EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
About the Casting
To cast The Eye, Elliott went for the unexpected. "I like to cast
against type," the director comments. "That's why I loved Ewan
McGregor for this role. Ewan has always played pretty outlandish, show-off
roles. He very rarely plays still characters. But this one is the complete
opposite. He only says a few words in the film and the rest of his performance
is what is happening in his eyes. It was an enormous challenge and at the end of
the day, he forged an extraordinary presence that carries the audience through
McGregor was strongly attracted to the story's unpredictable maze of events and
emotions. "I thought the script was quite exciting," he says,
"and didn't follow any of the normal rules plot-wise. It's a love story
that has an identity all its own. It's about a man who is stalking a killer yet
falls deeply in love by the end of the movie. I saw it as being very new and
He was also drawn by the opportunity to work with Elliott, whose reputation for
bold invention precedes him. "I'd seen his films before so I had an idea of
what I was getting into," says McGregor, "but it was quite exciting to
keep up with his constant wild ideas and get them running in an instant. It's
great to be challenged in that way."
To play off against McGregor's aloof, voyeuristic lover, Elliott cast Ashley
Judd to play the mysterious, provocative murderer who inspires his longing.
Elliott had originally hoped to cast an older actress but found that no
Hollywood star over 40 was willing to go all the way with Joanna Eris'
controversial character. Meanwhile, he was pursued endlessly by Judd who wanted
the role with an almost obsessive desire. "She basically stalked me,"
Elliott jokes. "She hounded the hell out of me for months. She would not
give up. And for awhile the more determined she became, the more determined I
became not to cast her. Then we finally agreed to meet and I told her what I
wanted. I said 'this murderess has to inspire absolute sympathy and the whole
premise is going to spin on people believing in Joanna.' She looked me straight
in the eye and said 'I can do it.' And you know what? She did."
Judd took a daring, instinctual approach to playing Joanna. "There's
something very enigmatic about this character, even to me," she admits.
"So I let the character show me what to do, become my map on how to
proceed. I've never worked this way before but instead of being suspicious of
it, I just let it happen. I just said this is a new way of doing things that is
going to be exciting."
For Judd, the highly atypical character of Joanna wasn't the only reason for
doing the film; there was also the chance to work with the highly atypical
Stephan Elliott. "You can't believe sometimes how creative he is," she
observes. "He is does all sorts of new and inventive things visually and
has an attention to detail that rivals Michael Mann's. His mind is so kinetic
and what I love most about him is how he really enjoys pushing the
Playing Joanna Eris' flesh-and-blood love interest is Patrick Bergin as Alex
Leonard, the wealthy blind vintner. To create his character, Stephan Elliott
conducted numerous interviews with groups of blind people to get their input.
"They're sick of being portrayed as dull victims which they aren't, and I
was inspired to make him extremely likable, classy, good-looking with a real
sense of mischief. And that just said Patrick Bergin to me."
Polar opposite to Patrick Bergin's character is Jason Priestley's flagrantly
hedonistic drifter. Once again, Stephan Elliott went for reverse casting.
"To play the baddest, evilest, most horrible character in the film I wanted
the most likeable, smiling, happy, best-loved face in America. Someone men
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