Cronenberg discusses why Rob was the right guy to play Eric Packer in Cosmopolis:
[Laughing] “Well, this is the magic of casting! I think as a director, it’s part of your job. It’s a really important part of your job. I think a lot of people don’t even realize that the director’s involved in casting. Some people say, ‘Did you choose your actors?,’ and I say, ‘Yes. You’re not a director if you don’t.'”
“Of course, you’re juggling many things, like I say. You’re juggling, for example, their passports. This is a Canada / France co-production and we were limited to one American actor. Most people of course don’t know that – nor should they. Paul Giamatti is the only American in this movie even though it takes place in New York City. So from that kind of aspect to just finding the right guy…of course he’s got to be the right age, there are a lot of things that are just basic. And then after that, though, there are no rules. You as a director just have to intuit that this actor will be able to carry off this role.”
“We often talk about chemistry, for example, in movies between actors, let’s say. When I was doing A Dangerous Method, Keira Knightley and Michael Fassbender – how do I know they have chemistry together because I had never seen them in a movie together? They’ve never been in one; they’ve never met each other. I don’t see them together until I’m actually directing them, so I have to be this kind of dating master who can anticipate that this couple will be good together. It’s a strange kind of thing. So you give yourself credit when it works, and you have to berate yourself when somehow it hasn’t worked. That’s basically where you’re left.”
Further, Cronenberg describes the chemistry he had with Rob, saying that Rob was thinking that he’d be “alone in the limo, a one-man show with a lot of day players coming in.” However, Cronenberg said that he had reassured Rob that this wasn’t the case, saying that “[he would] be there; [he would] be there every moment.”
Read the full interview here.