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Casting and Rehearsals

Stephen Rea as Niels Bohr 


I have worked with Stephen several times before. He once said to me that I was the only director who is prepared to cast him against type. On stage he's very funny, he's got this absolute God-given talent for comedy, which is hardly ever seen in films. It became a kind of challenge for me, would I cast him in something which most people would not normally see him?

I felt very happy once Stephen was onboard ... that was sort of a linchpin for me, casting the father figure first.

Initially I thought Niels Bohr isn't Stephen Rea at all, even though there might be a physical similarity of some kind. But then I thought that Stephen's seriousness, and dry irony is exactly what seemed to be the prime quality of Niels Bohr. Bohr was scrupulous, ironic, a great father figure and everybody adored him.

So I asked Stephen if he would read the play and do this part. And, of course, he fell in love with it.
 

Daniel Craig and Stephen Rea

Francesca Annis as Margrethe Bohr 


I had to find a wife to match him [Niels Bohr], who was going to be Bohr's conscience. I thought she should be quite feisty, almost a modern sexy woman, and Francesca Annis is exactly that.

Francesca gave Copenhagen the manners and the grace of the period.

I never worked with Francesca before, but I thought she would be great. There were these men who were behaving like unruly boys, and she managed to give a sort of class to the whole piece. That was very much her contribution, and I thought she did a brilliant job.
 

Francesca Annis

Daniel Craig as Werner Heisenberg 


I've always thought of Daniel Craig as an astonishingly good actor... and he does look Germanic. He's got these startling blue eyes."

He didn't quite believe that he could ever pull off a part playing a major scientist. When I asked if he would do Heisenberg, he said "Oh, God, this is going to be a real challenge." And I couldn't see why, I just thought that he would do it wonderfully.

Daniel really understood the material. Whenever he and Stephen were talking about science, they weren't just saying lines.

In fact, he read up on Heisenberg, and constantly challenged me with questions like, "explain to me again the uncertainty principle," or "what's the difference between uranium 235 and 238?"
 

Daniel Craig

Rehearsals 


We did five days of rehearsals which was vital. We examined the scenes, playing them in various degrees of passion. Eventually you discover that, oh yes, this scene works better this way, because the next scene is much more explosive.

Rehearsing meant we had a chance to fling some of the ideas around.

Usually we did everything in three takes, it was rare we went beyond four. I tried to be very clear with the actors about what I wanted, how I wanted it, and how I wanted it staged.

There were a couple of times, however, when my idea for a scene was clearly not working out. We'd quickly re-examine, try some things. We would go up to eight takes to get it right. I think as a director you have to acknowledge that if you've got something wrong, it's wrong. Change it.
 

Davies and Actors
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Director Howard Davies

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