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ABOUT TIME

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 everything matter."

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 sustain him."

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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