"I love actors and respect them tremendously," notes Frankenheimer, "and I think that casting a movie is a terribly important function of the director, who must establish a good relationship with the actors or the work will suffer. I ask myself if a particular actor works in a way that is compatible with mine. I know that I have made the right choices if, after two or three weeks of shooting, I feel that nobody but that actor could play that part."
"Robert De Niro's participation enhanced the creative credibility of this project, and a lot of actors wanted to be in the film because of him," producer Mancuso adds. "As a result, we were able to cast the movie the way we wanted. All of our actors feel very real and urgent this cast is a carefully assembled collection."
"Robert De Niro is very accomplished actor with an amazing sense of truth that he projects in everything he does," says Frankenheimer. "He has an extraordinary physical presence, even in the scenes where he does nothing. De Niro is one of the two or three actors I've ever worked with who has the ability to surprise me with the way he looks, moves or says his lines."
"We were lucky to cast Jean Reno as Vincent," the director continues. "Reno has the same magical rapport with the camera that you see with De Niro. He has this great face, an imposing presence and is a lovely human being, which comes across in his performance."
Frankenheimer had seen Natascha McElhone
hold her own opposite Anthony Hopkins in Surviving Picasso.
"She was Dierdre, the Irish revolutionary," Frankenheimer
recalls. "I wanted to make sure that she and De Niro got
along and worked well together, so we did a test with both of
them and the chemistry
was perfect." Likewise, the director was drawn to Stellan Skarsgård's strength in several films and chose him for the role of Gregor. Skipp Sudduth, who plays Larry, had just worked with the director on George Wallace.
For the small but critical role of Jean-Pierre, the director turned to Michael Lonsdale. "I had worked with Michael Lonsdale twice before. I knew that we needed a great actor for that key scene in which the film's central metaphor of the Ronin is explained, and Michael was brilliant," Frankenheimer remembers.
"Finally, we were lucky to be able to get Jonathan Pryce for the small but vital role of Seamus," Frankenheimer concludes. "Making Ronin was a great experience, and I loved working with this wonderful group of people who all got along well and helped each other."
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