Proctors and Avatars: Supporting Cast
With Bridges and Reynolds set to play Roy and Nick, the quick banter between the two established a tone to the script and colored the remainder of the narrative. The filmmakers soon began to cultivate their wish lists of actors to complete the cast of characters on both sides of this mortal coil.
Golden Globe Award winner Kevin Bacon, who signed on for the role of Detective Bobby Hayes, Nick's partner in the Boston Police Department before he dies, recalls his first impression of the material and the Bridges-Reynolds partnership: "Knowing that Ryan and Jeff were going to be playing the leads in R.I.P.D. made the script exciting. They're two guys who are at the top of their game. I could picture these two characters trying to relate to each other, which I feel is the backbone of the movie. They both have great comedic timing, and once we started filming, time and again, you could see it all unfold."
Nick's search for his killer leads him to the unexpected: He was double-crossed by his best friend and longtime partner. Still, Schwentke was adamant from the start that Hayes should retain comedic elements and not be the brooding cookie-cutter, moustache-twirling villain. The filmmakers found in Bacon a performer who could play the unscrupulous antagonist while pulling off sly comedy.
Bacon appreciated the duality of the role he was offered, and that this crooked cop has a number of tricks up his sleeve. "Hayes is a morally questionable guy," he states. "His self-centeredness is surpassed only by his greed, but what you don't realize is that his greed goes way beyond the norm. I wanted him to be a salt-of-the-earth Boston cop who, on one hand, is grounded but also give him something just as fantastical."
Besides being a traitorous friend, Hayes also has a bigger, deadlier secret -- one that Nick couldn't fathom until he meets his fellow officers of the R.I.P.D. The woman who gets the ball rolling in that reveal is none other than Proctor, the Fresca-sipping bureau chief of the Boston R.I.P.D. whose mod-1960s attire belies her sardonic demeanor. She is Nick's first contact with the department, and she explains his new circumstances and job prospects, as well as introduces him to Roy, with whom she has long-standing tensions. It's ultimately up to Proctor to provide Nick with a good recommendation on Judgment Day, and she needs 100 years of convincing before she'll sign off.
In early conversations with Schwentke and costume designer Susan Lyall, Proctor herself, two-time Golden Globe Award winner Mary-Louise Parker, had specific ideas for her character -- a cop who would curiously don white go-go boots that complemented a mod minidress. For the actress, determining the look, and ultimately the backstory for the chief of the third-largest precinct in the force, was worth a good deal of collaboration.
Parker offers: "How Proctor looks and what she wears should speak to her past because you only see her in one thing...so you only have one opportunity to do that. At one point, I went through a lot of different ideas, and then somehow I became fixated on this picture of a forest ranger from 1968." With a laugh, she adds: "That photograph was the grain of inspiration for the character."
French actress Stephanie Szostak, who made her English-language-film debut in The Devil Wears Prada and was recently seen as the unstoppable soldier Brandt in Iron Man 3, portrays Julia, Nick's grieving wife -- who unwittingly becomes caught up in Roy and Nick's investigation. When Nick tries to reveal himself to Julia and ultimately gain redemption, all that she can see and hear is Nick's avatar, Suffolk County Health Inspector Jerry Chen -- courtesy of the universe's witness protection program.
R.I.P.D. 's love story, layered among the action and comedy, was appealing to Szostak. She relays: "Nick doesn't accept the fact that he's dead and he also needs to redeem himself, so he keeps coming back to Julia. It drives part of the tale, and it's a pretty touching love story. Ryan and I had to be comfortable together to make our scenes work, and we were. Our relationship went from a very happily married couple to being ripped [no pun intended] apart and having to say goodbye."
Supermodel and up-and-coming actress Marisa Miller, known for her multiple appearances in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, and legendary character actor James Hong -- whose seven-decade career includes films from Blade Runner to Big Trouble in Little China and television series from Kung Fu to Dynasty -- co-star as the avatars for Roy and Nick, respectively. Because R.I.P.D. officers cross the portal between the two worlds, humans can only see them as their avatars, versus the way that they looked when they were alive.
Miller's drop-dead-gorgeous model and Hong's doddering senior citizen make for quite an incongruous pair, and the fights that Roy and Nick have in front of everyday people inject much levity into the story. Perhaps it's the universe's twisted sense of humor, but the lovely young woman's stunning facade contradicts Roy's gruff, short-tempered sheriff, while Nick's unsteady geriatric is at odds with the self-assured, virile cop he was during his time on Earth.
Even though, according to the R.I.P.D.'s statistics, more than 150,000 people die every day on our planet, a number of these souls slip through the cracks before they are pulled into the portal to heaven or hell. Once these "Deados" are on Earth past their time, their soul starts to rot, and whoa, do they start to smell. A few of the Deados with whom Roy and Nick must deal are the duplicitous Nawicki, played by Robert Knepper; the Red Sox-obsessed informant Elliot, portrayed by Mike O'Malley; and the lumbering Elvis-inspired Pulaski, played by Devin Ratray.
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