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THE HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY

The Casting of the Characters
One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about humans was their habit of continuously stating and repeating the very, very obvious, as in It's a nice day, or You're very tall, or Oh dear you seem to have fallen down a thirty-foot well, are you all right?—Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

As the look of THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY started to come together, yet another challenge lay on the horizon: the casting of some of literature's most beloved, yet highly unusual, characters, who range from a most ordinary man sent rocketing into space to a two-headed rebel of a galactic President to a depressed robot with a brain the size of a planet.

For director Garth Jennings, nothing was more important than finding the right band of hip, smart, merry eccentrics to pull off the tone of the project—and to bring to it a 21st Century sensibility. "I knew that no matter how inventive the script and design might be, it all had to come to life in the performances,” he says. "This cast that we put together is an extraordinary bunch of very weird and wonderful people—and in their own ways, they're a lot like their characters. But what's been most amazing to me is how well they work together. When you put them all in the same place, they are just brilliantly funny. They're chaotic, and directing them is a bit like supervising a children's tea party, but the results are very, very good.”

It all begins with hapless Arthur Dent, whose bad day takes a dramatic turn when he is forced to leave his imminently exploding planet and take off for unknown stellar destinations on an incredible adventure with a frustrating lack of tea. To capture one of the most envied heroes in the sci-fi genre—yet also one of the most ordinary men in literary history—the filmmakers searched for a relatively unknown actor who could be at once unremarkable in a Dent-like fashion yet spectacularly funny.

They found what they were looking for in British comic star Martin Freeman, best known for his work in the runaway British comedy television hit "The Office.” "Martin may well be the most straightforward, typical man you could ever find,” says Jennings. "But there's also something very contemporary and edgy about him that helps move the story into our times.” Adds Nick Goldsmith: "Martin was right in tune with Douglas' sense of humor. The jokes that came out of his mouth sounded natural and never contrived. It takes a certain sort of person to be able to say, ‘I never could get the hang of Thursdays,' and have the humor come through, and Martin has that gift.”

Freeman saw the role as one no actor could possibly refuse. "I would say that getting the opportunity to play the last man on Earth is always attractive to an actor,” he surmises. "I quite fancied that.” The actor continues: "I also loved the story because it's about so many things, some of them ludicrous and some of them profound. And a lot of the profundity comes from the ludicrousness and vice versa. In a way, I see it as being about what it's like to be alive— to be alone, to be in love, to be flummoxed and to be amazed.”

Freeman found himself getting deeper into Arthur's personal journey—as he moves from the ordinary to the beyond-belief. "Arthur's quite an interesting character, because the world around him changes radically, leaving him to have to catch up,” he observes. "The rug is completely pulled out from under his feet in every way. He loses his planet. He falls in love. He realizes his friend is actually from outer space. So circumstances really force him to change as well. He starts out, of course, being the usual passive Englishman who keeps saying "what's going on here?” to realizing he's the one who needs to take control.”

Though Freeman was acutely aware that the novel's legions of fans have<

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