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RONIN

The Casting
The casting process was equally copacetic

The casting process was equally copacetic. "I love actors and respect them tremendously," notes Frankenheimer, "and I think that casting a movie is a terribly important function of the director, who must establish a good relationship with the actors or the work will suffer. I ask myself if a particular actor works in a way that is compatible with mine. I know that I have made the right choices if, after two or three weeks of shooting, I feel that nobody but that actor could play that part."

"Robert DeNiro's participation enhanced the creative credibility of this project, and a lot of actors wanted to be in the film because of him," producer Mancuso adds. "As a result, we were able to cast the movie the way we wanted. All of our actors feel very real and urgent - this cast is a carefully assembled collection."

"Robert DeNiro is very accomplished actor with an amazing sense of truth that he projects in everything he does," says Frankenheimer. "He has an extraordinary physical presence, even in the scenes where he does nothing. De Niro is one of the two or three actors I've ever worked with who has the ability to surprise me with the way he looks, moves or says his lines."

"We were lucky to cast Jean Reno as Vincent," the director continues. "Reno has the same magical rapport with the camera that you see with DeNiro. He has this great face, an imposing presence and is a lovely human being, which comes across in his performance."

Frankenheimer had seen Natascha McElhone hold her own opposite Anthony Hopkins in Surviving Picasso. "She was Dierdre, the Irish revolutionary," Frankenheimer recalls. "I wanted to make sure that she and DeNiro got along and worked well together, so we did a test with both of them and the chemistry was perfect."

Likewise, the director was drawn to Stellan Skarsgard's strength in several films and chose him for the role of Gregor. Skipp Sudduth, who plays Larry, had just worked with the director on George Wallace.

For the small but critical role of Jean-Pierre, the director turned to Michael Lonsdale. "I had worked with Michael Lonsdale twice before. I knew that we needed a great actor for that key scene in which the film's central metaphor of the Ronin is explained, and Michael was brilliant," Frankenheimer remembers.

"Finally, we were lucky to be able to get Jonathan Pryce for the small but vital role of Seamus," Frankenheimer concludes. "Making Ronin was a great experience, and I loved working with this wonderful group of people who all got along well and helped each other."

A widely acclaimed feature film and television director for over 40 years, Frankenheimer enjoys a reputation as "an actor's director."

"When I'm shooting a picture, I try to create an environment for the actors that is safe for them and where they feel at ease," the director explains. "I never lie to them and I never manipulate them - we are very upfront with each other, and we have honest relationships. My big thing is trying to help people overcome whatever fears they may have; when I succeed in that, the actor can open himself up and give his best. I want my set to be a place where actors and technicians feel free to do their best work."

"John genuinely likes actors, and has extensive technical experience, which was helpful for everyone in the cast of Ronin," observes Robert DeNiro. "He has great energy, a terrific sense of humor<

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