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Casting The Clearing
"The two actors I've always wanted as Eileen and Wayne were Helen Mirren and Robert Redford,” says Pieter Jan Brugge. "I was extraordinarily lucky on my first outing as a director to have both of them and for them to respond the way they did to the script. They had to have a sense of faith, trust and confidence to allow themselves to be vulnerable. It is out of that vulnerability that they could breathe life into the characters.”

Wayne is described as "`the man Hertz and Avis are afraid of.' He is the self-made maverick who started his own car rental business and became a great success. We had to have somebody who has the aspects of an icon,” says Brugge. "And there is no greater icon in filmmaking who is as gifted an actor as Robert Redford. When you look at the performances he has given in all of his films, they are remarkable.”

Redford responded to THE CLEARING and agreed to star as Wayne, a complicated character who is cold-heartedly plucked from his life and forced into negotiating for his life. "The script had what I always look for--a good story with interesting characters,” says Redford. "It was extraordinarily well crafted and had a simple elegance to it that was appealing to me. It had a first-time writer and a first-time director, which fits comfortably with what I believe in supporting. So what better way than to put your money where your mouth is and get in it?” After spending time with Brugge, Redford felt confident in his vision for the film. "He was intelligent and not totally inexperienced. He knew the business. He had such a grip on the story and a vision of what he wanted to say. As an actor I appreciated that and wanted to support him.”

But Redford adds that Brugge also had the foresight to allow the story to unfold naturally. "As an actor, you want to know the director has a point of view that they are going to stick with, generally. But you also want them to stay flexible within a certain kind of frame, so they can find things that might be new. Sometimes a director who is too commanding cannot see the woods for the trees -- and the woods is the film.”

For Redford, Wayne symbolizes how success comes with a price. "What is the cost to family relationships? Does the drive to succeed override their emphasis because you're working so hard? Then you find out late in your career that you might have missed something.”

Wayne and Eileen committed to the dream together. "She's supportive of his ability to be free enough to pursue his dream,” describes Redford. "Along the way, the relationship changes; they're not even aware of a drift that takes place. There's no lack of love. It's just that a chill floats into the relationship. And then something happens that's dire and of crisis proportions that makes them realize they are about to miss something, and they want it back before it's too late. They're incapable of dealing with something that should be addressed. In this case, right at that moment, comes the kidnapping.”

Helen Mirren gave her exceptional talent to the role of Eileen Hayes. A powerful presence on screen, Mirren embodies Eileen with a quiet strength and composure in the face of uncertainty and danger. "One is constantly looking for an interesting, relevant role in a good script,” Mirren remarks. "I often look for a kind of reaction to the thing that I've just done. If I've done something big and extreme (GOSFORD PARK), then I look for something quieter and more personal.”

In addition to the enticing role of Eileen, Mirren relished the opportunity to work with Robert Redford. "If Robert Redford was a Brit,” Mirren says "he would be Lord Robert Redford by now because he has given so much to my profession. I'm immensely respectful of that and love him for that. He has made a huge impact on film through Sundance, which has affected actors, directors and writers by changing the

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