It was definitely more of a creative discussion, I would say, of what pairings would work as a family because obviously they’re moving pieces. I had the opportunity to meet all three of them in person, which is wonderful, to be able to get a sense of who they were and what they read from the script as well. So I think, from the get-go, it was very clear to me that they all connected with it in their own way and in their own experience of death, I guess.
For Edna’s role I really needed someone who had a lot of charisma and a lot of range and who could, at one point be someone charming who you really were rooting for and who could turn on you the next moment. Robyn is just a force. And she has that intensity that was required but also is the sharpest, funniest person. So I think that combination was particularly striking.
For Kay’s role, interestingly, the feedback we kept getting was that she was very hard and unemotional as a character. And I always felt she was the most sympathetic, that she was caught between everyone. For us, she is the protagonist if you needed to single it down to one person. Someone like Emily softens all those hard edges because she’s just the most gracious and amiable charming person. So I felt like she was a good fit and it really was an ‘aha’ moment when we settled on her and thought of her. I’d long been a fan of her work. She has the most incredible instincts.
And with Bella’s character… I’d also been following Bella’s work for a while so I always knew I wanted to work with her. I guess, in the past she’s often been cast, because she’s so stunning physically, as quite feminine, demure characters. Then you meet her and she’s the most down to earth, cool chick. I really wanted a forthrightness in Sam that I saw in Bella and just a real honesty there and a toughness to her.
Where did the character of Jamie come from?