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THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

The Cast & Characters
For director Joel Schumacher and producer-composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, casting their film version of Phantom proved to be an exceptional challenge. 

Schumacher envisioned the film as a sexy young love story, and set out to cast fresh new actors in the principal roles. This was especially vital in casting Christine, a naïve, orphaned teenager who believes the Phantom's voice calling to her from the shadows of the opera house is the "Angel of Music” her dying father promised to send her. 

"Part of the beauty of the character is her innocence, her attachment to her father and her belief that the Phantom might actually be a representation of him from beyond the grave,” Schumacher notes. "We needed to find a young woman who could exude a genuine youthful innocence and longing, and at the same time, we had to find two wildly charismatic actors to play the two men she is torn between.”

"One of Joel's trademarks is that he finds talented young actors who are just about to break through,” says Lloyd Webber, who entrusted the acting aspect of the casting process to Schumacher while he strived to achieve the perfect "vocal balance” between the candidates who demonstrated they possessed the vocal chops to perform his libretto of sophisticated songs. "It was absolutely crucial that we have people who could really sing,” he emphasizes, "because song drives the entire piece.” 

Set in Paris in 1870, The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of a disfigured musical genius who terrifies the denizens of the Opera Populaire, the city's premiere opera house. When he falls fatally in love with Christine, the Phantom devotes himself to creating a new star for the Opera, exerting a strange sense of control over the young soprano as he nurtures her extraordinary talents.

The role of the eponymous Phantom demanded an actor who radiates a charismatic intensity. "We needed somebody who has a bit of rock and roll sensibility in him,” Lloyd Webber says. "He's got to be a bit rough, a bit dangerous; not a conventional singer. Christine is attracted to the Phantom because he's the right side of danger, so we had to find an actor who could deliver that vocal quality.”

The filmmakers found the myriad qualities they were looking for in Gerard Butler, best known to American audiences for his starring role opposite Angelina Jolie in the 2003 blockbuster Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. "Gerry Butler has got a great rock tenor voice,” Lloyd Webber praises.

"I saw Gerry Butler in Dracula 2000 and he had such incredible screen presence, I wanted to meet him,” Schumacher recounts. "He's a wonderful actor and I knew he would make a stunning Phantom.”

Butler was not familiar with the stage production when Schumacher initially approached him about the role, so he listened to the original cast recording while reading the screenplay for the first time. "It just blew me away. By the end of the script, I had tears streaming down my face,” says the actor, who has since seen the musical in London and on Broadway. "I really identified with the character of the Phantom, with his passion, his longing and artistry, as well as the pain and isolation he's felt all his life.

"I think that's why Phantom is such a powerful piece, because people identify with his pain,” Butler muses. "The older you get, the more you develop baggage in your life – things you don't want to let go of, things you fear that if you open them up to the world, the world will find you repulsive and ugly.”

To prepare for his audition for Lloyd Webber, Butler took singing lessons on the sly, and rehearsed with Phantom musical director Simon Lee. Butler recalls his moment of truth: "Suddenly I'm standing in front of Andrew Lloyd Webber, in his house. Simon was playing the piano, reminding me to breathe, and I thought, I'm about to sing ‘Music of the Night,' one of

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