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SOURCE CODE

Casting Source Code
Each of Source Code's small group of characters plays an essential role in the drama that unfolds and each of the actors portraying them had to be able to deliver finely tuned performances under unusual and often challenging circumstances.

”We felt very strongly that we had hired the right director,” says Gordon. "Then casting was an incredibly important part of the process. As a producer, if you get the script right, you hire the director that's right for the movie and you cast the right actors, you're 80 percent there. Then you just let people do what they do.”

Jones is grateful to have been able to work with actors of the caliber of those in Source Code. "I have been phenomenally lucky as a director in getting the casts I have,” says Jones. "On this film, I got Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright—all of them tremendous actors. To be able to bring them all together in one film was fantastic.”

At the heart of the ensemble is Gyllenhaal, playing Captain Colter Stevens. "Jake has a very special rapport with the film,” Philippe Rousselet says. "He's been a fantastic asset. He's very passionate, hard working, and full of smart, creative ideas. I keep telling him he should direct a film, because he's a very talented guy, and not just as an actor. He likes to be creative on set and try different things. He was definitely a driving force in the process of making this movie.”

Stevens is certainly an action hero, but the complexities of the story required more than a chiseled physique, a square jaw and a steely gaze. "There was a lot of brainwork in the movie,” says Gyllenhaal. "But once we got to the set, I had to be able let go of the cerebral part so we could tell the story of a guy lost in time. Emotions are hitting him from all sides, which is great fun for an actor.”

The first day of shooting was crucial for everyone in the cast, says Gyllenhaal, because the things they did that day would be repeated, with variations, in scenes that followed. "As soon as we set the action in motion for the first source code—the first time on the train—every subsequent scene had to match. Then I came in and changed the scenario a little bit each time to try and get a different outcome. We sometimes had to stop and take an hour or so to make sure we had things right.”

The filmmakers had a long list of requirements for the actress who would play Christina, Colter's love interest. She becomes Colter's touchstone each time he returns to the train. "We wanted to make sure in the storytelling that there was someone that Jake's character could connect to on that train,” says Gordon. "That made the situation personal for him. He wants to do more than just save these strangers. We were looking for someone who was funny and charming and sassy, someone who could make an impression without a lot of screen time, because she would be reliving the same eight minutes over and over again. Michelle Monaghan is wonderfully warm actress, very vulnerable and very kind. And that was critical for that role.”

Jones had seen Monaghan in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and thought she fit the bill. "Our first meeting was over Skype,” he says. "We got on very well. She has such a great, enthusiastic personality. I came away from that conversation extremely excited about Michelle.”

For Monaghan, the combination of script, director and star were irresistible. "I was intrigued with the challenge of playing the same day over and over again,” says Monaghan. "It was all about finding the nuances. A challenge like that forces you to be as creative as you can because you're shooting essentially the same dialogue, but trying to bring something fresh to it. "Duncan has extraordinary vision,” continues Monaghan, "which made the prospect of working with him exciting. And then on top of that, I got to work with Jake, who is a terrific guy and a terrific actor. He's probably one of the most supportive actors I've ever worked with.”

Once on set, the chemistry was immediate, says Jones. "She and Jake are unbelievable together. Michelle wasn't scared of trying different things, which was wonderful, because Jake really wants to do that and is good at it. When they were working together, we would do a couple of takes straight down the line of the script. Then they would start playing around with it and trying to be a little bit more improvisational.

"Jake would throw things at her, but he never put her off,” the director continues. "It created a sort of butterfly effect. Jake would react off the smallest change, and that would give Michelle the opportunity to subtly change her performance for the next bit. It was a back-and-forth game that the two of them had.”

Jones' work style combines extensive advance preparation with an easy-going attitude on set, says the actress. "Duncan seems to have no ego whatsoever. If he likes something, he'll let you know, and if he doesn't, he'll have you do it another way. There's a lot of comfort in knowing that you can trust him.

"He storyboards all of his scenes,” Monaghan adds. "The actors and crew always knew the effects he was aiming for. Still, he was open to allowing us to do a lot of different variations on the scenes. He's inspiring in that way.”

Vera Farmiga came to the film fresh off a 2010 Academy Award® nomination for Best Supporting Actress in Up in the Air. Her character, Colleen Goodwin, is a captain in the Air Force and the designated source code coach for Colter. "She's the human behind the voice of Oz, guiding him back and forth between these two realities,” she explains.

The actress was Jones' only choice for the role. "I don't think we even thought about anyone else,” he says. "I had just seen Up in the Air when we started talking about casting that part. I had seen her in other films, but I suddenly saw a whole different side to her. She is incredibly talented, incredibly kind and very easy to communicate with.

"One of the beauties of working with Vera is there's so much going on in her face,” he adds. "She's able to communicate with the subtlest movements or gestures. She uses that ability to great effect in our film. There isn't a huge amount of flexibility because all of her scenes take place in the same small environment. That was complicated further by the fact that Jake's character is not in the same room with her when they speak. It's tricky for an actor to have a conversation with someone who isn't actually there.”

Farmiga draws a parallel between that way of working and Internet dating, another situation in which people try to form a personal connection without physical presence. "By nature of there being these two separate realities that our characters function in, we were very seldom in the same space,” she says. "I worked primarily with Jake's voice, although, out of the kindness of his heart, he did his lines just off-camera on several days. But, in reality, my character is not interacting with someone who is present in the same room with her.”

Her limited time working with Gyllenhaal created a bond that remained even after he left the set. "Working with Jake was effortless,” she says. "He's easygoing, he has an incredible sense of humor, and he's a good sport. He has a warmth and a humor and a relaxation about the process, and a confidence that you just draw upon. It's just a pleasure to be around him and to invent with him.”

Like her co-stars, Farmiga was familiar with Moon and looking forward to working with Jones. "I could tell he was a deep thinker and a philosopher by nature by watching his

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