Stars Flock to New Orleans for 'All the King's Men' Debut

"All the King's Men" director Steven Zaillian said he couldn't imagine not returning to New Orleans to debut the movie where much of it was filmed just months before Hurricane Katrina struck.

"It's something everyone wanted to do," he said Friday, while preparing for the trip from New York. "It just seemed right."

Zaillian was among those slated to attend Saturday evening's New Orleans premiere along with stars Sean Penn, Jude Law and Kate Winslet, following last week's world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

"We all fell in love with New Orleans," Zaillian said. "I'm looking forward to seeing everybody that we met while shooting there."

This is the second making of "All the King's Men," based on Robert Penn Warren's 1947 Pulitzer Prize-winning book by the same name. The novel, inspired by the life of Louisiana Gov. Huey P. Long, also was turned into an Oscar-winning 1949 movie.

In this version, Penn plays the leading role of Willie Stark, a Southern politician whose rise to power is followed by a web of corruption and betrayal that ultimately leads to his downfall.

James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo and New Orleans native Patricia Clarkson also are in the cast.

Zaillian, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of "Schindler's List," said it was by far the largest cast of stars he's worked with on one project. He said some of them took smaller roles just to be part of the production.

"Some people think that movie stars are only interested in being in big, successful films. The smart ones do projects like this," he said.

Another preview screening of the film is scheduled for Tuesday in Baton Rouge, where part of the movie was filmed. It opens in theaters nationwide on Sept. 22.