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ALEXANDER

Finding Alexander
How does a filmmaker cast a role that is larger than life? In the case of Alexander, it meant finding an actor who was eminently human, yet physically impressive and who possessed the range to paint a full portrait of the complex character. Stone found his man in Irish actor Colin Farrell, star of such films as Tigerland, Minority Report, Phone Booth and The Recruit. 

"Like Alexander, Colin has the spirit of a rebel and the confidence of a warrior and a leader. He became Alexander on many levels – he led the actors as a group, he built himself up physically, mastered the horse and sword, and fought like a lion to give his best. I often offered to replace him with a stuntman, both on horse and foot, but he truly wanted to hang in there himself and do as many of his own stunts as possible. As crazy as he might be sometimes, he is one of nature's noblemen. It's an honor to have met him at such a moment in his life.”

"Oliver wrote an incredible script,” says the actor. "I never in my life read anything as dark and as light and as full of potential as that script. It was, very simply, the best I had ever read in my life.  "Alexander was a man who would stop at absolutely nothing to achieve his dreams,” Farrell continues, "which I truly believe were based on much more than greed and the desire for conquest. All his life, Alexander was looking for answers, and I also think that he was looking for love all his life. Alexander had an almost insane passion for everything he did. He could have lived a fine life in Macedonia in his palace, taxing his people and enjoying the luxury befitting a king. But there was a hole in his chest that couldn't be filled, and his search for answers took him to the ends of the earth.” Farrell took his inspiration not only from the man he was portraying, but also from the man who created the film. "Oliver is more Alexander than I could hope to be,” the actor states. "He strives for excellence at any cost. He's an amazing filmmaker and he's a brilliant leader. Oliver is always working his arse off. We wrap, and while we all bitch about what a long day it's been, he's off to the editing suite. The man is a complete inspiration to be around.”

Central to Alexander's character are the expectations and deeply held beliefs put upon him by his mother, the intense Olympias. "Part of what the movie deals with is Alexander's bargain with his mother,” says Stone. "In our script, Olympias tells Alexander, ‘In you lives the light of this world. Your companions will long be shadows in the underworld, when you will be the one, forever young, forever inspiring – never will there be an Alexander like you – Alexander the Great.' Olympias put the mythology into Alexander's head that he had a destiny that was equal to Achilles, and that like Achilles, he would die young. That was the trade-off. Great fame, but early death, as opposed to long life and little glory.”

It was essential that Stone find a talented actress who possessed the intensity, presence and passion to play the woman who would set Alexander the Great on his path to destiny. His choice was Academy Award-winning actress Angelina Jolie. "I met Angelina soon after she did Gia,” recalls Stone, "and I thought she was a spectacular young actress. A lot of modern actresses play the polite middle, but with Angelina, you have more of the Bette Davis tradition. She goes for it in a strong, determined way, and it's rare to see that with young actors. They don't have that confidence. But Angelina had developed a strength that was just right for Olympias. You couldn't ask for a better match.” 

Jolie was attracted to the challenge of bringing to life a woman who has intrigued readers of history for centuries. "I think you have to love every character you play,” says Jolie, "and understand them or at least support their flaws. If you think they're crazy or just wrong,

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