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THE DARKEST HOUR

Casting
Five dynamic young actors were cast to play the survivors the audience follow through the story. "The script characterized a group of young people who were the age and type of contemporary people who would end up in Moscow. We really wanted these characters to feel authentic, dramatic, fun and relatable so we are thrilled with the cast we ended up with, who feel all of the above,” says producer Tom Jacobson.

"We have a fantastic cast,” admits director Chris Gorak. "Emile Hirsch blew my mind in Into the Wild and Olivia Thirlby was my first choice to play the female lead. Max Minghella and Rachael Taylor are also terrific actors. Joel Kinnaman is a brilliant actor from Sweden and I'm glad to have all of them together. It's a really great core group, who we rely on as we move quickly and strategically through the city. We know they're going to get there and deliver.”

"Sean played by Emile Hirsch and Ben played by Max Minghella, arrive in Moscow with an idea for a travel website. They've been friends since childhood and Ben is the more practical of the two, but Sean is the sizzle to Ben's steak,” says executive producer Monnie Wills.

"Like a lot of best friends, Sean and Ben fall into roles, although they are both really smart and ambitious,” comments Jacobson. "Ben is the organized one, he's the man with a plan. Sean supplies the energy, fun, and outside the box thinking. They're both forward thinkers, very representative of their generation, and looking for the next thing.”

"In the beginning, Sean's a very carefree guy… life to him is water off a duck's back,” says Emile Hirsch. "But he's also really good at adapting to difficult situations, so when the alien attack happens, it's a quality that comes in very handy. Sean's able to keep his cool. He is a very heroic guy, just a ballsy dude who knows that he's got to take risks if he wants to keep surviving.”

"Emile's a very confident actor. We're really lucky to have him. He believes in his craft and he makes you believe,” comments Jacobson. "He also is fun and has a way of characterization that is entertaining and connected to the audience, so you like him. He lets you in. Emile has a great natural charm, wit, and truthfulness, but he also has this instinctive movie sense. His character is caught in this most unlikely situation and has to deal with it. There's no choice… if you don't deal, you die.”

The project marks the first in the sci-fi genre for the young actor acclaimed for his dramatic work. "I'm so excited to have Emile part of this project,” admits Gorak. "He brings a realism and great subtlety to Sean. He's so likeable. He's dedicated and really works hard to make the best possible detailed character that he can. We've collaborated for months, going back and forth about who Sean is, so it's been an incredible experience working with Emile. I actually knew him back on Lords of Dogtown, which I worked on as a production designer. Emile's an incredible actor and he was taking a leap of faith to do The Darkest Hour. But he's a big science fiction fan and we got to talking right when Avatar came out.”

The young actor is a big fan of the landmark film. "Avatar is one of the most amazing movies ever and I remember coming out of the theatre thinking I would love to make a science fiction film in 3D. The whole experience of that film really felt super cutting edge,” comments Hirsch. "I grew up on science fiction movies too, and the genre was something that I'd never done, but I'd always watched.”

"The script for The Darkest Hour caught a tone that I really liked and I thought that I'd be able to bring something to the film as an actor,” adds Hirsch. "Even though it's a sci-fi film, it's not just about the special effects, there's a lot of character development and drama. So this was a perfect mix for me. I had a really good time reading it as it brought out all the emotions of fear, suspense, and excitement. When I first met with Chris, he showed me all these really cool crazy storyboards and there's definitely a really cool gothic feel to it, very creepy, with dark hues and tones.”

Hirsch was also attracted to the twist of the electrical-based aliens. "One of the things I really like about the film is that it employs these light bulbs as alarm signals for the aliens coming. So there's also this horror element and this futuristic sci-fi element of using electronics to your advantage. Suddenly a car radio turns on and you know there's something bad over there. It's unique. It's funny because we'll be on set and we'll have our light bulbs around our necks and they'll just be lighting up. I'll walk away from set to go grab a drink and my light bulb will light up. Oh, they're trying to find me,” laughs Hirsch.

British actor Max Minghella was chosen to play the best friend of Emile Hirsch's character. "Max came in a couple of times to audition for Ben and did a fantastic job,” say Gorak. "He just became a great match with Emile. Off camera they have a dynamic that actually permeates on to camera. It's very honest, real, and satisfying to witness the dynamic between the two talented actors with balanced roles, who are vibrating off each other.”

"Ben is a software designer from Seattle. He and his partner Sean go to Moscow to sell this social networking website that they've designed and it doesn't go well,” admits Minghella. "They go to this bar so they can drink their sorrows away and then we are hit with a very dramatic and unexpected event. Ben is fairly pragmatic and used to taking charge, but he's in this incredibly extreme situation where he can't think in the way that he's used to. So part of his arc is about somebody trying to find ground. Ben expects leadership from himself, but as the story unfolds he realizes how out of his depth he is and that he is terrified. He's somebody struggling to maintain control in an uncontrollable situation. Yet the film's tone is fun, but at the same time it doesn't shy away from exploring human depth and emotion.”

Jacobson adds, "Max is a really thoughtful, smart guy who is grounded, but also loves movies like this. He's very serious about his craft, but has that lightness of his generation. He's done many independent movies, and smart dramas like The Social Network, but he also loved this script. Max came after it very aggressively and it feels like he belongs with Emile.”

Minghella was attracted to this script. "The Darkest Hour is in a sense an alien invasion thriller, but it is handled in a very original way. There's nothing really else like it,” states Minghella. "When I read the script, it felt completely original to me in conceit and yet it's very true to its genre. It will satisfy fans of sci-fi movies and at the same time push boundaries in terms of what you expect.”

"It's so cool to be a part of this film because ever since I was three years old climbing around the house with my plastic gun, I've been dreaming of getting to do something like this,” admits Minghella. "It's pretty rare that there's room to do something in this genre that's actually substantial and has some real integrity to it. This opportunity is special.”

"One of the things that's been really exciting about shooting for me it that feels like a classic sci-fi action film, but the effects feel completely new to me and the tone of the film is totally unpretentious,” adds Minghella. "It's a film that's completely aware of what it is and I'm proud of Chris for finding

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