Director Jim Sheridan burst onto the scene with the Oscar-winning My Left Foot in 1989 and since then has produced an eclectic body of work including In The Name Of The Father, the autobiographical In America, and the 50 Cent epic Get Rich Or Die Trying.
His latest movie is Brothers, a remake of the 2004 Danish film of the same name about a family torn apart by war and post-traumatic stress disorder. For Sheridan it was his first remake and as such a project that he walked into somewhat trepidatiously.
“I wasn’t consciously trying to make my movie different,” Sheridan says. “I was only trying to answer questions in the original movie that were interesting to me.”
Jim Sheridan’s version of the film is — typical of his work — more family-oriented, focusing on how surviving a painful and spiritually challenging POW experience could change a soldier to the extent that his family can barely recognize him when he returns home. In the film, that soldier is played by Spider-Man himself, Tobey Maguire in a creative casting choice that works simply because audiences would never anticipate that Maguire would go through such brutal psychological changes. It was a casting decision made specifically by Sheridan to play with audience expectations. “That’s why we cast Tobey, so that no one would expect it,” revealed Sheridan.
That casting approach was also applied to the role of Maguire’s ex-con brother who is surprisingly played by the typically gentle Jake Gyllenhaal. “Jake is often thought of as the lovable centre-of-attention character,” said Sheridan.
“I found it interesting to cast him as the edgy ex-con just to play with that image.”