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Seeking actors for a movie where everyone is or remains 25 may sound like a straightforward task, but that was not the case. Though true, on the outside, the characters look 25, on the inside, they are older…some in their 30s, 50s, 60s, some over 100. And that needed to be conveyed in performance, without benefit of makeup, effects or CGI.

"All the actors had to look around age 25 because in the story, that's when the aging gene switches off,” Niccol elaborates. That specific age was not chosen arbitrarily. "It's the age we fully mature, when the frontal lobe of the brain fully develops,” the filmmaker continues. "It is the part of the brain that controls impulse and reckless behavior. Rental car companies know this; they will not rent a car to somebody under age 25. There are characters in the film who are chronologically 100 years old, so I had to search for ‘old souls.' Only certain young actors have the ability to play a senior citizen in a 25-year-old body.”

One actor who jumped at the chance to play an "old soul” was Justin Timberlake. It was Timberlake's early rise to stardom that helped convince the filmmakers of his fit for the character of Will. "I love Justin's work ethic, which is one of the important traits he shares with his character, Will Salas,” says Niccol. "It was actually very fitting that Justin plays Will. Will has to wake up every day and go to work or die, and I don't think Justin himself has taken a day off since he was 12 years old. There is no reason he won't be a successful action hero [as Will] because he seems to be great at anything he turns his hand to.”

Adds Eric Newman: "Justin has been an adult since he was 17 years old, when he was a superstar. He didn't have a conventional childhood, and he carries that with him. The character of Will is one who probably never had a childhood either because, in this world, you are born with a clock on your wrist, spending the first 24 years of your life waiting for that clock to start. And when it does, you have less than a year to figure it out; you're constantly faced with your own mortality. I think Justin has continually worked harder than everybody else, and he brings that to his acting as well. I think Justin and Will both have a similar ‘work or die' ethic; they're wired the same way.”

Timberlake, a longtime fan of action films, embraced the opportunity to play a character whose heroics are grounded in reality and a contextual richness. "When I was a kid, some of my favorite movies were action pieces like First Blood, The Fugitive, and Die Hard,” says Timberlake. "The one thing I loved about those specific movies was that the protagonists were everyday people placed into extraordinary circumstances and doing extraordinary things.”

Will's heroics are triggered by an easily relatable factor. "Will has grown up with essentially nothing,” Timberlake notes. "He wakes up every day and goes to work to stay alive. Through a series of events, he decides that he's not going to take it anymore, and takes it upon himself to try and change the way things work in this world.”

"Will grows up in Dayton, which is somewhat of a ghetto. It's kind of ironic that the word ‘day' is in its name, because most of the citizens only walk around with a day to live. So the day-to-day life in Dayton is quick. People don't have time to walk slowly, so they run, almost all of the time, to where they are going, and they're constantly eating and drinking on the run. They don't have time to spare or to waste. Everything's frenetic and alive, in a kind of dangerous yet beautiful way. When your back is up against the wall and you don't have a choice, you make revisions and you live your life the way that it has to be, to survive.”

Timberlake reserves special praise for Amanda Seyfried, who portrays Sylvia, his unwilling (at first) partner-in-crime. "There are people that see the world the same way Will does. At the end of the day, I think he just wants what is fair. I think, through Sylvia, Will discovers that there's something bigger he could be fighting for. It becomes kind of a Robin Hood tale at that point, once they pair up; like any young people put in high risk situations, they become enamored with each other. And working one-on-one with Amanda has been great. I feel like we've really captured something special between those two characters.”

While Sylvia may become someone who inspires Will to take up the fight, she certainly does not start out that way. The nascent darker side of Sylvia was something Seyfried could bring to the fore, per Andrew Z. Davis: "What I love about Amanda is there's a sweetness about her but, at the same time, she has an edge. I don't think audiences have really gotten to see her edge that much in movies.”

"Sylvia is the girl in the gilded cage,” seconds Amy Israel, "trapped by her situation; she questions it because she isn't sure everything is exactly the way it should be. But she's kept in that system by her father and her circumstance, all the time yearning for more, wanting to take risks. But no one in New Greenwich takes risks.”

"Sylvia dreads her life every day,” reveals Amanda Seyfried. "She wants to have some kind of adventure. In a world like this, you spend so much time trying to protect your life that you don't really end up living.

Everybody has bodyguards.

They all eat very well, but very little, they don't drink or smoke; it's mundane. Sylvia just isn't made for this kind of life. She gets her wish for a different life when Will takes her away.”

Will's first appearance in the richest time zone is telling. He is clearly out of place, but there is something unmistakably attractive about him, at least for Sylvia. Seyfried continues, "He comes into New Greenwich and in walks this almost larger-than-life guy. Once Will and Sylvia get to Dayton, everybody runs, because they're fighting time. Everyone moves so fast, but there's a sense of excitement there, and it's liberating because they live day-to-day. You're wired differently there. What's important is the now.”

It's that very change of environment that signals a turning point for both Will and Sylvia. Timberlake offers, "The first half of the movie is really Will's arc: halfway through, he makes the decision about what he is fighting for, he finds a bigger purpose. The second half of the film is a huge arc for Sylvia. She comes from time, and underestimates what Will values, as he does with her. It's one thing, to come from nothing and to try to fight for what's right; it's another thing to have it in your hand and realize that, maybe there's a portion of it you don't deserve. There's humility in that acceptance, and that's what transforms her.”

In addition to the journey of Sylvia, Seyfried was attracted to many of the things that captured Timberlake's imagination about the world Niccol had created. "Andrew's one of a kind, and I wanted to be a part of this. It's so very different, but at the same time, it has so many parallels to the way we live, which is why it's so smart. And I have to admit, getting to hold a gun and kick some butt also sounded like a blast.”

Sylvia and Will are running for their lives – not just to find enough time to make it through another day, but from the Timekeepers out to capture the fugitive duo. "Timekeepers keep the system running; they actually keep time,” says Niccol. "And our principal antagonist, Timekeeper Leon, is not really a villain. He is just a bureaucrat, an authority figure who has allegiance to no one, rich or poor. His only allegiance is to minutes and seconds.”

Leon is not wealthy. He h

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