Audience Sympathy for the Villain
That's strictly a function of the actor. By casting Jonathan Rhys Meyers, I was casting somebody who's incredibly naturally magnetic and sweet and tortured and sympathetic. He's got a very winning and charismatic personality, but not it's not aggressive or extroverted charisma, he is not pushy.
Jonathan draws you with a quality and in a way that old actors, like James Mason, used to have. Despite the fact that he does a pretty terrible thing, you don't dislike him, or you almost root for him. It would have been different if I had cast Robert De Niro or Jack Nicholson, actors who have intrinsically tough personalities, and the audience would have a different feeling, but Jonathan is magnetic and you empathize with his suffering.
The Movie's Cynical Morality
I never see these things in terms of cynicism. I always see them as quite realistic. I think it was Mark Twain who said that, “cynicism is the name that they give to realism.” The film is a realistic depiction of a very cold, cruel, and unforgiving world that we live in.
Link between Match Point and Crimes and Misdemeanors
In “Crimes and Misdemenaors,” Martin Landau did a very terrible thing too and his conscience have him trouble on it, and my feeling was that terrible things are done all the time everyday all over the world, and if youre not guided by your own conscience, then there is no higher power to punish you. You have to make these decisions yourself and I feel the same thing is true here with Jonathan. If his own conscience is not going to punish him, then he's fine, then he got away with it.
Martin Landau Vs. Rhys Meyers
Martin Landau struggled with his conscience for a little bit, but it was not going to prevent him from doing what he had to do, kill someone. The same with Jonathan. He had a little moment where he was home alone thinking, “What did I do,” and the audience hears him question himself and hears his thoughts on the matter, but somehow, as he says, you rationalize it and move on, and that's exactly what they do all over the world.
Letting People Read the Scripts Beforehand
I don't let anyone read my scripts. That's one of the reasons that I made the film in England, because in the U.S., the studios are perfectly willing to make films with me, but they want to read the script, and theyd like to know who's in it, and they want to have some kind of relationship or input. The Hollywood studios have one foot in dollars and cents, no matter what happens. They try to make the public feel that life is cozier than it really is in the hopes that more people would come to see the movie, so that they won't lose their shirt on it. Ive never worked that way and I can't, not out of ego or out of any neurosis. I just can't work that way. I was able to raise the money in England with no questions asked about my script.
Lead Character as Tennis Player
I made the character a tennis player for two reasons. First, because the metaphor is very vivid cinematically. Unlike baseball or football, with tennis games you can really see it. You can picture it on a screen in a very graphic way. Secondly, a tennis teacher would involve himself very gracefully and very believably with upper-class people. He would start giving lessons to and start getting involved in their lives without having to strain any credulity at all.
The Film's One American Actress
I was under the impression that we had to use all English actors, because of the tax structure and all that. But it turned out that we had to use a vast percentage, but not 100 percent, of British people. I originally cast Kate Winslet because I wanted an all-British cast, and then shortly before we began shooting, she called and said she had just finished a picture and was exhausted. I could see that she wanted to back out and I understood that completely, because she had a new baby.
Casting Scarlett Johansson
After Kate Winslet dropped out, I went down the list and saw Scarlett's name. I had seen Scarlett in “Lost in Translation” and “Ghost World,” and I thought she was just great. She is beautiful, sexy, and wonderful actress, and very interesting on screen. I just felt like many people that Scarlett was a new legitimate and authentic movie star who had burst on the screen and not in a superficial way. She had real depth to her.
I sent her the script on Friday night, and by Sunday she was in. Scarlett wanted to do it. The first thing I shot with her was early morning. She had just gotten off the plane, flying from the U.S. She had flown all night, and I had no rehearsal with her at all, and she came in and did the scene in the pub with Jonathan Rhys Meyers. It's a hard scene, but she just did it off the top of her head gracefully and beautifully. I immediately knew that all my faith in Scarlett had been justified.
I wanted for the role someone like Scarlett, very, very sexy, so that the audience could understand that Jonathan had this electrifying passion for her right away. I wanted the couple to be a very hot couple with strong chemistry, and I lucked out with both Jonathan and Scarlett.
Philosophy of Luck
The movie reflects my personal philosophy. Ive always been a huge believer in luck. People hate to admit the enormous part that luck plays in life, because it means that much of life is out of our control. Youre always running into people who say, “You know, I make my luck.” Hard work is of course important, and practice and all the disciplinary virtues are meaningful. But in the end, you have to have a lot of luck in your human relationships for them to work. You have to have luck in your career, and with your health. You have to admit how out of control so much of life is, and that's always been a great philosophy of mine. People undervalue the role of luck deliberately because it's scary to admit the enormous part that chance plays in life.