Heirs to the House of Abrasax
Titus: "Lies are a necessity. They are the source of meaning. Of belief and
hope. Honestly, lies are sometimes the only reason I get out of bed."
Though human, the Abrasax have a culture far more ancient than mankind's
brief tenure on Earth and consider themselves so evolutionarily superior that
they retain only the merest echo of their common ancestry.
Lana Wachowski introduces the ruling dynasty by explaining, "Every single
person in the world experiences and wrestles with the idea of status. It's a
very human concept to see society as a pyramid, where some lives matter more
than others. A lot of terrible things in the real world have been justified by
that kind of thinking."
When Seraphi Abrasax died, following a nearly 100,000-year reign as the
family's ageless sovereign, her vast planetary holdings and industrial concerns,
including the Earth, passed to her estranged and competitive progeny: Balem, the
eldest; Kalique, his sister; and Titus, their younger brother. But whatever
previously fueled the siblings' rivalry is nothing compared to the discovery of
Jupiter Jones-a woman whose genome makes her essentially the legal proxy of
Seraphi herself, superseding all other claims.
They know what Jupiter's very existence means to them and their future, and
each has his or her own strategy for dealing with her.
Eddie Redmayne stars as the ruthless Balem, current head of Abrasax
Industries, who has only just begun to savor the expansion of wealth and power
that his mother's passing provided when he gets the bitter news. Having the most
to lose, his response is swift and absolute. He wants Jupiter dead.
"He's a damaged, really evil person who seems completely unstable at the
beginning of the film and only gets worse," says Redmayne, whose
characterization of Balem reveals a
personality so tightly wound that he speaks in a controlled, ominous
whisperâ€¦until those moments when he bursts into a rage.
Citing the way "Jupiter Ascending" weaves so many storytelling elements
together, he says, "It's such an extraordinary combination of something
completely contemporary and modern, science-fiction and original, but with
echoes of almost Shakespearean and Greek drama in the relationships between the
siblings and their mother and the complexity of family. You don't hear much of
Balem's back-story but clearly a lot of things have happened to bring him to the
extremity and isolation that is his life and that's what makes him so
Additionally, the actor observes, "Balem's obsession is profit, and the idea
that profiting financially is the only way to move forward in life. It's
interesting to see that cold and mercenary point of view juxtaposed against
Jupiter's, which is of love and learning to love."
Contrary to Balem's blatant display, Kalique prefers advising and befriending
this newfound member of the family. Or maybe she's just reluctant to reveal her
hand so soon. Tuppence Middleton, who stars as the middle Abrasax heir, believes
"Kalique is very much intrigued by Jupiter, who bears such a resemblance to her
mother. I think she wants to find out as much as she can about her and how much
of a threat she might be to their power, so that she'll know how to play her
Diverting Balem's bounty hunters with the offer of a better deal, Kalique
warmly welcomes Jupiter to the tranquil, water-themed surroundings of her home
planet. There, the eternally youthful Kalique-who is, in fact, 14,000 years
old-provides more of the missing pieces of the puzzle for Jupiter, who is still
struggling to comprehend the enormity of her circumstances.
"It's important that they're from different worlds," says Middleton. "There's
a great contrast between them, Kalique being wise, older, and a bit world-weary,
and having a very calm pace, compared to Jupiter's energy, strength, and spunk.
There's almost a sisterly feeling to their encounter."
However it's Titus, played by Douglas Booth, who takes the most inventive
approach. While giving the impression of a charming and spoiled playboy with an
admittedly cavalier relationship to the truth, Titus' devotion to his own
comfort and hedonistic pursuits belie a fierce ambition and a mind every bit as
calculating as Balem's.
"It's interesting to see or guess at everyone's motives," says Booth. "My
character doesn't want his brother or sister to have the Earth, which, among
their other planetary holdings, is kind of the jewel in the crown and has a big
market value. Balem currently holds the title, but, if Jupiter is who they think
she is, it would be rightfully hers. That would impact Balem's position in the
market and reduce his yield, and that's good for Titus."
Neither as direct as Balem, nor as subtle as Kalique, Titus plots his own
coup to eliminate this new challenge to his inheritance while simultaneously
outmaneuvering his siblings for a bigger stake of the family fortune. The key
for him is to keep Jupiter alive, at least for the moment.
Among the actors in key supporting roles, James D'Arcy strikes a poignant but
inspirational figure as Jupiter's doomed father, Maximillian Jones. An
idealistic astrophysicist who died before her birth, he bestowed upon his child
a distinctive name and the potential for seeing the beauty of the cosmos.
"Cloud Atlas" alumna Doona Bae tears into her first action role as Razo, a
fierce off-world hybrid and bounty hunter. Razo pilots an anti-gravity sled
called The Bullet-which the Wachowskis describe as a cross between a motorcycle
and a torpedo-in a fight where she and her crew attempt to hijack Jupiter from
Actor, writer and director Terry Gilliam meanwhile takes a wickedly humorous
turn as the Seal and Signet Minsiter, a malcontented civil servant in a
labyrinth of bureaus comprising the Commonwealth Ministry, where Jupiter must
secure her royal credentials. Film fans will recognize the homage to Gilliam's
masterwork, "Brazil." "Playing a cranky old fart is quite easy," says Gilliam.
"Just bend over, hunch up and start talking in weird voices and off you go. It's
the first time in a very long time that I've done anything in front of the
camera, but the Wachowskis asked if I could be this ancient clerk in this
Brazil-like world, and how could I say no to them? I've always been a fan.
They're smart and they do great work."
Jupiter's terrestrial family includes Maria Doyle Kennedy as her mother,
Aleksa; Frog Stone as Aunt Nino; Jeremy Swift as overbearing uncle Vassily; and
Kick Gurry as her cousin Vladie, a guy with more big ideas than the sense to see
Among those portraying the alien, hybrid and robotic entities that Jupiter
and Caine encounter on their trek through the galaxy are Gugu Mbatha-Raw as
Titus' advisor, Famulus; Tim Pigott-Smith as Kalique's owl-eyed vizier,
Malidictes; and Edward Hogg as Balem's aptly
named legal counsel, Chicanery Night. David Ajala is Ibis, Razo's bounty hunter
partner; Nikki Amuka-Bird is Diomika Tsing, the captain of an Aegis escort ship
who puts herself and her crew in jeopardy to help Caine; and Ariyon Bakare
delivers a motion-capture performance as the fearsome Saurisapian Greeghan, a
winged goliath in Balem's royal guard who is eager-and able-to take Caine apart.
"The entire cast we assembled is fantastic," says Hill. "The film is
populated by so many wonderfully talented actors who inhabit a range of really
fascinating and complex characters."
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