Director's Statement: Casting the Barretts
It's commonly said by directors that casting a film is between fifty and ninety percent
of the job. Nothing could be truer in the case of DARK SKIES. In keeping with the style
of the rest of the film, it was paramount that the family feel real, relatable and
appealing but not movie perfect. That meant finding exactly the right actors.
The quest for the perfect cast started with the Lacy character and I was fortunate that
my first choice, Keri Russell, responded to the script and wanted to do it. I needed
audiences to believe and empathize with Lacy, so they would be more invested in her
and her family's journey. Keri was able to bring those qualities to the screen with her
rare mixture of beauty, intelligence, relatability and warmth.
For the role of Daniel Barrett I was looking for someone who could portray a
suburban father who finds himself losing control of the very ordered life he tried to
construct. This was not the role for an action star. When Daniel eventually buys a gun
to protect his family, I needed an actor who looked uncomfortable holding it. I found
that actor in Josh Hamilton. With his depth of experience starring in films, TV and on
Broadway, Josh was able to capture that delicate balance of being the last of the
family members to "believe" what is happening without losing his warmth and
I was very fortunate that thirteen-year-old Dakota Goyo was available and excited to
play Jesse Barrett. After starring opposite Hugh Jackman in REAL STEEL, Dakota has
been in demand and for good reason. He possesses a natural ability and big screen
presence that is compelling and real. In many ways, the film rests on his shoulders
and he's able to carry it with ease.
The casting of six-year-old Kadan Rockett as Sam Barrett came after an extensive
search by my casting director, Rick Montgomery. We saw hundreds of auditions by
kids from all over the country before we found Kadan. I was determined not to cast a
"movie kid" , and with Kadan, we found a child actor possessing uncanny poise and
intelligence for his age without any of the cynical affectation.
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