Anderson [the director] had a list of people he was interested in working with and Hayden Christensen was at the top of that list. “I like his work and he seemed like a good fit for the Luke character,” says Anderson. “He told me he wanted to do a movie that was not completely dialogue driven, but not all action either. In our film, he plays a guy who has to use his wits to try and survive a terrifying ordeal.”
Christensen’s heroic Everyman quality works perfectly for the role, says Rattray. “Luke has to absorb all the extraordinary things happening to him, and then he must kick into high gear and become the group’s leader.”
Working with Anderson was a motivator for the actor, who first came to worldwide attention for his role as the young Anakin Skywalker in three Star Wars blockbusters.
“I’ve admired Brad’s work for a while,” Christensen says. “When he approached me with this script, I was really keen to get involved. He’s a very smart filmmaker; super analytical. Brad is on top of every aspect of the movie, and at the same time he allows himself to try and experience what the characters are going through.”
Christensen remembers being intrigued before he finished the first page of the script. “It started with the famous quote from T. S. Eliot’s poem, ‘The Hollow Men,’ ‘This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.’ That was very impactful to me.
“One of the other things I responded to was the containment of the story,” he continues. “Once all the characters get to the bar, there was an intimacy I liked.”
The script’s deft combination of emotion and intellect made the project impossible to turn down. “I was impressed by the way the film could exist on two levels at the same time. One is as a tremendous thriller that’s intended to elicit a very visceral response. On a more subtle level, it’s a medium to explore some very big ideas and philosophies. It’s kind of an examination of what it means to exist.”