Extremely Dangerous - Production Notes (3)

Last Update: 03 December 1999
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The Casting

Malcolm Craddock:

"We have got a really excellent cast, and it was really exciting getting their reaction to the scripts. That's how we were able to get someone of Juliet's stature on board. It's a great start to get a BAFTA award-winner on from the word go.

"Obviously it's great fun to be reunited with Sean again and to work together. I do think he's extended himself on this production. He's had the opportunity to show a whole range of emotions, and he's grabbed that willingly. I think his performance is very exciting, and very moving at times - watching this man who doesn't have a single friend in the world where everybody has already judged him. Because we live in a society now where if your name's in the newspapers, you're condemned to live really one way or another with what's been printed for the rest of your life. Similarly for Byrne - everyone knows his name.

"Ralph Brown also has a very striking presence in the film, working as the lead gangster of the syndicate. What's exciting about Ralph's performance, in the comparison with a lot of gangster films, is his tremendous restraint. You get a feeling of this man who has fantastic energy, all bound up inside him, and my God, when he pounces, it's going to be very violent and very strong."

Sallie Aprahamian:

"The cast were a very eclectic bunch, and they all had their own ways of working. Part of my job is to work with people who have all sorts of different ways of being and working, and making it work for the project, and so I have no complaints! I'm really, really pleased with the performance that Ralph gave, because there were lots of ways that he could have gone with the character.

"And then nobody thinks of Tony Booth as a gangster! Just from the moment the casting director put his name on the list I was quite curious! I think Tony had the hunger to re-enter the arena, and in a completely different way to what he did before. He was such a team player. And to a certain extent, the gangster toles, off the script page, were the least complex roles - not saying that I didn't like what Murray had done with them. And Tony is quite anarchic, with the right sort of eccentric combination for the character."

Sean Bean added his own accolade:

"Tony's great. There's a scene we did in a supermarket of him and his wife shopping, and Byrne pops up. He's a really nice guy, with a lot of character in his face, and he can carry a lot of gravitas, which fits with his part."

Sallie continues:

"Juliet's role as an ice queen is a very different role from the one that we might expect. She realised the limitations and challenges of the only female role in a project like this. I really enjoyed working with her as she's very hard working and focused. The part is quite cold, and as the story progresses I think that she brought some wonderful subtlety to the character.

"She plays out what's happening inside this woman - that she'd been brought up by a father who's made his money and sworn that he's never going back to the poverty he came from. There's this weird combination of working class values and this dark world of violence and crime, and her need to be powerful and achieving within that world, and someone who also understands the power of her own sexuality. There's a sense of her need, and also of the costs."

Michael Foster adds:

"Well Juliet is very enigmatic, and always has been, and that's what the character of Annie needed. Annie is doing the dirty on almost everybody. She has to play both sides of the line. She has to appear loyal to her lover, though she possibly suspects him of betraying her father and causing her own downfall, and she has to use Byrne for her own ends, while at the same time she obviously has emotional feelings for him, from their past relationships and working together. So it's a very difficult role to play. On top of all that Juliet is incredibly beautiful, and she's terrific as an actress. Juliet and Sean together make a pretty dynamic couple.

"She's got to be someone who can play hard because she's playing a woman in a man's world, she controls her father's interests in the syndicate, she's a well-educated girl, having gone to all the best schools and probably university, and then she comes back to working-class gangland Manchester, having received that sort of education. She's more educated than the gangster, and a woman, so I think her veneer is quite a hard one."

Sallie Aprahamian:

"But to a certain extend they are all satellite roles around Sean's character. I'm not demeaning their roles and what they have individually achieved, but it's not for instance Annie's story.

"Nitin and Douglas were both a real find. Nitin was brilliant in that he didn't play comedy for laughs; he played it for real, while understanding how timing works. In that sense my producers were very empowering given that once one or two names were chosen, I was given pretty much a free hand in doing what I wanted to do. Obviously I wanted people who wouldn't be intimidated by bigger names, and could stand their ground on the screen.

"For Elgin's character, from the script, I thought, 'So I cast someone with huge biceps and a strong nothern accent.' I'm not claiming what I did with it was particularly original, but Doug came in to see me and we had a few laughs, and I really liked what I did with it.

"To sum it all up, it's a story about one man's journey. I think it's entertaining, there's a lot of action in it, plus I think people will care about our hero, and will want to know what's happening to him - who's conning him, who's using him, and also, whether he is, in fact, guilty."

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