Passenger Manifest: Supporting Cast
With their leading man set, it was time for the filmmakers to find the
supporting cast for Non-Stop. Rona believes that what continues to bring actors
to a Collet-Serra film is the director's deft touch. He says: "Jaume knows
exactly what he wants, and comes prepared. The actors love him and trust him. He
knows where to put the camera and how to make its movement as much a character
as the actors. He gives you a number of options and sets a great tone. We all
rise up around him."
After boarding the plane, Marks is seated next to Jen Summers, played by the
incomparable Julianne Moore. Collet-Serra explains her character's role in the
thriller: "Normally, when you get on a flight you're sitting next to a person
who you're probably never going to see again. Sometimes a conversation happens,
sometimes not. In this movie, Liam and Julianne play two strangers who are
forced to work together because of the events on the flight." Collet-Serra was
thrilled to have Moore, who had previously co-starred with Neeson as his wife in
Chloe, portray Marks' seatmate: "They have incredible chemistry."
Having a performer of Moore's caliber play opposite Neeson elevated the
scenes, sums Rona: "Liam and Julianne together make for an exciting pairing, and
when Julianne walked on the set everyone rose to the challenge. She brings a lot
to the movie because she provides Liam someone to spar with who is equally as
talented. She is likeable and vulnerable, and has all of the elements that you
want out of your leading lady...and she also makes a great suspect."
Moore feels as if the script for Non-Stop is reminiscent of disaster films
like The Towering Inferno, thrillers in which the characters are trapped in
high-stakes peril. She explains: "I like the idea of everybody in a tight space
experiencing the drama at the same time. It reminded me of a '70s movie where
you have all these people in a dangerous situation, and it moves very quickly.
You don't know what's going to happen; you don't know who the bad guy is.
There's a high level of suspense."
Discussing her draw to the character, Moore offers that she was curious about
Jennifer's mysteriousness: "She is someone who comes on with a lot of presence
and is actively seeking a window seat, but you don't know why. You get to know
her as the movie unfolds, but you don't know what her complete backstory is
because she's elusive in telling it."
For Moore, Collet-Serra's commitment to specificity and respect for his team
permeated the production: "Jaume is a wonderful director, and he clearly put a
lot of time and effort into the direction of this film. He knows exactly where
his edit points are, and he shoots to that. He's not somebody who shoots and
shoots and says, 'I'll figure out where this goes later.' He's editing as he
goes, and he knows how each shot cuts to the next. Because of that there's very
little time wasted. He's a master at building suspense and drama and was
absolutely delightful to work with."
She extends those sentiments to her fellow lead. Moore reflects on Neeson's
draw: "Liam is a tremendous actor, a wonderful talent and a great person. In a
piece like this, where he's this big action hero, you need to believe him. You
believe him as this character-somebody with integrity and a desire to solve the
In Non-Stop, Neeson and Moore are supported by a stellar troupe of fellow
performers, known for their work in film and television alike. Producer Silver,
an admitted fan of Downton Abbey, was excited to have Emmy-nominated Michelle
Dockery aboard the production. For the actress, now famous for the role of the
sometimes-haughty Lady Mary, playing a less-patrician flight attendant was
refreshing. The character, Nancy, she explains, "is this very tough,
working-class northern girl who seemingly is fresh and smiley, as most flight
attendants are. But from her background, she has a real toughness underneath."
As for Nancy's connection to the air marshal, it's at first unclear what
their relationship entails. Dockery explains: "Nancy and Bill have a
familiarity. They've been on the same flights together, and she has witnessed a
few of his drunken states during those times. She's aware of his issues, and
that's why she becomes someone that he reaches out to as an ally; she knows him
Although the actress has not previously appeared in a thriller, she admired
Collet-Serra's ability to juggle multiple technical challenges while still
keeping his primary focus on his actors. Dockery notes: "Jaume gives you the
freedom to play around with a scene. He encouraged us all to have fun with it,
even if it was an intense, serious scene or moment. I was impressed with how he
dealt with the constraints and the technical challenges that were set in his
Several of the supporting cast members-and potential murderers-aboard the
harrowing flight include Corey Stoll, who has received critical praise as a
drug-addicted politician on the Netflix original series House of Cards and will
soon star in Guillermo del Toro's television series The Strain as NYPD cop
Austin; Scoot McNairy, the stellar character actor in such films as 12 Years a
Slave and Argo, as the nebbish Tom; and another rising star, Nate Parker of The
Great Debaters and Arbitrage, as technology expert Zack.
Tony-nominated New York-based performer Omar Metwally portrays passenger Dr.
Fahim Nasir, a role that plays upon audience expectations. Metwally shares: "Fahim
is a doctor from England and an observant religious Muslim, so he starts to
attract the suspicion of some of the other passengers. Rather than shying away
from the stereotype, Non-Stop explores it. I imagine the audience will be
thinking, 'It can't be him because he's too stereotypical, but then maybe it's
so obvious that it is...' The film is cool in the way in which it sets up these
different passengers, and we get to know them piece-by-piece. Jaume takes us on
a journey with each character so that we're going back and forth. We trust them,
and then we don't."
Anson Mount, star of the popular television series Hell on Wheels, plays Jack
Hammond, the flight's second air marshal, and the thorn in Marks' side. Mount
enjoyed the chance not only to act opposite Neeson, but engage in stunts on set:
"It's great to work with Liam in an action capacity, because he's infinitely
patient and likes nailing all the physical stuff. You have to be willing to work
when you do action. You have to be willing to rehearse and deal with the
choreography and prepare for some slow, slow days."
As for those slow days, McNairy, who plays passenger Tom Bowen, jokes that
spending 12 hours a day on the plane set was akin to "waking up every morning
and flying to Australia." But he was grateful for the opportunity to work with
the filmmakers and his fellow cast, who developed a solid rapport with one
another. Truly, on technical days, they would spend downtime together in the
trailers watching such comedies as Airplane!.
Wrapping the supporting cast are Oscar nominee and Screen Actors Guild Award
winner Lupita Nyong'o, who has received many additional critical lauds for her
work in 12 Years a Slave, as Nancy's fellow flight attendant Gwen, as well as
her crewmen: Linus Roache as David, the pilot of the 767; Jason Butler Harner as
Kyle, his co-pilot; and Shea Whigham as Agent Marenick, Marks' TSA contact at
headquarters who refuses to allow a paranoid alcoholic to run his show.
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