Feeling Loved Up: Casting ABOUT TIME
From the start, the producers and casting director
FIONA WEIR knew performer Domhnall Gleeson would
be ideal for the role of the time-traveling Tim Lake.
However, he did quite shock them upon introduction.
In the midst of filming Anna Karenina, Gleeson
arrived at a meeting with Curtis, sporting a head of long
hair and bushy beard. Laughs Curtis of the meeting:
"At first, Domhnall was very difficult to cast. He turned
up with this enormous orange beard, and he looked like
a 35-year-old Russian autocrat. It was hard for me to
imagine what he actually even looked like, but in the
end it was an easy decision. He has a lot of the qualities
I most love in an actor and actually has them as a human
being. He has doubt, high spirits and optimism, and he
is very funny."
His rugged exterior aside, producers were keen
on the Irish actor joining the production as their lead. Compliments Bevan: "Domhnall is a brilliant young
actor and has the ability to be extremely dramatic and
very funny, which is a very unusual combination."
The producer didn't mind that his lead, heretofore best
known for his pivotal role in the Harry Potter series,
was an unorthodox choice. Bevan continues, "It's
refreshing to see a new face playing a lead in a Richard
Curtis film -- a different face and not a posh boy -- he
gives the film a whole different feel."
The minute About Time begins, audiences see Tim
as a normal guy. He's a slightly confused, but very
likeable hero, who is going through his life with the
same level of confidence the majority of ordinary
people can muster. "You love Tim's character from the
beginning," reflects Kentish Barnes. "You want him to
succeed when he meets the love of his life."
When Gleeson first read the script, he laughed
aloud, which he took as quite the promising sign.
Reflects the performer: "It was sweet relief reading
the script. It had so much to say about a way of living
your life that I found valuable and beautiful. That was
Richard's introduction to the film for me, and that was
what I tried to keep close to my heart while we filmed."
With Gleeson on board the production, filmmakers
moved forward in casting the role of Mary, the young
American woman with whom Tim falls in love, marries
and starts a family. Because of Rachel McAdams' busy
schedule, the filmmakers weren't certain she would
be able to join the production. Little did they know,
however, that she adored the script.
Curtis was thrilled that an actress of McAdams'
caliber had signed onto the film. He muses: "Rachel is
someone, who every time I've seen her in a film, I have
melted with this sense of comfort and love. We were
certainly lucky to get her."
Bevan agrees that McAdams was absolutely perfect
for the role, commending: "Rachel has that great girl-
next-door quality. She has the beauty, the humor and the
wit, but she also has the ability as an actress to make
whomever she is playing against look equally as great."
McAdams recalls what drew her to the part: "I
enjoyed the script immensely and loved what it was
about. It was quite moving with a very simple, but
so meaningful moral of the story, and I loved all the
characters. I knew that signing onto a Richard Curtis
film was just a good package deal; he does these things so well. He is very generous with his spirit and brings
so much of himself to the project."
The performer appreciated that the expatriate was
as complex as her on-screen love, sharing, "Mary's got
this funny mix of confidence and total insecurity. But
then she meets Tim, and she just blossoms. He ushers
her in the direction she was meant to go in, and the
puzzle pieces fit, finally."
For the seasoned young performer, working with
Gleeson was a surprising joy. She enthuses: "It's been
wonderful to watch Domhnall transform from the
younger Tim to the older Tim. He has this endless
energy for physical comedy, and his comedic timing is
impeccable. He always seems to find humor. Domhnall
is so grounded, so rooted in the character, and he makes
Her leading man, Gleeson, returns the kind words:
"Rachel brings this gorgeous honesty to her character.
She's very funny, and she brings something that is pure
and uncomplicated in the best possible sense. It was
joyous being on set with her all the time."
In casting the role of
Tim's Dad, filmmakers
turned to a veteran of
Curtis' films: much-feted
performer Bill Nighy, first
introduced in a Curtis role
as a washed-up rocker in
Love Actually. "Tim's Dad
is a strange synthesis of
a lot of people I've met,"
explains Curtis. "There's a
lot of my feeling about my
father in the role, and it was
a fun idea to have Bill play
the part. To cast a friend
you actually love in that
part was a great pleasure."
About Time marks
Nighy's fourth project
with Curtis, as the men have also partnered on Pirate
Radio and The Girl in the Cafe. "I love working with
Richard," states Nighy, who offers a bit of perspective
on Tim's Dad. "My character can travel through
time, and the lesson he has learned in his life is to
keep things simple and treasure the normal things.
What counts is tenderness, love and respect between
yourself and other human beings. All those things
While he is the most studied actor in the cast, Nighy
gives credit where credit is due. He states: "Rachel and
Domhnall complement each other in their spirit and
their general tone of their performances. They are very
impressive people and actors."
Opposite Nighy's character, LINDSAY DUNCAN
took the role of Tim's Mum, the matriarch of the family --
a woman who curiously styles herself on the Queen.
"Apart from her dress scenes, she's great," muses Duncan.
"She is the anchor of the family and very centered. The
way she goes about life is rather refreshing and admirable.
She has made her choices, and she gets on with it."
Duncan echoes her cast through her commending
of Curtis' style: "Richard gets to your heart. You do cry
when you read his scripts; you cry about falling in love,
and you cry about people's pain as well. This film is all
about everyday things that people deal with: living their
lives, loving people, wanting people and suffering from
the loss of loved ones."
Her on-screen son has words for her work. "Bill
and Lindsay were just ideal parents," recalls Gleeson.
"They are so wonderful and genuine, and as actors it
made it a nice environment to be with them all the time.
I had seen them in films and knew they were brilliant,
but I was not prepared for just how easy it would be to
be surrounded by them. Richard was very clever in the
way that he assembled the cast. It made the family feel
very real, and I was very happy in their company and
felt really loved up."
To join the company as Harry, Tim's easily angered
landlord in London, the filmmakers asked Tom
Hollander -- so remarkable as the arrogant rector, Mr.
Collins, in 2005's Pride & Prejudice. "When you first
leave home, you always end up living with people you
least want to live with," notes Curtis. "So I thought it
would be fun that, when Tim leaves home, he should
end up with the least pleasant man in the world. The
great joy about Tom is that he's very good at being very
bad and nasty, but underneath the swear box that he's
playing is a wonderful man."
Hollander reciprocates Curtis' words: "Richard
is a sweet-natured man with boundless energy and
always has time for people individually. He is a very
special chap who has his own idealism about the
world. That is what informs the good-hearted, loving
nature of his romantic comedies. At least, that's what
he told me to say."
Young actress LYDIA WILSON was brought
aboard to play Tim's beloved sister, Kit Kat, who has
a very intricate role in Tim's life. She turns out to be
the only person, outside of his father, with whom
Tim shares his time-traveling abilities. Wilson, who
previously had a part in Mark Romanek's Never Let
Me Go and had appeared in the television series
South Riding, brilliantly infuses chaos into Tim's
sometimes-futile attempts at an orderly existence.
His efforts to try and rescue her from her myriad bad
decisions influence the course of his life with Mary
and their children.
Rounding out the cast is Margot Robbie who
plays Tim's first love, Charlotte, a young woman who
enters Tim's life when he's discovered he can time travel. Explains Curtis: "When Charlotte stays with
the Lakes over that summer, Tim utilizes his time-
traveling abilities to redo every situation and make
it perfect with Charlotte. But it never eventuates that
way, despite his efforts."
RICHARD CORDERY was chosen to play
Tim's simple-minded but well-meaning uncle, while
JOSHUA McGUIRE and WILL MERRICK play
Tim's best friends. VANESSA KIRBY was brought
on as Mary's best friend, and TOM HUGHES as Kit
Kat's ne'er-do-well boyfriend.
Brilliant character actors RICHARD E. GRANT
and the late RICHARD GRIFFITHS also make
appearances in the film, playing leads in Harry's play.
This scene proved one of Curtis' most challenging
and fun days. Says Curtis: "It was tricky having three
Richards on the set, as when anyone said 'Richard' we
never knew which Richard it referred to."
Of the cast, Kentish Barnes sings their praises:
"There is not a crack in our cast. They're all absolutely
brilliant, and they're exceptionally great people as well,
so we've achieved over 100 percent on that one."
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