Casting The Film
Taking on the lead role is Jim Sturgess, who previously starred for director Julie Taymor in Across the Universe. Luketic says that Sturgess is on the cusp of a breakthrough as a major star. "He's the complete package," says the director. "He's dramatically spot-on and comedically gifted, which is a rare combination. He has a real passion to him; as a director, I look for that passion, that love, that excitement, that need and desire. With that passion, in addition to his talent and his charisma, I knew he'd be perfect for the role."
Sturgess recalls, "I sent out an audition tape, not expecting anything to come of it. Then, I got a phone call saying that Robert wanted to meet me. We had breakfast together in London, I did a few screen tests, and then they offered me the part."
Sturgess says that his character has a "genius mind," but that's not enough. "He's at a point in his life when his brain can only take him so far," he says. "He needs something else about him, about his personality, to give him an edge - something more than just having good grades on a piece of paper."
In the film, the characters take on disguises to help them elude Vegas enforcers. For Sturgess, that was one of the most interesting challenges of 21: the chance to play many characters within one film. Sturgess says that his costume helped him find the role. "When you're in a classroom with a check shirt and a hoodie, it helps you feel like an M.I.T. student. When you're in the bright lights of Vegas in an Armani suit and thousands of dollars in your pocket, it definitely helps you to make the transition."
Producer De Luca says, "Jim is a find. I think he's going to be a major, major movie star. He brings innocence, vulnerability, and a brooding intensity that he can turn on when he needs to."
Laurence Fishburne adds, "Jim is a lovely young actor who has the stuff, has the talent, and is really committed to his craft. He gives you everything he has. That is what we actors do - we play off of each other. It really was refreshing to work with him."
Opposite Sturgess in the role of Jill Taylor is Kate Bosworth. After co-starring with Spacey in Beyond the Sea and Superman Returns, landing Bosworth for the role was as simple as a phone call. Bosworth remembers, "During Superman Returns, Kevin mentioned this project. Quite a while later, I was wrapping up another film and planning to take a holiday when Kevin called. His exact words-'Will you please come play in Vegas and Boston?' It was quite difficult to say no."
Describing the appeal of the project, Bosworth says, "Everyone likes to see a group of ordinary people beat the system and that's what these kids did. It's extraordinary, almost unbelievable, but true."
In an ensemble film like 21, Bosworth says, the relationship between the actors is as important as the actors themselves. "Because the story is about a group of kids who have known each other for a long time, who trust each other completely, this movie really depends upon the chemistry of the cast to pull that off," she says.
"Kate is a movie star - she brings her megawatt charisma and Hollywood glamour to that role," says De Luca. "But she also has gravity, bringing a level of character acting that you don't find in too many actresses. We were lucky to have her."
"It's always a pleasure to work with Kate," says Spacey. "She's very beautiful, fiercely intelligent, incredibly talented, and a load of fun to hang with in Vegas for three weeks. I was thrilled that it worked out."
Spacey, of course, always intended that he would play the supporting role of Micky Rosa, the mad genius and stats nut who puts together the M.I.T. team in the film. "The character is an amalgamation," he notes. "The characte
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