About The Man in the Moon
The Man in the Moon was the film debut of actress Reese Witherspoon. Director Robert Mulligan believed that casting the 14 year old in the role of Dani was a potential risk.. “We had a casting team that went out and saw several thousand kids and tested them on video. When I saw Reese’s test, she just jumped off the screen, simply as a personality. I couldn’t tell whether she could act or not, but she’s got a wonderful face and there’s a brightness and intelligence there. Then, when I tested her in Santa Monica, a strange breakthrough took place. Early in the movie, Dani is a bit of a tomboy. Reese was trying to project this in a scene where she had to get angry with the boy, but it had a false ring to it. Because in real life she isn’t a tomboy. She’s a real ‘girl’ girl. Just before we did another rehearsal, I told her I wanted her to chew gum. Well, she started chewing gum and all of a sudden the performance happened. She was tough. Strong. Direct. And the scene worked. Like that. In an instant, it was there. What was marvelous was, at the end of the scene, Reese knew that something happened. Her compass, her sense of what’s real, kicked in. The motor was running and she knew it. It was funny because she said, ‘Can I always chew gum?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.'”
Nothing else (director Robert Mulligan) has done… approaches the purity and perfection of The Man in the Moon. As the film approached its conclusion without having stepped wrong once, I wondered whether he could do it – whether he could maintain the poetic, bittersweet tone, and avoid the sentimentalism and cheap emotion that could have destroyed this story. Would he maintain the integrity of this material? He would, and he does.