Lobster, The: Making of (Part 2)–Casting Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz and Placing them in the Woods

The casting was a whirlwind and a dream.

A lot of actors are very attracted to Yorgos’ work and to the way he works. He creates an environment of trust with the cast on set, and the very special performances reflect that trust.

Lanthimos has a strong following in the acting community: “An awful lot of actors are big fans of his work. Actors are particularly drawn to his world and what he’s about and so when we went out to cast The Lobster, we just had a tremendous reaction. It was clear to us that there were a lot of interesting people who would like to be part of it.” He concludes, “And we just lucked out. We got a phenomenal cast led by Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz.”

Colin Farrell

Magiday: “We were thrilled when Colin fell in love with the story and that he was so passionate about working with Yorgos. Yorgos had decided very early on that he wanted both Colin and Rachel in the film and so we were incredibly fortunate that they, and our other cast, responded so strongly to the script. Yorgos manages to create such a unique connection with the cast and the material.”

Dempsey picks up the thread of David’s character: “Yorgos doesn’t lay it all out; he relies on the individual to figure it out. You do see the world of The Lobster through David’s eyes because he’s the one who is brought to The Hotel and he’s sort of an inscrutable individual, not in a calculated way, he just is. He’s portrayed as a simple individual but his actions can be quite sudden, unexpected and provocative. You have to stay with David, it’s his story. David is an enigma but also a sort of everyman as well, within this mysterious universe.”

“I’ve never had less of an idea on a character’s back story than I do on this film”, Colin Farrell explains, “and that’s not a complaint.” He continues, “When I first talked to Yorgos it was pretty clear early on that he doesn’t have much of an interest in back story. Which is really cool, because the world is so complete in itself; it’s so far detached from any recognizable form of social structure. It does represent certain things that are of course existent in the world today, but it does it in such a particular and heightened fashion that it’s hard to draw parallels between any worlds I’ve known in my 37 years of being alive and the world that’s existent in this film.” He concludes, “There’s been this delightful air of uncertainty throughout.”

Farrell says about his character, David: “In the first scene, when we meet David, he’s being dumped by his wife, so subsequently my guy’s suffering a very acute sense of loneliness.

What makes David the leading character: “He’s the one character that takes the audience through the three different worlds; he’s the one character we meet in The City, we’re taken to The Hotel, then taken to the forest and then we end up going back to The City.”


The Hotel

Olivia Colman, who plays The Hotel Manager, observes: “For some reason we can’t cope that people want to be single and it’s gone that bit further in The Lobster.”

Ben Whishaw

Whishaw plays another new hotel resident, known by his defining character trait: Limping Man. Whishaw explains how he fits into the storyline. “His relationship with David is a relationship that also includes Lisping Man, played by John C. Reilly. David and Limping Man are new arrivals at The Hotel but they quickly form a friendship of sorts with Lisping Man. Whishaw concludes, “It’s been wonderful to work with Colin. I’m just really blown away by how beautifully he’s holding the centre of the film. He’s completely transformed himself and seems to be completely at ease in the oddness of this world.”

Entering The Hotel is a curious process for the new arrivals. Colman’s character may seem straightforward on the surface, but in fact, as Colman reveals, “She is sort of a prison officer.” The rules governing The Hotel are lengthy, complex and inflexible. All those detained are required to wear a certain uniform and follow a rigorous timetable. Everyone lives in fear of the dark repercussions if they aren’t able to conform. Colman further observes of her character, “She’s a bit ‘Nurse Ratched’. She’s the one that’s in charge of changing everyone to animals if they fail to hook up.”


The Woods

Colin Farrell picks up the storyline: “The ones that question the system are those that live out in the forest and have dedicated their lives to being everything that The Hotel isn’t; so they’ve dedicated their lives to being, as they call themselves, Loners. They listen to music, they dance but they dance to whatever’s in their own headset so that they’re not dancing with another person. If somebody’s in trouble they won’t help them out, you’re not allowed to flirt with anyone else, there’s no getting together, there’s no coupling of any sort.”

Surprisingly, the woodland setting plays host to an equally repressive and vicious regime. “You’d think to leave the kind of heavily doctrinated system of The Hotel and go into the forest would mean freedom from all the rules and structure of The Hotel,” says Farrell. “You realise that any kind of dominating structure, any kind of hard and fast rules that’s imposed upon any human being exposes itself as unnatural at some stage. What is more, the world of The Loners is equally if not more brutal as the world of The Hotel.”

Lea Seydoux

Léa Seydoux plays the highly dogmatic head of this complex group. “Loner Leader is a leader,” Seydoux explains. Her character seems arcane and unknowable. As Seydoux puts it, “I think it’s difficult to really understand her because she hides.”

Rachel Weisz

In The Woods David meets someone to whom he feels truly connected in Short Sighted Woman, played by Rachel Weisz. Weisz, who had been a fan of Dogtooth and who had been keen to work with Lanthimos arrived on set and was immediately immersed in the film without having prepared at all.  She remembers: “The only real preparation was learning my lines because I was not playing someone I could recognisably research.” Her enthusiasm about the process is palpable. “That’s part of the joy of it,” she continues. “It’s all in a sense very improvisational, not in terms of the words or the text, but in terms of what happens; I’m learning about the universe as I film it.”

The Lobster was filmed chronologically which made for a unique acting experience. Lee Magiday explains more: “Colin Farrell is the only person who’s in the film from beginning to end. Rachel Weisz arrived three weeks before the end of the shoot, just as we moved from The Hotel to The Woods. She hadn’t met Colin, didn’t know any of the other cast so it was fantastic to watch her embrace the whole process. It was as if she had been with us the whole time.”

For Rachel Weisz, The Loners are “people who are renegades, and who live in defiance of the rules of this world. They live as completely single people; so you’re allowed to have friendships and conversations but you’re not allowed to flirt or kiss or touch, you have to stay alone. The rule is you have to remain single; it’s a very rule bound universe.  The whole film is bound by many, many rules.”

Since the cast is international, a decision was made that the actors were to use their own accents, as producer Magiday explains: “It’s supposed to represent the world of The Lobster; it’s about a society where everybody is natural to whom they are as people. That was an important part of the process for Yorgos.”