• Simon Roptell

Age will not weary him.

Updated: Sep 16, 2019

One thing that makes Martin Scorsese’s 1995 Casino work is his mainly elderly cast. There is a montage at the end, done in time with the Animal’s the House of the Rising Sun, where you see elderly guy after elderly guy killing or being killed. It feels incredibly real. Many other crime films at that time or since then have lacked such an impact because young people tend to make up the cast. Of course, young people can be criminals; but when it is put to film it always feels to me that I am watching a version of Annie or 1976’s Bugsy Malone, where children are donning lengthy trench coats and imitating their parents. This is due to society’s infatuation with youth, which does not always transfer correctly to the screen.

Without trying to sound patronising, I love working with older actors because they bring a sense of lived in reality to the piece and as I have stated in a previous entry, that most of the cast (save of course for the 4 female warriors leads) are mostly in their late 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Whilst you might say, that you were lucky in the Bronze Age to see 40, I am not as obedient to history as I am to film and that is because film loves the lived in look. In many situations, the lines on someone’s face says more about a character than the lines in a script.

Karl Heinz-Barr is a great example of someone that a vast array of experiences to draw from. He keeps you entertained on set with his life experience and vast array of roles he has played, both in drama and in life. This is our second collaboration, the first being as a lighthouse keeper in a previous film where he sings a shanty in both English and German and he told me stories of his times in foreign pictures with Sir Alec Guinness and Max Von Sydow.

Karl has appeared twice in my films as a Lighthouse Keeper. Must be the beard.

Knowing I was writing for Karl I asked if he had an equivalent shanty for this film and he replied with “How about a forest shanty? I can do it in English, German and Russian if you like?”

Karl is great as Vikrel, someone I cannot really tell you much about for fear of spoiling some of the story for you but he really inhabits the character and I can see he has a lot of fun doing it. I hope to do many more films with Karl for he does it for the fun of it as of course all of we do.


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