About The Casting
The biggest change from
Possession to Possession was the decision to make the character of
Roland Michell an American. In the novel, he is a working-class Briton. In
making the movie's Roland an American within the closed English academic
world, he could be seen expressly as an outsider.
As Neil LaBute
explains, "I turned Roland into an American because I knew less about the
class structure in England than about being someone from another nation spending
time in a different society. I did a fellowship at the Royal Court Theatre and
poached a bit from there, just in terms of the way they looked at me as an
American playwright — I felt louder and more aggressive than I have ever felt
in my life. There was a sense of decorum that I tended to overstep without
thinking about it, which I tried to imbue Roland with. The impulsive nature of
his character brims over in a way that he can't control. For me, this story
offered a very potent idea in having two colleagues from very different mindsets
and cultures igniting a spark which came not only from them being male and
female but also from being products of two different societies."
Paula Weinstein notes,
"Roland is driven by passion for his work. He often steps outside the lines
of the text and the way that things have always been done. He makes connections
which may not even be there, but rushes on, fueled by his love of what he might
Aaron Eckhart, cast as
Roland, sees the character as "a guy who's run away from a situation in
his past in America. He's in a job he loves, but he really wants to be an
artist, and he's now writing about poets. Possession shows the journey
he makes to find his heart through Maud, and pursue his true calling."
Eckhart was able to
strongly relate to the character: "We've all been in a situation where we're
running from something and we don't know what to do with our life. I have a
lot of similarities with Roland physically, spiritually, and emotionally. It's
the human condition and we have to face our problems and appreciate the fact
that love is not perfect, that it hurts, but that you still have to love."
Eckhart and LaBute have
known each other for over a decade. They attended the same school and have
collaborated on stage works and all of LaBute's feature films. Eckhart notes,
"This is our fourth movie together and I think it reflects some sort of
evolution not only in our film work, as we become more experienced in our
trades, but also in the material that we choose. This is unknown territory for
both of us — especially for Neil, who had to take on the Victorians
in adapting a novel. We can't believe that we're working with these people
and having these amazing experiences. I feel we have a great understanding of
each other's work: we ask each other a lot of questions and then I beg Neil
for direction. We have a trust which has developed."
LaBute adds, "I've
worked with Aaron enough that I think he can do pretty much anything I might
throw out as an idea — he's always interested in experimenting. He loves to
dress up in different clothes and find himself a new character. There was a
comfort zone of working with him that made absolute sense for Possession.
Essential to the movie
is the chemistry between Roland, the unconventional outsider, and the far more
pragmatic Maud. She constantly restrains herself,<
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