“I am a big fan of flawed protagonists or a main character that is truly flawed. Wallace/Arthur is definitely that. He’s done some things that aren’t very admirable, like abandoning his son, or at least not being really there for him and then when he takes on this persona of Arthur Newman he’s such a blowhard at times, he almost straddles unlikeable or prickly, at best.
That being said, I really needed to find an actor with truly inherent empathetic qualities that, despite those flaws, the audience would be willing to go on this journey with him and want him to come out on the other side changed.
And I just started going through actors and that’s when Colin’s name just popped into my head. And I was like, ‘Wow!’ It would be strange if he could play an American. Then I think, ‘That guy could do it.’ And then he read the script, loved it, we met in London and then that was that. There was never a list.
“So then, with Emily, this is how I ended up with two Brits in an American road film. I wanted an actor, because Colin Firth, it’s kind of like, ‘Oh, it’s a “Colin Firth” movie.’ That’s a big name for a very small film. Emily is a bit more prevalent now but I consider her to be a bit of a chameleon.
So, you know, there’s a bit of an age difference between them but I didn’t want, because there’s love scenes between them, I didn’t want the age aspect, this isn’t an ‘older man meets a younger woman’ movie. That age thing is just another thing that, on the surface, makes these people clearly incompatible. There’s no reason they should really be on this journey together. But really, I was just looking for someone that would fit into that and that would just be another element and also that they would have chemistry.
“Colin and Emily, I think through Stanley Tucci, kind of knew each other ever so slightly personally. So it was kind of a great situation because the first day on the film they had never worked together or known each other as actors. The two characters in the film are feeling each other out and then they’re kind of feeling each other out professionally, getting to know each other. But, because they knew each other, there was like an inherent trust so I could tell immediately off screen and on the screen that there was a genuine chemistry so that’s kind of how we ended up with the two leads.”