Navigation Bar - Text Links at Bottom of Page


The Characters
"I really wanted to find a way to trick Victor into thinking he could be so much better than he ever imagined himself and find himself thrust into this legacy of goodness. He has to reinvent himself according to what other people want him to be.” -- Chuck Palahniuk

When it came time to cast CHOKE, the filmmakers knew everything would hinge on finding actors who could nail the right tone. They were helped tremendously by Mary Vernieu who joined CHOKE as an executive producer in the very early stages. Vernieu is a highly regarded casting director who has worked with such character-driven directors as Quentin Tarantino, David O. Russell and Darren Aranofsky. Ultimately, the casting was so successful that the film garnered the Ensemble Cast Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

The first thing the film needed was an actor who would be completely fearless in the role of the rather flagrantly flawed Victor Mancini. He had to be willing to be eccentric, neurotic, needy, lusty, manipulative and disillusioned. At the same time he also needed to be charming, funny, heartbreakingly vulnerable and able to fall headlong not only into unexpected love but into a radically different view of who he might be in life. In other words, he had to be a devilish soul with the potential for redemption.

To fill this difficult bill, Clark Gregg right away thought of Sam Rockwell, with whom he had worked in a play many years ago. Rockwell has been acclaimed in a number of memorably unconventional roles, from an unhinged Chuck Barris in George Clooney's CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND to the insane double-murderer "Wild Bill” Wharton in THE GREEN MILE to his recent roles in the horror-thriller JOSHUA, the revisionist Western THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD and the contemporary drama SNOW ANGELS.

"I think Sam's one of the few people working in movies in America today who can blend fully committed drama with totally absurdist comedy,” says the director. "He always felt right to me because CHOKE takes so many stylistic chances and I needed someone like Sam who can take risks without the audience doubting his reality for a second. I knew from the beginning that he was the perfect person to play Victor.”

Gregg continues: "And the bonus was his generosity of spirit and commitment. Nobody works harder than Sam. He was listening to the book on tape on an endless loop, over and over, throughout the entire production. Later when I watched dailies I realized that his ‘improves' often contained his favorite lines from the novel.”

Palahniuk was equally pleased with the casting. "As soon as they said Sam Rockwell, it just seemed perfect because he is funny and he also has a fantastic vulnerable quality. Ever since THE GREEN MILE or CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND, I couldn't think of anyone who would be better.”

Rockwell responded to the script instantly. "I thought it was really unique among screenplays I've read and I also thought that Clark did a great job capturing that very specific and unusual Chuck Palahniuk tone, which is kind of like Ken Kesey meets John Irving,” says the actor. Most of all Rockwell couldn't resist the idea of trying to embody Victor with all his massive foibles, rampant sex addiction and highly unlikely destiny as the messiah of a private mental hospital. He affectionately calls Victor "a highly dysfunctional Casanova.”

Rockwell continues: "I saw Victor as kind of an amalgam of all the great movie anti-heroes. I was thinking of Jack Nicholson in FIVE EASY PIECES, Paul Newman in COOL HAND LUKE and Albert Finney in TOM JONES -- and even John Travolta in SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER and Billy Bob Thornton in BAD SANTA. He's just a fascinating guy and almost like a modern Hamlet with this whole weird Oedipal thing going on. He's a real piece of work, but I lik

Next Production Note Section


Home | Theaters | Video | TV

Your Comments and Suggestions are Always Welcome.

2018 23,  All Rights Reserved.


Find:  HELP!