The next step was to build a cast around Pearce that Michôd felt confident in. The global success of Animal Kingdom opened doors for him in Los Angeles, and he was in the privileged position to be able to audition some heavyweights. Working with Casting Director Kirsty McGregor, and Lava Bear’s President of Production Tory Metzger, Michôd spent a lot of time reviewing the work of various actors, so by the time he auditioned Robert Pattinson he had worked out what he wanted for the character of Rey. Michôd had never seen a Twilight film and wasn’t overly familiar with Pattinson, but upon meeting together in LA, and after his audition Pattinson quickly became his favourite for the role. Recalls Michôd: “His performance in the tests was really great and real and moving. What I also liked about him was that it was really quite evident to me from our first conversation that he really wanted to do it.”
About the Production - Rob talks about filming in isolated locations in Australia (Page 7)
The remote location was a welcomed retreat for the cast: Publicans Phil and Maz, who manage The Marree Hotel that housed the cast and crew, explain: “(The town folk) are intrigued about the development of the movie, but as far as high profile actors go, they wouldn’t really know them if they tripped over them.”
Given the isolated location (there was only one phone line and no mobile phone reception), a sense of camaraderie developed between the locals, cast and filmmakers. Pattinson summarises the experience: “It’s really interesting. I’ve never shot anywhere like this before, there’s just nothing for miles and miles and miles. I think it’s really fun to work with a crew in a tiny little town where everybody’s hanging out with each other all the time. You develop a great bond, and I haven’t had that for a while. You don’t get that so much with big studio movies.”
The Story and Its Primary Characters
- Details about Rey, Rob's character, and the movie, Rey's accent and he actually speaks some Mandarin (Page 9)
The Rover is set in a degraded world, about 10 years after a severe Western economic collapse. In a period Michôd likens to a Gold Rush or, the more contemporary periods of unrest in Sierra Leone, DRC and Guinea, the mines are one of the only industries still fully operating in Australia principally to feed the still growing economies of China and other Asian centres, and people from all corners of the globe have crawled out to work in and around them.
With harsh economic times comes a desperate struggle for survival, and this world has dragged hustlers and criminals out to the margins of this mining world. In what is almost a de-evolution of humanity, people are forced to do whatever they need to in order to get by. Pearce expands: “The world has really fallen into mayhem. It’s desperate, and I think it’s totally possible that our world could go that way… I think The Rover is just a version of how it could have gone wrong or how it could go wrong.”
Watts agrees that the desperation of the world of the film is a potentially realistic one: “The world of the film is really relevant given the economic collapses in 2008, and Australia has survived that crisis in part because of exports to China and the strength of its mining.”
Michôd explains: “There is a strong sort of Asian flavour in the film but, I wanted it to feel like people have come from everywhere, from all corners of the world.” Rey is a southern American who has travelled with his older brother Henry to Australia to work in the mines. Pattinson and Scoot McNairy are the only American accented characters in the film, but a lot of other accents join them, including Mandarin, Cambodian and of course, Australian. Pattinson’s character speaks some words of Mandarin, and Manyimo, who plays Caleb, has a New Zealand/Zimbabwe accent in real life which Michôd chose to keep this in the film. It was important for the world of the film that accents play across nationalities
- Rob and Guy talk about their characters and their relationship (page 9-10)
The story is a seemingly simple one; it follows the physical journey of the two main characters, Eric (PEARCE) and Rey (PATTINSON), as they embark on a road trip to find Rey’s older brother Henry (MCNAIRY). But the subtle plot gives reign to the emotional development of the characters, and this can be seen predominantly through the union of Eric and Rey. Their journey together becomes an intensely emotional one, as the unlikely acquaintances are forced to deal with their own inner turmoil. The film’s setting is full of people forming some kind of pairing in order to survive and Eric and Rey will join them.
When we first meet Eric at the start of the film, he has basically reached the end of the line. As the world around him has disintegrated, Eric too has disintegrated. Pearce explains: “We find him at an extreme low point… He has nothing left in his life… The lack of justice in this world has eaten away at him.”
Eric is, from the beginning, on an individual journey of sorts. His car is his one last possession and it carries a deep personal significance for him, so when it is stolen by a trio of petty criminals, he sets out on a ruthless mission to get it back – whatever the consequences. Eric has lost all hope and does not care about anything or anyone in this world. His hunt for his car is as much about his need for some kind – any kind – of momentum as it is about his attachment to the car itself.
At the point the two meet, Rey’s journey is about survival. In the bloody aftermath of a heist gone wrong, Rey has been abandoned by his older brother, Henry, and friends, Archie and Caleb, who have left him to die on the side of the road. Upon finding Rey, Eric makes it his mission to seek the medical help Rey needs to survive so he can lead him to Henry and his vehicle. And so their journey together along a dusty and dangerous road begins.
Pearce explains: “We certainly see initially how vulnerable Rey is in the world, particularly as he’s injured and he’s been left behind by his brother. Eric really has no interest… he has not one iota of compassion for this kid. He purely is using him to get back what he needs.” So the two men are forced to stick together out of necessity.
Pattinson describes Rey as “a dependant who has been protected by people his entire life, but he has also burdened them, and he thinks that he can’t really live as an independent person. He’s a little slow, and very, very needy, and he feels like he needs people to look after him all the time.”
Throughout the film, there are several developments that progress Eric and Rey’s emotional journey. Pearce says,“Eric finds some sparks of life and love, ultimately through Rey, that don’t necessarily wake him up and change him or give him any sense of hope or positivity, but they kind of confuse him because he’s lived for so long now in a very depressed state… We see the power shift a little bit, and we actually see that Eric starts to feel something for this kid, and that is not good for Eric. He hasn’t felt anything for anybody for 10 years or so, so it becomes a really complex scenario for him.”
Summary of the Production Notes