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Casting The Ensemble
Just as Pitch Black was an ensemble piece in which the character of Riddick functioned as the pivot, Twohy and Diesel sought to continue this tradition by recruiting an international cast of true renown, many of them veterans of classical theatre…and one, an authentic treasure of every medium, delighting herself with an immersion into a zone previously unexplored in her amazing career.

Most importantly for Diesel was to convince Dame Judi Dench to play Aereon. "I've wanted to work with Judi Dench forever,” he admits. "She's always been the immediate response to the question of who's my favorite actor. It was very important for me to enroll her in this. She added credibility and set the stage to attract other fine actors to the film.”

Twohy comments, "The character of Aereon is mischievous, and we needed somebody to come to it and imbue her with a certain gravitas. The casting of Judi Dench helped to keep a very light-footed character very grounded.”

To attract Dench to the role, Diesel flew to London to watch her perform onstage, and filled her dressing room with flowers. She agreed to read the The Chronicles of Riddick script and was "terribly flattered that somebody of Vin's age wanted me to be in his picture.” She had, of course, already scored some ‘street credibility' as James Bond's boss, M, in the most recent incarnations of that venerable series, but Dench freely admits, "I've never done a film like this and never one of this magnificent scale.”

Dame Judi proved, as expected, the lure to catch other big fish. Colm Feore, himself no stranger to classical roles, calls her "a woman who can speak volumes with the merest whisper, an actor of great experience and intelligence, of great talent and instinct. She classes the whole project up quite considerably, so I figured that if she said yes, there must be something to this.”

David Twohy describes Colm Feore as "a truly talented and gifted man, a throwback to stage actors of old whose goal was to service the text rather than aggrandize their career. Colm wants to help you tell your story as best he can. Rather than venture down a lot of side streets that really don't move things forward, Colm sees the goal and wants to help you get there.”

Feore himself saw the possibilities in Chronicles as soon as it came his way. "I didn't see it as just a popcorn movie,” he says. "One of the things I admired about David's script was that he was brave enough to layer in things on the page which seemed quite difficult. There are parallels between the worlds depicted in the film and our own history. Lord Marshal thinks he's bringing civilization to the vast darkness, with the attitude of ‘if you don't join us, we will utterly destroy you.' And in conquering these worlds after our fashion, we have to be able to residually impose upon them the order and infrastructure that will keep it going…while being able to squash rebellion when it arises.”

Like most actors who play villains, Feore had to find a point of empathy with Lord Marshal, leader of the race whose overriding goal is to cleanse the universe of all human life. "I don't see him as an evil man,” he says matter-of-factly. "He's a warrior priest. He's called ‘Lord Marshal,' but I see him very much like Julius Caesar—a Roman emperor, conquering barbarian lands and bringing under his empire whatever new worlds they come into contact with. In that vein, he looks at Riddick as a man with enormous potential.”

Thandie Newton was cast as the purely evil Dame Vaako. The actress, who tends to play "characters you sympathize with,” loved Dame Vaako's "unashamed lust for power. It was very different from anything I've ever played before, and I really had to fill a regal pair of shoes. It's not something that comes naturally to me, to have that kind of poise, stature and authority.”

Karl Urban, wh

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