About The Characters
To make the characters of Lost Souls believable, the filmmakers knew they
would need actors who could bring them to life with all the palpable subtleties
of real people. "What we found in Winona Ryder and Ben Chaplin were two
people who really developed an unusually deep knowledge of their
characters," says Janusz Kaminski. "They were very instrumental in
shaping this movie and making it utterly real."
Kaminski imagined Winona Ryder, with whom he had worked as cinematographer on
How to Make an American Quilt, in the role of Maya even as he was reading the
script. "As I read the lines, I could hear Winona delivering them,"
admits Kaminski. "She has that great vulnerability to her mixed with a
tremendous strength. And she has a very unpredictable quality, where you feel
like anything can happen. Ultimately, I felt that she brought a certain sense of
wonder to the movie. She goes in directions that aren't expected of her."
That unexpected quality is exactly what drew Ryder, a two time Oscar nominee,
to Maya. "I think I was attracted to this movie because it goes into a
world I know nothing about, it tackles issues I had never really thought about
before," says Ryder. "I saw it as being a tremendous challenge: to
play a character who believes in something so strongly even though I don't
necessarily believe in it.
Ryder also was drawn to the script's psychologically probing style.
"It's scary," she says, "but not in a gory sense. It reminded me
of Roman Polanski or Nicholas Roeg-classic films filled with wonderful, eerie
images and questions about what is real and what isn't. That to me is the most
terrifying thing of all: is what's happening to Maya real or is she just going
Finally, Ryder could not resist the chance to work with Janusz Kaminski as a
director. "I've always thought he was brilliant," she comments.
"He's incredibly sensitive to story and he's not impatient and he has a
tremendous respect for actors. And he's also a visual genius who is always
discovering different ways to shoot things and make things scary. He's
completely modern and yet he's classic, too. And, on top of that, he's hilarious
and fun to be around."
Ryder too had a chance to interview Father Lebar about the mechanics of
exorcism. "I was surprised by his answers," she admits. "They
were very scientific and yet he really took it seriously. There's a great
mystery to it. I think sometimes if a person just believes that a priest is
casting the devil out of them, it helps them whether it's in their heads or
While Ryder's character maintains a steadfast faith throughout Lost Souls,
Ben Chaplin's arcs from arrogant skepticism to mild curiosity to ardent,
desperate belief. To allow audiences to join him on this roller-coaster of heart
and mind, the filmmakers chose Ben Chaplin, who came to the fore in the comedy
The Truth about Cats and Dogs and Terence Malick's The Thin Red Line. The
character of Peter, no matter how outwardly successful and charismatic, has an
inner emptiness that allows him to become a vessel for evil.
"I wanted someone who exuded confidence, arrogance, attractiveness,"
says Kaminski, "someone who seems on the verge of success yet also has an
underlying vulnerability, who might be willing to question his own existence.
Ben is someone who questions his existence in real life. On the outside, he is
very elegant and sweet, but inside you know there is a lot going on. He brings
that to the
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