Why Stop Now

Why Stop Now

Jesse Eisenberg as Eli and Tracy Morgan as Sprinkles in Phil Dorling and Ron Nyswaner's WHY STOP NOW? Photo by Jacob Hutchings. An IFC Films release.

Why Stop Now

Also Starring:
Executive Producer:
Co-Executive Producer:
  • Thomas Bouchard
Photography Director:
Production Designer:
Costume Designer:
Music Supervisor:
Stills Photographer:
Production Company:

* Most external filmography links go to The Internet Movie Database.

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Why Stop Now (2012)

Opened: 08/17/2012 Limited

NoHo 708/17/2012 - 08/23/20127 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home

Genre: Comedy/Drama

Rated: R for for language throughout, and drug content.


WHY STOP NOW? tells the bittersweet story of Eli Smith (Jesse Eisenberg), a piano prodigy, and his mother Penny (Melissa Leo) who despite her cheerful, loving disposition, struggles with drug addiction. On the day of his audition for a prestigious music program, Eli's mother plans to enter rehab, but a glitch in the system forces them to enlist the help of an unlikely ally, her drug dealer Sprinkles (Tracy Morgan). Circumstances conspire that turn them into a comical yet determined band of collaborators who are forced to deal with their internal demons over the course of the day.

Director's Statement

The collaboration between Philip Dorling and Ron Nyswaner began when nineteen-year-old Dorling sought Nyswaner's advice about becoming a filmmaker and writing a workable film story. Nyswaner shared something he'd witnessed while doing volunteer work in a detoxification unit: an addict was turned away because she was not high and had no health insurance, but was told she would be admitted if she came back high. After doing some research, Nyswaner and Dorling started to run with the idea, exploring different scenarios and imagining how this situation might affect one's personal life and family. Finally, they crafted a script about a young man trying to change his life, his challenging relationship with his mother (a potential rehab patient), and their encounter with an intimidating but wise drug dealer.

Dorling: "Our main character, Eli--played brilliantly by Jesse Eisenberg--is teetering on the edge of self-destruction. But he has a chance to make a better life for himself through his passion: the piano. As a young artist myself, I'm trying to find my place in the world. I completely relate to what Eli is going through. I know what it's like to be without hope. But I also know what it's like to have a dream. We all have fears and doubts, and a million reasons not to go after what we want. Eli can walk either path: follow his passion for music, or slump into the same degenerative lifestyle as his parents. It all lies in the questions: how bad do you want it? How hard will you fight to change your life for the better? Will you stop at nothing to see your dreams come to life?"

Nyswaner: "I know what it's like to watch your life slowly becoming controlled by your addiction, unable to stop it, hurting yourself and the people who love you--it's like being in a car accident in slow motion and you're in the driver's seat. People try to help you, but you push them away, you cover up. You tell lies, especially to yourself: it's not such a big problem, I can quit whenever I want, etc. I've traveled through that dark cycle and survived. Penny--the addict in our story, trying to hold it all together--feels tremendous guilt for the damage she's caused, but she's trapped. She loves her children, wants what's best for them, but can't face the truth about herself. Melissa Leo--our muse and inspiration--captures all these contradictions perfectly. She's incredible."

Dorling: "Finding this thing you truly love, that literally has the power to change your life, whatever it is--music, writing, filmmaking--is a chance for salvation, a chance to take control of your own destiny. That's something Eli learns from Sprinkles, the drug dealer, played by Tracy Morgan: a comic genius known by all, but a real human being who brings truth and depth to a character who's traveled a rough road in life."

Nyswaner: "And, as the story develops, Sprinkles faces some truths about himself and Tracy gives a powerful dramatic performance."

Dorling: "And Jesse and Melissa are really funny."

Nyswaner: "We have an amazing cast. Sarah Ramos, Isiah Whitlock, Emma Lyle..."

Dorling: "We were honored to work with all of them."

Nyswaner: "On set, Phil was the director, working with the actors and our great DP and designers."

Dorling: "I wanted the look to be real, but colorful and hopeful--a counter-balance to the story's grittier details."

Nyswaner: "Philip is gifted with a filmmaker's intuition, getting great performances, keeping everyone focused on telling the story and delivering the emotions. He was filled with a pure joy for filmmaking that inspired everyone."

Dorling: "Ron was the director in post. He brought life to the film, a great music concept, and an amazing structure. He's so accomplished and has a great understanding of the craft."

Nyswaner: "Everything happens on one significant day when Eli and Penny try to find the strength to change their lives."

Dorling: "And Eli gets to declare his love for a girl (played by Sarah Ramos) he's had a crush on for years."

Nyswaner: "In the middle of a re-enactment of a battle from the Revolutionary War."

Dorling: "While he's high on painkillers. Crazy, huh?"

Nyswaner: "The movie is about fate. Are we destined by our genes to repeat our parents' mistakes?"

Dorling: "Or is it possible to break the cycle? And how hard will you fight to make a better life for yourself?"

Nyswaner: "And it had to be funny."

Dorling: "Absolutely. Funny and true."

About the Cast

Jesse Eisenberg (Eli Bloom)

Jesse Eisenberg has appeared in the films The Social Network (Oscar nomination), Zombieland, Adventureland (BAFTA nomination), The Squid and The Whale and Roger Dodger. On stage, he has appeared in Orphans opposite Al Pacino, Scarcity at The Atlantic Theater and Asuncion at The Cherry Lane, which he wrote. He is also a contributing writer for McSweeneys and his humor essays have appeared in Harpers and The New York Times.

Melissa Leo (Penny Bloom)

Melissa Leo received an Academy Award, Golden Globe and SAG Award for her tour de force performance in The Fighter. She also received Oscar and SAG nominations for her starring role in Frozen River, for which she won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead and a Spotlight Award from the National Board of Review among countless other accolades

Leo shared a Best Ensemble acting award from the Phoenix Film Critics Society for her outstanding work in 21 Grams, opposite Benicio del Toro and Sean Penn. Her most recent films include Conviction, opposite Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell and Welcome to the Rileys, opposite James Gandolfini and Kristen Stewart. Other notable film work includes The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada in which she starred opposite Dwight Yoakam and Tommy Lee Jones, and Hide and Seek, in which she starred opposite Robert DeNiro.

Leo can be seen in the upcoming films Red State, written and directed by Kevin Smith and Seven Days in Utopia opposite Robert Duvall. She can also be seen in "Mildred Pierce," the HBO mini-series directed by Todd Haynes in which Melissa stars opposite Kate Winslett. Leo's television credits include the current HBO series "Treme," from executive producer David Simon, and she is known for her groundbreaking portrayal of Detective Kay Howard on "Homicide: Life on the Streets".

Leo studied Drama at Mount View Theatre School in London, England and later at the SUNY Purchase Acting Program.

Tracy Morgan (Sprinkles)

With a trio of films on the way and a hit television series, Tracy Morgan has been an extremely busy man as of late. He recently completed production for Screen Gems comedy Death at a Funeral, a remake of the 2007 British movie of the same name, alongside Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence. This past summer he made his animation debut lending his voice for Jerry Bruckheimer's G-Force, a combination live action/CG film. Morgan starred as Blaster, one of the highly trained secret agent guinea pigs dispatched to save the world. The film opened number one in US box offices and was adored by audiences worldwide.

Morgan can currently be seen starring on NBC's Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning "30 Rock." He stars opposite Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, as Tracy Jordan - the unpredictable star of Lemon's (Fey) hit variety show, "TGS with Tracy Jordan." This year his performance earned him his first Emmy Nomination in the Supporting Actor category. Morgan has twice been nominated for the NAACP Image Award in support of his role. Along with the cast, Morgan has also won a 2009 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.

One of Morgan's next films to hit the box office will be The Untitled Kevin Smith Project, due out in February 2010. He will star alongside Bruce Willis in the comedy about two cops whose adventures include locating a stolen baseball card, rescuing a woman, and dealing with gangsters and their laundered money. He will also be seen later this year in the David O. Russell (I Heart Huckabees) romantic comedy, Nailed, opposite Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Biel. Morgan's other feature film credits include: Dimension Films' Superhero Movie; First Sunday opposite Ice Cube and Katt Williams; The Longest Yard opposite Adam Sandler; the Wayan's brothers Little Man, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Head of State.

As a stand-up comic who has headlined across the country, Morgan was first introduced to television audiences in his role as Hustleman on the hit comedy series "Martin." He went on to join "Saturday Night Live" in 1996 where he appeared for seven seasons and created such memorable characters as Astronaut Jones and Brian Fellows. After leaving SNL, Morgan went on to star in his own comedy series "The Tracy Morgan Show" and as the voice of Spoonie Luv on Comedy Central's "Crank Yankers." This year Morgan was tapped to be part of the famed "New York Comedy Festival" alongside Bill Maher, Andy Samberg, and Patton Oswalt, among others. Broadcast on Comedy Central, he will be performing "Tracy Morgan's Hard Knock Life" from Carnegie Hall on November 6, 2009. In addition, Morgan recently released his first book, I Am The New Black,

Morgan currently resides in New York City.

About the Crew

Philip Dorling (Writer/Director)

Philip Dorling became interested in filmmaking at age 15. He began his career making skateboard videos and working in the art department on various films. His first narrative project was his collaboration with Ron Nyswaner on the short Predisposed, which screened at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, and went on to become IFC Film's Why Stop Now?

Dorling currently lives in Brooklyn.

Ron Nyswaner (Writer/Director/Producer)

Ron Nyswaner wrote The Painted Veil (2006), which was nominated for Independent Spirit and National Board of Review screenwriting awards. His screenplay for Philadelphia (1993) was nominated for a Golden Globe, Academy Award, BAFTA, and Writers' Guild Award. He wrote and directed The Prince of Pennsylvania, which earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for best first feature. He is directing the documentary She's the Best Thing in It and developing the feature You Better Watch Out.