.



The names of the three main members of the Adjustment Bureau are Thompson, Richardson, and Harry. This is a play on the term Tom, Dick, and Harry, which is slang for any anonymous persons.


To play the part of David’s childhood best friend, Charlie, George Nolfi tasked actor Michael Kelly, whose pivotal turn in Dawn of the Dead (2004) launched his film career.



It’s been noted that actors, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Daniel Dae Kim had original scenes in the movie, but those scenes were cut from the final version of the movie.



Screenplay & Production                        Casting


The Adjustment Bureau is loosely based on the short story “Adjustment Team” by Philip K. Dick, who also wrote “Total Recall”, “Minority Report” and “Blade Runner”.


Director, George Nolfi, was working on another script when his longtime friend and producing partner, Michael Hackett, brought up the short story “Adjustment Team” during a phone call. Though he had not yet secured the rights to the story, Hackett had a solid working relationship with Dick’s estate and wanted to pursue optioning and developing the project.

Producer Michael Hackett pitched the story to director, George Nolfi as “Fate personified” trying to prevent a man from being with the woman he loves. Though Philip K. Dick’s work can be both prescient and dystopian, the central conceit of “Adjustment Team”, which is that fate is a group of people among us, melded with a love story, struck Nolfi as an original concept for a movie that could dig into some of life’s “big questions” in a thrilling and compelling way.


The original character from Philip K. Dick’s short story is an insurance salesman, but director/writer, Nolfi felt strongly that David Norris should be a politician. Nolfi imagined a charismatic and popular Democratic congressman from the rough-and-tumble streets of Brooklyn. Producer Hackett explains the reason for this; “Picking a politician allowed us a character whose decision can matter to people beyond himself. If he chooses to stay on his career path, he can actually, under the right circumstances, do great things for millions of people. This weighs against his own happiness and what’s best for him as a person.”


The film is said to have Judeo-Christian theological implications, such as an omnipotent and omniscient God, as well as the concepts of free will and predestination. Moreover, it has been speculated that the Chairman is actually a version of God and his caseworkers are angels. The director, George Nolfi, stated; “that the intention of this film is to raise questions.”


To provide the movie’s on-screen campaign partners with an introduction to a political mindset, Nolfi had Matt Damon and Michael Kelly meet with former congressman Harold Ford to discuss politics at the start of production. Michael Kelly recalls; “We chatted about politics and what my position was, and Ford gave us reading material and films to watch, including The War Room, about James Carville and Bill Clinton’s campaign. He also had me read ‘Counselor,’ written by Ted Sorensen, who was a big part of Kennedy’s rise.”


The production was able to leverage Matt Damon’s celebrity to further the authenticity of David Norris’ life in The Adjustment Bureau. During the shoot, Damon was asked to take part in Pradjustment-bureau-17esident Clinton’s Global Initiative. Producer Michael Hackett stated: “We had the idea, and the Clinton people thought it was fine, that Matt would go in wardrobe as David Norris, who would logically be at this type of an event. We could get him interacting with President Clinton and other heads of state.” A skeleton crew, led by cinematographer John Toll, was granted the security clearances necessary to follow Damon around the event documentary style, while producer Moore worked to persuade other world leaders and politicians to appear in the film as well.


Matt Damon’s publicity tour for The Informant (2009) benefited The Adjustment Bureau. as Damon’s appearance on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart to promote The Informant, became another opportunity to shoot a campaign-stumping scene for the character of David Norris.


The film’s choreographer, Benoit-Swan Pouffer, from Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, would become the actual company that director/writer George Nolfi wrote into the script.


Director George Nolfi worked with John Toll as his cinematographer. Shots were planned in advance with storyboards but often changed during shooting to fit the conditions on the day. The visual plan for the film was to keep the camera work smooth using a dolly or crane and have controlled formal shots when the Adjustment Bureau was in full control, with things becoming more loose and using hand-held cameras when the story becomes less controlled.


The Adjustment Bureau is an amalgamation of different locations. Based on the sheer number of locations, shooting in New York city proved to be a bit of a behemoth. About 85 locations were used during a 70 day shooting schedule. 


Some of the locations used for pivotal scenes include:

  • The roof of 30 Rockefeller Center, also known as Top of the Rock.
  • The New York Public Library.
  • The historical Custom House in lower Manhattan (home to a Native American museum and offices of Homeland Security).
  • The Waldorf Astoria hotel; 60 Centre Street courthouse.
  • Fort Tryon Park and its New Leaf Restaurant & Bar.
  • The South Street Seaport neighborhood.
  • The Fulton Ferry Landing in Brooklyn.
  • The field at Yankee Stadium.
  • The performance and rehearsal space of the actual Cedar Lake dance company in Chelsea.
  • Madison Square Park.
  • The streets of the West Village Scenes were even filmed on the Hudson River on a Circle Line ferry that moved up and down alongside Manhattan’s west side.


Damon wears a baseball cap which has the letter “F” written on it, this apparently stands for Fordham University where some of the movie was filmed.

In theory, agents of The Adjustment Bureau dress in clothing similar to the outfits worn by the humans that they shadow. Because David Norris is a well heeled politician, the agents in his life mirror his more formal attire, i.e wearing suits.



Brooks Brothers provided costumes for the movie.


The phone number given to Matt Damon by Emily Blunt in the movie, (212) 664-7665, is in fact owned by Universal Studios and has appeared in other movies distributed by the company. If the number is called, it will ring indefinitely.


The original ending of the movie involved David and Elise meeting a female “Chairman”. However, this was scrapped and the final ending of the movie was re-shot 4 months after the rest of the film had completed shooting.



Featurette of the movie with cast and crew interviews:


Still want more trivia? Then visit the official movie website.




Total Trivia Entries: 34



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