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HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY started filming on the 19th and Producer Garth Jennings talks about casting choices.

Father Geek here... THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY started its principle photography yesterday in England at Elstree Studios. The MAGRATHEA site has posted a great interview by M. J. Simpson of Producer Garth Jennings and Director Nick Goldsmith in honor of the start of shooting. I've selected a few of his questions to Garth about casting choices to post here. If this sparks your interest make sure to check out the entire interview (much more detailed) over at MAGRATHEA . Now here's a sample to get you started...

MJ: Can we start off by discussing the cast members who have so far been officially confirmed? Why did you pick Martin Freeman for the role of Arthur?

Garth: “Arthur Dent had to be Martin really. Martin screen-tested for the role many months ago now. Robbie saw the tape along with us and it was the kind of tape you hope you’re going to have but very rarely do, when someone just comes in and nails it.”

“He has just been extraordinary. He has reinvented it so it’s still Arthur but it’s a very new, fresh take on it. As you’ve seen in The Office, he can make even the most preposterous situations real and have real heart. He’s just so natural and wonderful. To see Martin struggling with hitchhiking through the universe is going to be the most lovely thing to watch.”

MJ: What about the unusual choice of Mos Def as Ford?

Garth: “Well, you can’t get more of a contrast than between Martin Freeman and Mos Def. He’s just marvellous, a fabulous bloke. You wait till you meet him, you’ll love him. He’s perfect for Ford. We didn’t know much about Mos before we went to meet him; since meeting him and investigating everything he’s done, it was almost no question – it had to be him.”

MJ: Can you just allay the fears of some people that, although Mos Def is a rap artist, he won’t be playing a hip-hop Ford?

Garth: “No, I think that would be the most appalling thing ever in the history of the world. To be fair, I didn’t know much about Mos Def before I met him and didn’t think that he was going to be right. But that’s why I say, when you meet him, he’s the most wonderful actor first and foremost but he’s also incredibly funny, incredibly clever. He just fits the brief in a most unexpected way really.”

MJ: And Zooey Deschanel will be Trillian. Why did you pick her?

Garth: “Trillian’s one of those characters that needed a bit more going on. She was a character that needed much development and that’s something that Douglas was working quite hard on. Zooey again just fitted the bill as far as being somebody who can be both smart and funny but not irritating. It’s very hard to have somebody who’s very clever and knows lots of things and not have them get under your skin. We found somebody who also works very well with Arthur, to really give Arthur a run for his money – and everyone else. She can hold her own. The last thing we wanted was the token female, and Zooey more than fitted the bill. I could go on about her for ages because she’s absolutely fabulous and she is extraordinary in real life as well. If we just get a bit of what she’s like in real life, I think we’ll be there.”

MJ: I know a lot of people feel Sam Rockwell is a great choice for Zaphod.

Garth: “Sam is an extraordinary fella. He’s the only man I know who can go from a high karate kick, straight into the splits without pulling a muscle and still look cool! He really took to Zaphod like a duck to water and his determination to ‘get it right’ is more than I could hope for. I would imagine it’s a bad idea to let him have an espresso before work unless we have a re-enforced set but other than that I think he’s going to be excellent.”

MJ: Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast was the first casting we heard about but the last of the main roles to be confirmed – why was that?

Garth: “Nick and I received the script for the film just after watching the BBC’s State of Play in which Bill Nighy was fantastic. Bill’s just perfect for Slartibartfast and we never bothered even considering anyone else. I wrote to him on several occasions to ask him to play Slarti but didn’t hear anything back for a while because he was so busy. The next thing I knew, he was in the papers talking about how much he loved the script and how excited he was to be offered the part. His enthusiasm and understanding of Hitchhiker’s is priceless. You can’t ask for more than that.”

Father Geek back again... Well, there's a little abridged taste of the interview... If your interest is fired up hop on over to MAGRATHEA right now and dig into the more detailed edition of Simpson's full interview. Annnnnnd to see our earliest archived story on this long wished-for flick check out our August 22nd, 1998 (my sister's birthday) column... and if your still interested in more on the subject see my Obit of Douglas Adams from May 12, 2001.

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