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Character-Fueled Villians
To complete the main cast, Scott Frank set out in search of the gang of thieves who recruit Chris Pratt into their plan to steal from the bank. Once again, he had an unusual bill to fill. Far from your standard villains, Gary Spargo and the stripper Luvlee Lemons are complicated people with their own quirks, foibles and stories to tell.

As Gary, the thief who also serves as an inspiration for Chris to come out of his shell, Frank cast Matthew Goode, the British newcomer most recently seen starring as Scarlet Johansson's wealthy fiancé in Woody Allen's acclaimed MATCH POINT. It was this performance that attracted Frank. "Matthew was so surprising in that film, I felt he could do anything,” says the director. "He has a real chameleon-like quality and a dark sense of humor which I really loved and wanted him to bring to the role. The most important thing was that he not be just the bad guy, but a lot more interesting than that.”

The role was definitely interesting to Goode, although it was nothing like the comedic and romantic roles he's played before. "I started reading this script and I thought, this is really a cut above,” he recalls. "And Gary was such a great character. Since I had just shaved my head, I thought maybe I've got a chance for this. Gary is such a mysterious character that there was a lot of leeway to take it in different directions.”

It was Goode's audition that sealed the deal. Explains Roger Birnbaum: "We'd all seen MATCH POINT and thought he was incredible, but Gary was such a different role that we kind of raised our eyebrows at the idea. It was a question mark, but when he came in to read, his head was shaved and he was so dark and handsome and dangerous looking we realized he could be anything. It was a stunning audition.”

Goode understood that the core of the performance had to be the relationship Gary builds with Chris, pulling him with charm, finesse and even a little spiritual uplift into the bank heist and the betrayals to come. "To Gary, I think Chris represents the Wonka Golden Ticket. He knows that he works at the bank so he does everything he can to become a part of his world,” says Goode.

To make this work, Goode also had to find a rapport with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. "To be frank, at first I wasn't sure if we would get along because he's so very, very intelligent,” Goode confesses. "But I thought he was amazing. He has kind of Johnny Depp qualities – he's very intense and he really carried the film. Long story short, it turned out to be a real pleasure.”

For Goode, the biggest challenge was perhaps not so much in the character as in the mechanics of becoming a career criminal. "I've never used a gun before,” he admits, "so that part was quite daunting. But the main thing about Gary is that he lives in a world where everyone is expendable, and he knows it. For him, it's all about getting the money, getting away with it and living the life while you can.”

Gary might see Chris Pratt as expendable, but even so, he winds up expanding Chris's horizons, especially when he introduces him to his stripper friend and partner-in-crime, Luvlee Lemons, whose mission is to seduce Chris. Once again it was a stand out audition that convinced Scott Frank to cast Isla Fisher, recently seen in the hit comedy THE WEDDING CRASHERS.

"We met with lots and lots of young women – it was a hard job but somebody had to it!” laughs Frank. "And then Isla came in and just lit up the room and was so clearly right for the part. We also had her read with Joe and they had great chemistry together. What I loved is that Isla brought a more childlike character to Luvlee. Her whole approach was that she didn't want to play a femme fatale – instead, she wanted to play someone who was more naïve, who didn't really want to be aware of what was going to happen to Chris.”


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