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About The Production (Continued)
It was the role of Jesse Tuck that became the most difficult to cast. "It took me months to find Jesse," Jay Russell recalls. "I realized after I'd met a number of wonderful young actors that a lot of them have a very modern feel. I was looking for a young actor who had a timeless quality. Handsome, yes, but not just for its own sake. I needed an actor who could be the handsome young romantic hero, but again bringing a depth and a gravity of a much older man. When Jonathan Jackson walked in the room, I got the sense that 50 years from now an audience will still be interested in watching his performance. He won't become dated next year or in 10 years."

Jonathan Jackson relates, "I love the fact that Jesse is very extreme in his joy of life. It's pretty rare to see that in people. I think it's a contagious kind of joy. Jesse's view is that he should try to do everything he can to enjoy being alive, and that includes falling in love."

He continues, "Jesse, like most people, has a natural desire to want to spend his life with somebody; to have a real companion. Winnie is his first love and the only thing that makes sense to Jesse is to have Winnie be able to stay with him, if she wants to."

Sissy Spacek adds, "Jesse is the most like Mae, but while she lives in the moment, Jesse lives for the moment."

"Jonathan was a very good match for Alexis," Abraham notes. "Sometimes, casting comes down to taking a chance and hoping that your actors have chemistry. The director can help foster that, but ultimately, it's in the hands of the actors. Jonathan and Alexis made it seem like they were made for each other."

Scott Bairstow plays Jesse's older brother, Miles. Director Jay Russell discloses, "To me, Miles Tuck is quite possibly the most interesting character in the entire film. Miles is the character who has experienced the tragedy, the loss of his family."

Natalie Babbitt adds, "Miles presents one of life's deeper experiences.

Scott Bairstow recounts, "Miles represents the pain and hardship of life. Whereas Jesse personifies all that's great and wonderful about living, Miles has a lot of questions, a lot of anger, a lot of sadness about his loss of love and the loss of his own wife and children. They all died. He had to live. His take on what's happened is tragic and he is bitter."

"I knew I had to find a young actor who could understand the tragedy. It's Shakespearean, at the very least. Scott came in, and in his cold reading he captured exactly what I was looking for in the part. He became very emotional in his cold reading audition. The words moved him to tears, and I knew he understood the character," continues director Russell.

But Scott Bairstow says, "The one question Jay Russell had for me was whether I could ride a horse. I told him I could."

Casting Mother Foster and Robert Foster, Winnie's parents, presented another, different kind of challenge for Jay Russell. "It was very important for me that the Fosters look like a family and that the Tucks look like a family. Once I cast Alexis Bledel as Winnie, I started thinking about who looks like they could be her parents and are good actors on<


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