Eragon Star Saved The Film
Ed Speleers, the young star of the upcoming fantasy film Eragon, told SCI FI Wire that he won the title role just as production was about to shut down because the filmmakers had had little success casting the all-important part of the hero, a fledgling dragonrider. The 18-year-old English actor was attending a private British boarding school when his drama teacher suggested that he send in an audition tape for the role in the movie, which is based on Christopher Paolini's best-seller.
"I didn't really tell my friends that I was going out for the part," Speleers said in an interview. "I didn't want to get anyone's hopes up, but I got some encouragement [from his drama teacher], and it all happened rather fast."
Little did Speleers know that his was the last of 100,000 photos and tapes that filmmakers reviewed during an arduous casting process. But when director Stefen Fangmeier saw Speleers, he said he knew the young actor was the right person for the role, the young actor's first movie job. And so was 20th Century Fox chairman Tom Rothman, who gave the OK after viewing Speleers' audition.
"At first we were looking at older actors for the role, but it was written for a 16-, 17-year-old, and he was the one," Fangmeier said. "We all saw that sparkle in him. You just know he could do it and be a movie star."
Once he won the role, Speleers played Eragon, a young man who finds a blue stone and ends up riding a telepathic dragon. Speleers traveled from London to Vancouver, Hungary and Slovakia to shoot the movie. "It was a great opportunity," he said. "I would have been a fool not to do it, but I knew there was some burden of responsibility that came with the part."
Now, Speleers says that he thinks he's well equipped to handle fame. "I feel comfortable about it," he said. "I am ready for it. I made it this far." Eragon co-stars Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Irons, Robert Carlyle and John Malkovich. The film is scheduled to open Dec. 15. —Mike Szymanski