Satirical comedy follows the machinations of Big Tobacco’s chief spokesman, Nick Naylor, who spins on behalf of cigarettes while trying to remain a role model for his twelve-year-old son.Jason Reitman wrote individual letters to each of the stars in the film telling them why they would be right for the part. Every one of his first choices accepted their parts and most thanked Reitman for his great letter. Sam Elliott wanted his character to refuse to take the money. Jason Reitman spent three hours persuading him to do the part as scripted. One of Sam Elliott’s conditions to do the part was to have him carry a rifle in a scene instead of the scripted shotgun. Jason Reitman agreed to change the script. When they were about to do the scene, Reitman realized that he had forgotten about the rifle and went to the prop wagon frantically hoping to find one. There were three guns laying on the tailgate, two shotguns and a rifle. When Elliott picked up the rifle, Reitman breathed a sigh of relief. He asked Elliott if he needed instruction on how to use it. Elliott declined and said that he knew how to use it because the rifle was his.No one is shown smoking a cigarette throughout the entire movie. In fact, except in the black and white film that Naylor watches, no-one is seen even holding a cigarette. Naylor holds an empty packet and Robert Duvall holds an (unlit) cigar. During the scene in which Nick and Joey are in the amusement park riding the Ferris wheel and are eating what appears to be ice cream, they are actually eating mashed potatoes. The reason for this being that during filming under hot movie lighting, actual ice cream melts too quickly to ensure continuity from shot to shot. The use of mashed potatoes is an old photography trick used commonly in the advertising industry, and is something infinitely more desirable than the other oft-used ice cream substitutes in film or photography: Crisco or Lard. Sam Elliot’s character is based on real “Marlboro Man” model Wayne McLaren, who contracted lung cancer, testified for anti-smoking legislation, and had the Phillip Morris Company try to deny he was in the ads. Two other models – David McLean and Dick Hammer – also died of lung cancer.