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The Casting Story
When thinking about casting ONDINE, Jordan believed that Farrell was perfect for the part of Syracuse. "I don't think Colin has been truly explored as an actor,” he says. "When I saw Colin in TIGERLAND, which was the first thing I saw him in, I thought he was absolutely marvelous. He then did a lot of big movies and became a star. It was almost like acting wasn't demanded of him as it was largely action features he appeared in. It was so refreshing to see him do that film with Martin McDonagh, IN BRUGES, because you saw somebody returning to his roots.”

Farrell immersed himself in the part of Syracuse. He went out on a trawler with a local fisherman to find his sea legs, adopted a West Cork accent and once again blended into the local community (one of his first screen roles was in the 1998 TV drama FALLING FOR A DANCER which was shot in Castletownbere). "At one point I told Colin his character could have Dublin roots but he wanted to go the whole way and I'm glad that he did,” says Jordan. "It was really brilliant to work with him as an actor because his commitment was extraordinary and beyond acting in a way.”

With Farrell cast, Jordan was adamant that the title role be played by an unknown actress. "There's an enormous amount of pressure to get a big name star to sell the film internationally but I wanted someone who was largely unknown,” he says. "I looked at a number of eastern European films including Polish, Russian and Romanian movies. I saw a movie called TRADE, which was set in Mexico City and featured Alicja Bachleda. She seemed perfect for the role. She had both this otherworldly dreamy quality and a startling voluptuousness and sensuality at the same time. She turned out to be an amazing actor.”

Bachleda immediately reacted to the script and Jordan's vision. "It's such a wonderful, tender story about love and people from very different worlds with difficult pasts,” she says. "They are both now dealing with a new dream reality, both are so hungry for some beauty in their lives that sometimes they lie to themselves or try to believe the dream, that things can be changed.”

Portraying the elusive Ondine proved a challenge. "There's a certain amount of illusion to her character so she's a bit difficult to talk about,” Bachleda says. "People believe she is a certain thing and she believes that this transformation is possible so she lives that dream as well. I don't want to reveal too much about the character so I will just say that she is somebody who wishes and hopes to be loved and be cared for, something that she has never experienced in her life. Now she has that chance. So in a way it's a story about dreams coming true.”

Farrell was impressed by his co-star's ability and application. "Alicja's really smart, has a lot of craft and works very hard,” he says. "The film opens with my character, Syracuse, pulling up his nets and there's a woman in the nets lying amid a bed of mackerel and leaping tuna. It reads beautifully on the page and then on the day you see Alicja getting her skin chafed from this cold, wet twine and all these mackerel and tuna flying about and it's freezing out in the Irish sea. It's certainly not glamorous at all but there wasn't a single whimper of disgruntlement from Alicja.”

The other new face is Alison Barry, the ten-year-old from Cork who plays Syracuse's daughter, the precocious and confident Annie. Although she needs weekly dialysis treatment and is occasionally confined to a wheelchair, Annie is an indomitable and feisty spirit, someone who is wise beyond her tender years. She dearly loves her dad and strikes up a close and loving relationship with Ondine. "Annie has kidney failure and she's not that popular,” says Alison. "She's a bit lonely so when Ondine comes along it's like a real friend for her, somebody who understands her. Annie's life is hard because her mum is an alcoholic

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