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Renny Harlin on casting Madelaine in 'The Strangers 1'

3 weeks ago 644

Director

Renny Harlin

, best known for his work in the action movie genre, is set to have his audience looking over their shoulders with his new thriller trilogy, '

The Strangers: Chapter 1

.' Set to captivate audiences with its gripping storyline, the film, will bring to screens accounts of

true crime stories

in the USA.
The film follows a young couple played by

Madelaine Petsch

and Froy Gutierrez, terrorized by three masked strangers who strike with no mercy and seemingly no motive.

In a chat with ETimes, director Renny shed light on the meticulous casting process, emphasizing the importance of finding a leading cast who could seamlessly navigate their roles' emotional and physical demands over the three-part franchise. While he was at it, he also opened up about the challenges of appointing young Hollywood talents to carry the fate of his film trilogy. Excerpts:
Renny, can you tell us about the casting process for 'The Strangers: Chapter 1'? What led you to choose Madelaine Petsch of 'Riverdale' fame for the lead role?
Renny Harlin: Well, I would say that the first criterion was to find great actors, especially the role of Maya, which Madelaine plays, it is extremely challenging because she goes through a metamorphosis during these three movies. We were shooting all the movies together, so for her to be able to switch emotionally from one movie to another within a day was very challenging. She had to be physically able to do this because the movies, especially the second and third movies, get extremely physical. So she just really goes through a really, really, really challenging journey as an actor.

When we met and had long Zoom meetings with a lot of actors, we just felt like we had to click and find the right person. In a way, you want somebody who is a little bit known so that the audience kind of has a little bit of recollection of this person, but you don't want somebody so famous that it takes away from the movie being relatable and realistic.
When we met with Madelaine, it was clear immediately. She just had such energy, intelligence, and a sense of humour that fit perfectly with the character and the movies. She almost instantly became like a partner in developing the scripts and the stories and was ready to throw herself physically into the incredible challenges of shooting these movies.

As for Ema, we were looking for someone who could complement Madelaine's performance and bring depth to her character. Ema's audition blew us away, and her chemistry with Madelaine was undeniable. We knew she was the perfect fit for the role.
What are some of the biggest risks when casting young Hollywood actors, especially for a film trilogy?
Renny Harlin: The biggest risk is finding actors who not only have the talent but also the dedication and stamina to handle the demands of the role. For 'The Strangers,' we needed actors who could seamlessly transition between emotional and physical challenges, often within the same scene. It was essential to find performers who could bring authenticity and depth to their characters while also embodying the physicality required for intense action sequences.
We were fortunate to assemble a cast that not only met but exceeded our expectations. Madelaine, Ema, and the rest of the cast brought their A-game to every scene, and their commitment to their roles elevated the entire project.
Even for characters like the Strangers, who wear masks throughout most of the film, we needed actors who could convey emotion and nuance through subtle movements and expressions. It was a challenging process, but ultimately, it paid off, and I couldn't be prouder of the cast we've assembled for 'The Strangers: Chapter 1.'
Also starring Rachel Shenton,

Gabriel Basso

,

Ema Horvath

, Richard Brake and Ella Bruccoleri, PVR INOX Pictures brings 'The Strangers: Chapter 1', the first part in a new trilogy, to theatres in India on May 17.

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