The Grand debuts in U.S. theaters today

Ray Romano
Ray Romano lends his comedic and poker talents to The Grand.

Poker makes its way to the big screen again in the U.S. with The Grand debuting in major U.S. cities today.

Written and directed by Zak Penn, best known for writing action hero movies such as Last Action Hero, Behind Enemy Lines and X-Men: The Last Stand, The Grand takes on the mockumentary genre.

The movie is intended to be a comedic fake documentary about a poker tournament. Rather than writing out a full script, Penn did an outline for the movie and let the actors improvise the dialogue and actions for the scenes based on their characters.

When asked in a Reuters article if the scenes were totally improvised, Woody Harrelson, who plays One Eyed Jack Faro in the movie, said, "Yes, and I was a bit scared when we began shooting. I didn't think I had it all together, but then it kicked in."

Along with Harrelson, the cast is made up of a long list of actors as well as poker stars. Ray Romano, Jason Alexander, David Cross, Dennis Farina, Cheryl Hines, Richard Kind, Ray Liotta, David Cross and Chris Parnell all lend their comedic talents.

Bringing some more legitimate poker skills to the table are Doyle Brunson, Phil Laak, Phil Gordon, Phil Hellmuth and Shannon Elizabeth.

Filmed at the Gold Nugget in Las Vegas, it was only fitting that The Grand debuted at a film festival in Las Vegas during the 2007 World Series of Poker.

Life is also imitating art now as the Gold Nugget plans to host a real Grand Poker Series June 6 through July 6 this summer.

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