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On the Set of City of Ember with Director Gil Kenan

Part One in a Series of City of Ember Cast and Crew Interviews

By James Colt Harrison

On the Set of City of Ember with Director Gil Kenan

Gil Kenan at the Los Angeles premiere of Monster House.

© Richard Chavez
Page 2

The boy in the book is much younger than Harry Treadaway who plays him in the film. Can you describe the casting process as far as the two kids at the heart of City of Ember?
“It was an interesting process. First, I spent the longest time of my casting life finding a lead and ‘Doon’ for this film. And it took me from coast to coast and in the States, to London and Ireland and every English-speaking country on this planet. The process started by trying to find kind of the perfect characters. At first we started meeting characters that were exactly the age in the book. Then I quickly saw that there was something more important to get... I started to get a better sense of who this character was, and in doing these actions, in his voice, in his predicament and his place in society, he became an older character. He became someone who’s at the higher range of the graduating class than at the younger age.

Harry came along and knocked my socks off. Once I met him, he became Doon and the age issue just became irrelevant. So you ask the ways we divert from the story, I have to be able to kind of be honest to the film and say I’d much rather have a Doon that works in this story than one that is faithful to an age in the novel. And certain other things kind of presented themselves, too. The relationship of two twelve-year-olds has been kind of beaten into the ground in family adventure films, but the dynamic of that kind of teen years age gap between them in the film is, really, it’s fascinating. It creates a completely different dynamic between the two of them. I really enjoyed kind of watching that develop and nurturing it. So that’s the answer there.

And then, of course, I won the lottery with Saoirse Ronan. She’s about to take over the world. She’s amazing. I don’t know if any of you have seen Atonement yet, but she’s like mind-blowing. She fills the screen with light, which is exactly what Lina needs to do in every frame.”

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Fox Walden's City of Ember hits theaters on October 10, 2008.

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