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The Cast And The Characters

"When I speak of home, I speak of the place where…those I love

are gathered together; and if that place were a gypsy's tent, or a barn,

I should call it by the same good name notwithstanding."

- Nicholas in Nicholas Nickleby

In looking at the hundreds of characters Dickens created in his writings, Nicholas Nickleby is one of his most pure. "There are no flaws in Nicholas other than his desire to overcome evil and reunite his family," says Sharp.

"For young people today, it's very hard to find a hero to really root for," he continues. "There are superheroes – Spiderman, Batman and the like – but I think Nicholas is a character they can relate to from their own world. In high schools across the globe, students are grappling with issues of violence and evil. It's important they can identify with a character like Nicholas. In a world as violent as ours, it's important for everyone."

Through his adventures, Nickleby faces an incredible series of trials and heartbreaks. As a result, he changes a lot over the course of the film and grows from a naïve teenager into a man. It's a tricky part to play, and casting Nicholas was naturally of tantamount importance to the success of the project.

"While keeping within the character Dickens created," says Hart. "Doug envisioned a Nicholas that also embodied a flare of modernity that would appeal to younger audiences. We spent a good while looking for a unique blend of young and handsome, dashing and contemporary, yet someone who had the maturity to pull off a very serious role.

"Charlie has that sense of gravity about him," Hart continues, "and has a very strong presence. He was so passionate about the role he flew himself to New York to meet with us. He delivered his lines with a sense of authority that was quite special for someone his age. He really embodies the wonderful, wide-eyed optimism of the character."

McGrath adds, "Charlie has many important qualities he brings to the role, not least of which is his youth. Nicholas is often cast older than he is, but he's supposed to be nineteen. To me that's one of the key points in the story – someone that young has been cut loose and finds himself the head of the family. Charlie's look helps to sell that dilemma, and he has a natural warmth and vigor which help the audience identify with his situation."

Of his character, Hunnam says, "Nicholas is a quiet, well-mannered, very moral young man." It's precisely because Nicholas is such a good person, though, that he's so apt to fall victim to bad situations and evildoers. "Having grown up in the quiet Devonshire countryside," Hunnam continues, "he's never really encountered people like his Uncle Ralph. He's very trusting and honest himself, and doesn't realize that not everybody is like that."

…there was something in [his] very wrinkles, and in his cold restless eye, which seemed to tell of cunning that would announce itself in spite of him.

- Charles Dickens, describing Ralph Nickleby

Nickleby's Uncle Ralph is<

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