|UNVEILING A SUPPORTING CAST|
In addition to Radcliffe, the film’s cast includes a varied ensemble of renowned British actors including Ciarán Hinds and Janet McTeer. When Kipps arrives in the village of Crythin Gifford, he’s met by locals who demonstrate mysteriously unwelcoming behavior. Watkins wanted to make sure the supporting characters would resonate individually, and not merely as a whole.
“(Casting director) Karen Lindsay-Stewart and I decided we wanted a truth about the villagers,” reveals Watkins. “We didn’t want them to merely convey a kind of rural otherness, or to be yokels. We needed to feel the pain of these people’s loss and the fear that underlines their behaviour.”
It was important, too, that each character have its own, fully defined path. Says Watkins: “Throughout the process of casting, we did work in rehearsal with Jane, just trying to excavate the secondary roles a bit more. I wanted each character to have a small story to tell.”
Watkins is thrilled with how the ensemble turned out. A villager whom Kipps meets upon first arriving in Crythin Gifford, Samuel Daily (aka ‘Daily’) becomes his closest ally despite Daily’s skepticism that a supernatural presence really exists in the village. The role is one of the film’s more prominent supporting characters.
“As a director, sometimes it comes down to just asking yourself ‘Who do I love as an actor?’ and then ‘Who might be right for this role?’” says Watkins. “I love Ciarán Hinds; I’ve admired his work for a long time. The moment I thought of him, I knew he’d be perfect for Daily.”
Over his 30+ year career in Film and TV, Hinds had never been involved in a gothic thriller so when Watkins came calling, he jumped at the role.
Hinds refers to the material as “spine-chilling” and sees the relationship between Daily and Kipps as “paternal.” “Daily meets Arthur as he’s arriving in the village,” explains Hinds. “He decides to keep an eye out for him, though he chooses not to expose the dark history of Crythin Gifford and what he’s arriving into.”
Hinds loved working with Radcliffe, albeit it was not their first work encounter. A recent addition to Hinds’ filmography is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 in which he plays Dumbledore’s brother Aberforth.
“Daniel is such an open-hearted person by nature, and very committed,” compliments Hinds. “He was well capable of taking on the journey that comes with this role.” Radcliffe was equally impressed with his co-star. In fact, he too thought of Hinds for Daily upon first reading the script. “I thought he would be fantastic in this so it was very exciting to learn that he was James’ first choice for the role as well,” says Radcliffe. “Ciarán and Daily both have a silent strength and a sort of pathos about them which together make for quite a beautiful and heartbreaking character.”
Daily’s wife, the distraught Mrs. Daily, is played by Golden Globe-nominated actress (for Albert Nobbs) Janet McTeer. McTeer was familiar with the story from having read the book years before and says she always found it to be “haunting.”
The role of Mrs. Daily is considerably larger in the film than in the book but it’s in the book’s character description that McTeer notes the most significant difference. “In the book, Mrs. Daily is described as ‘fluffy and short.’ Clearly I was miscast!” she says with a laugh.
Mrs. Daily deals with the ghostly presence that has taken hold of the village in a much more overt way than her husband. Whereas Samuel Daily suppresses his fear, Mrs. Daily is haunted by hers. McTeer found her to be “a very sad and, hence, isolated woman.” “There’s also a sense,” adds McTeer, “that a huge love exists between her and her husband but something is in the way.” She stops short of expanding on this notion as not to give away details of the plot.
McTeer had worked with Hinds on a number of previous occasions and welcomed this opportunity as well. “We often have to be separated because we laugh too much,” she says. “We have a ball. He’s very nice to work with and he’s a fabulous actor. It’s always good fun.”
She also cherished the time spent working with Radcliffe. “It was a real pleasure to work with Daniel,” says McTeer. “He’s smart, funny and incredibly bright. We had a lovely time together.”
Samuel and Mrs. Daily are key supporting characters in the film but the primary motivator for Kipps taking the Crythin Gifford assignment is his young son, Joseph. As Oakes explains, “it is important for the audience to believe in Kipps’ relationship with his child and believe he would do anything to protect him.” Casting the right young actor to play Joseph would be crucial. Luckily, they didn’t have to look very far…
Playing the part of Joseph is Misha Handley, Radcliffe’s real life godson. “We saw a lot of young kids to play the role but Dan and Misha just have such a bond, and that bond resonates on film,” shares Watkins. “Plus, Misha is one of the most natural young actors I’ve ever seen.
Adds Radcliffe - “It’s very hard to fake the chemistry between a father and son, especially with a very young actor. Misha has known me all his life so it was just natural between us. And he’s just adorable…the sweetest little boy.”
As for casting the Woman in Black, Watkins found actress Liz White in a theater production. “She completely owned the stage,” recalls Watkins. “The Woman in Black is probably the oddest role she’s ever taken on but she’s brought such emotion to this character.”