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CAST / CHARACTERS


Cillian Murphy as Robert Capa

The physicist who operates and oversees the final calculations for the massive star-bomb device. Murphy described the character of Capa as a silent outsider, which was due to the fact that only Capa understood the operation and true scale of the star bomb.

Murphy worked with physicist Brian Cox to learn about advanced physics, who praised Murphy's performance as "brilliant" and a "great portrayal as a physicist" touring the CERN facility and learning to copy physicists' mannerisms.

The actor also studied the thriller The Wages of Fear (1953) with Boyle to gain an understanding of the type of suspense that Boyle wanted to create in the film. Murphy said that his involvement in the film caused him to change his views on religion from agnosticism to atheism.


Chris Evans as Mace

The engineer. Evans described his character Mace as one with a military family and background. Mace has a dry and morally uncomplicated personality. Said Evans, "He has a very level head which enables him to operate fairly coherently under pressure-filled situations."


Rose Byrne as Cassie

The space vessel's pilot. Byrne was chosen by the director for her role in Troy (2004). Byrne described Cassie as the most emotional member of the crew, "wearing her heart on her sleeve". Byrne considered Cassie's role among the crew was to possess an even temperament which helps her last the journey.


Michelle Yeoh as Corazon

The biologist who takes care of the ship's "oxygen garden" thats provides both food and carbon to atmosphere recycling during the trip. Boyle cast Yeoh based on her performance in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), and Memoirs of a Geisha (2005).

Yeoh described her character as more spiritual, explaining Corazon's background, as an "Asian influence or that she's always constantly surrounded by organic things – she's very grounded and more down-to-earth." She is emotionally devastated by the destruction of the oxygen garden, rendering her a cold and clinical character for the rest of the film.


Cliff Curtis as Searle

The ship's doctor and psychological officer. He is obsessed with the Sun and how it looks when staring at it without any type of protection. The role of Searle was originally written to be a "slightly stiff" British character. Curtis was drawn to the role based on the script and also expressed interest in working with the director.

Boyle was familiar with Curtis from Training Day (2001) and Whale Rider (2002), and Curtis's audition appealed to Boyle strongly enough to cast the actor as Searle. Curtis initially foresaw an esoteric approach for his character, but he later pursued a military and scientific approach based on the seriousness of the mission.

The actor also compared Searle to the character of Pinbacker, noting their similarities and differences: "Searle would sacrifice those beliefs and views, his life, for the greater good, whereas Pinbacker, who's come to a place he believes is right, would sacrifice the world for his beliefs. They're two sides of the same coin."


Troy Garity as Harvey

The communications officer and second-in-command. Garity's previous work was unknown to Boyle, but the director was impressed enough with the actor upon meeting him that he cast Garity. Garity described the character of Harvey as the only crew member who misses his family back home on Earth and attempts to hide the fact.


Hiroyuki Sanada as Kaneda

The ship's captain. The script originally had an American captain, but Boyle changed the nationality to Japanese after studying the opinions of scientists and space experts. Boyle saw Sanada in The Twilight Samurai (2002), and director Wong Kar-wai recommended the actor to Boyle when the latter sought someone to cast as the Asian captain of the ship.

Sanada's character was originally called Kanada, but he asked Boyle to change the name to Kaneda, a more natural Japanese name. The character was Sanada's second English-language role in cinema, and Sanada learned different forms of English, depending on the circumstances.

Sanada's base English language had a British dialect, and when the actor recited official statements as Kaneda, the dialect was official English. In communicating with other characters as Kaneda, Sanada spoke with an American English accent to reflect the fictional situation of the character training with the rest at NASA.


Benedict Wong as Trey

The navigator. Boyle saw Wong in Dirty Pretty Things (2002). Wong's character, Trey, was a child prodigy who created a computer virus that brought down one-sixth of the world's computers. As a result, Trey is recruited into the space program so his genius could be applied more beneficially.


Mark Strong as Pinbacker

The insane captain of Icarus I, the first ship that was sent to reignite the Sun. Pinbacker was inspired by the character of Sergeant Pinback from Dark Star. The character's disfiguring burns were influenced by the injuries suffered by F1 driver Niki Lauda.

Boyle described the character of Pinbacker as a representation of fundamentalism. The director also described the potentially unrealistic presence of Pinbacker as an example of something that breaks the pattern of realism, similar to his scene in Trainspotting (1996) in which Ewan McGregor's character dives into a toilet.


Chipo Chung as the voice of Icarus

The on-board computer of the spacecraft Icarus II possesses a "natural-language" communication interface, allowing the crew to ask questions, give orders, and receive status updates and warnings verbally, as if they were talking to a human. Indeed, the ship itself is a major character in the movie. This was Chung's first named film role.




Resources: Wikipedia.org, imdb.com,
screenmusings.org





Synopsis & Screenshots



Sunshine 2007

In the year 2050, dark energy is destabilizing the sun, threatening all life on Earth. Scientists conclude that an experimental stellar bomb payload, with a mass equivalent to Manhattan Island, will flush out the infection and restabilize the sun. An experimental spacecraft, Icarus I, is designed to transport the stellar bomb payload to the sun. Unfortunately, the mission fails. Seven years later, a second attempt is made with the Icarus II.


The crew consists of (left to right):
Harvey - the first officer and communication specialist; Dr. Robert Capa - the physicist overseeing the payload's deployment and detonation; Corazón - the botanist who maintains the oxygen garden; Cassie - the pilot who serves as the crew's emotional tether; Dr. Searle - the ship's counselor and medical officer; Trey - the tech savvy navigator; Mace - the engineer who lends a military perspective to the mission; and Captain Kaneda (not shown) - the focused, determined mission leader.


It takes 16 months for them to get close to the sun, as mentioned in the introduction voice over by Capa. As the ship nears the sun, solar noise known as "the [communications] dead zone" begins to interfere with radio communications to Earth. As the ship encountered the "Dead Zone" seven days earlier than expected, the crew is now left with just 24 hours to collect all of their individual thoughts and send each of them off to their loved ones in a last message "packet".


Capa has difficulty in finding his words, and makes several different attempts at his message, accidentally "running out the clock" on Mace. A fight breaks out between Capa and Mace, which lingers as open animosity between the two, despite Mace's apology. Searle has Mace spend a couple of hours in the "Earth" room, which simulates sensual experiences on Earth. Afterward, Mace apologizes to Capa and they become civil toward each other.


The ship has an oxygen garden, tended to by Corazón, to provide both food and carbon to atmosphere recycling during the trip. It is noted that while the ship is only about two-thirds of the way to its destination [the sun], the garden has been producing oxygen at better than expected rates - the ship already has enough oxygen stored up for the delivery, and a quarter of the return trip.


Searle has become fascinated at looking out from the ship's viewport at the approaching sun and is curious what it would be like to experience the unfiltered view. The Icarus' computer (the voice of Chipo Chung) warns him that he can only tolerate 3.1% of the actual light, and Searle has Icarus set the system for 30 seconds of viewing at this 3.1% rate.


The result has some kind of effect on Searle, who begins to spend many hours in the viewing room, repeating his exposures to the sun so often that his skin eventually peels away and sores cover his face. Captain Kaneda has been researching the video logs of Captain Pinbacker, the commander of Icarus I, in an attempt to discover what went wrong, and thereby prevent his crew from making the same errors.


He plays one where Pinbacker describes a small meteor storm that did superficial damage, and is perplexed by Pinbacker's aloof reaction to the event. As the ship approaches Mercury, Harvey picks up a signal from the Icarus I's distress beacon, only hearing the faint signal because it was amplified by the iron in Mercury's mass.


Emphasizing that some of those aboard Icarus I could still be alive, Captain Kaneda explains this point to the crew, and begins a discussion as to whether the current mission should be altered in order to check on the Icarus I's distress beacon. Mace is not happy with the choice to divert from their flight path because their mission has the utmost priority.


Dr. Searle says that he agrees with Mace's assessment, but adds that diverting to the Icarus I could possibly add a second payload [bomb]. He argues that since the Icarus bombs have never existed before and therefore have never been actually detonated either, their existence is "entirely theoretical" and having two could be advantageous if something went wrong with the first one.


There is further heated discussion, which Captain Kaneda finally stops by saying he is handing the decision to the ships most informed person in these matters, their nuclear physicist, Capa. Capa is troubled by being asked to make this decision. He explains to the captain that he simply doesn't have enough information to make an informed and rational decision, and the best he can do is to "flip a coin".


When Kaneda asks "So? heads or tails", Capa replies "Heads: two last best chances are better than one." Capa's decision is finalized by the captain: both Icarus crafts will rendezvous together. Trey plots the course, checks it three separate times, and is satisfied he has been accurate. Trey shifts the Icarus II's course to intercept the Icarus I.


In the many calculations, Trey misses one - the need to readjust the heat shield that protects the ship from the sun's radiation. This error is discovered when there is an emergency declared by the computer after slight damage to the heat shield results from Trey's mistake. The true extent of the damage can only be assessed, and then repaired, by leaving the ship and working directly in space.


Captain Kaneda asks for a volunteer to accompany him and, after refusing to allow the second in command to join him, Capa is volunteered by Mace - this is Mace's way of stating that the current events are a direct result of Capa's decision to alter the original mission, and the "volunteering is clearly made in anger and not by deciding if Capa was the best man for the job."




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