Photographed in Northampton, Mass., Dec. 1 and 10, 1998
John Irving's novels have been successful, but films based on his novels (see Simon Birch) have disappointed critics. The Cider House Rules (due in the fall), which tells the story of a boy who's been isolated in an orphanage, has at least one element the others lacked: a screenplay credited to Irving. That's what prompted director Lasse Hallström (What's Eating Gilbert Grape) to sign on. "The screenplay's balance of dramatic, comedic, and bizarre elements attracted me," he says. "I felt I could be of use to it." Mother factor in the film's favor is its stellar cast (including Tobey Maguire and Charlize Theron, left, and Erik Sullivan, above). Says Hallström (also at left), "Charlize plays the girl who teaches the boy the facts of life." And that beats Nastassja Kinski in a bear suit any day.