Cronenberg talks about the steps it took to cast Rob as Eric Packer, emphasizing the fact that it was a Canada-France co-production, meaning that the film’s location was not in the United States. Therefore, passports and visas became a significant decision-maker in casting the movie. Rob, being the amazing, charismatic, British actor that he was, was perfect for the role:
So I looked at everything I could find that Rob had done, including “Little Ashes,” where he plays the young Salvador Dali, and I thought, yeah, he could really do this. And I think he’s actually extraordinary. It’s ultimately intuition on my part, and casting is a huge part of directing that’s very invisible. Making-of documentaries don’t usually cover the casting process, but for a director it’s a hugely important part of your art. Juggling all those other balls that I was just talking about, and still coming up with the right guy.
Cronenberg further comments about whether he thinks Rob is “eager to change his image after ‘Twilight’, and push into doing different kinds of characters:”
Well, I know from doing interviews with him in Europe that he’s not really thinking in terms of his career. He gets offered a lot of stuff, and it’s usually very conventional, boring stuff. He’s always been interested in doing unusual stuff. He’ll tell you that when they started with “Twilight,” he thought it was kind of an indie film. Which it sort of was, you know! It had Catherine Hardwicke as the original director, and it was an unusual, off-kilter vampire story. Nobody knew that it would be the kind of mainstream success that it became.
In a way, “Cosmopolis” is a lot closer to his heart than “Twilight,” you know. When he read it, he told me that he was also struck by the dialogue. He thought it was incredibly fresh and new and surprising and engaging, and he immediately wanted to do it. He was afraid, because I think he still hasn’t come to terms with the fact that he’s actually an actor! He didn’t grow up thinking he wanted to be an actor. As with many actors, and not just young, inexperienced ones, he wasn’t sure he was good enough! He wasn’t sure he was the right guy, and he didn’t want to be the guy who would bring down this terrific project. So my job, at that point, was to convince him that he was indeed the right guy. That took me about 10 days, I suppose.
Read the full interview here.