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Casting Munich
The making of Munich began with an exhaustive international search for actors to play the nearly 200 parts in the intricate screenplay, parts ranging from famous political figures to covert agents who work in the shadows. Armed with only a general description of the film's story and the promise of working with Steven Spielberg, casting director Jina Jay traveled the globe looking for fresh and interesting faces. Throughout her search, the focus was on carving out viscerally real characters, rather than relying on star power to drive the film's story. Explains Spielberg, "There are more speaking parts in this film than any I've ever directed, including Catch Me If You Can. Having this many characters in a multi-layered story that spans a couple of years and numerous countries, it was very important to me that even the smallest character be as interesting as the most central character. This story portrays a very painful and tragic part of our collective history, and I wanted to have an amazing ensemble to tell it.”

"We were helped and facilitated by wonderful casting contacts all over the world,” says casting director Jay, whose work would ultimately bring together actors from such diverse places as Algeria, Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen, Albania, Austria, France, Germany, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, the U.K., the U.S., Canada and Japan, as well as local actors from both Malta and Hungary, where the film was primarily shot.

The core of the casting lay in finding the hit squad itself—the five utterly diverse men who, in the wake of the hostage massacre at the 1972 Olympics, agree to upend their personal lives, give up their former identities and take on an unimaginably perilous undercover mission on behalf of Israel.

Spielberg had a very complete vision of what he was looking for in each of them. "I felt it was very important not just to find different looks for each of the five men, but also to find five different acting styles, five different accents, five very unique personalities,” says the director.

The unlikely leader of the group, Avner, is also its youngest member and the only native Israeli. Avner is intensely devoted to his country, but has never had to kill someone before this mission. To play Avner, Spielberg always had in mind Eric Bana, whom he had seen in Ang Lee's adaptation of The Hulk. "When I saw him in The Hulk, I saw a warmth and a strength and even a little trickle of fear behind his eyes, which I think makes him very human. I was very determined that I was going to humanize the character of Avner in this story, so Eric was my first choice from the outset,” states Spielberg.

Bana was in Los Angeles finishing his role in Troy in fall 2003 when he got the call saying that Steven Spielberg would like to see him. After meeting Spielberg on the cavernous set of The Terminal, Bana was taken aback to learn that Spielberg wanted him to take the lead role in an intense thriller about the highly controversial Israeli hit squads. "I was shocked and surprised and thrilled and scared, of course,” says Bana.

Even though he was born and raised in Australia, like many of the cast and crew Bana had his own very personal recollections of the Munich Olympics. He notes, "I was only four or five at the time, but I always remembered some of the images, and it was a story that became very familiar to me through the years. It's an event that keeps coming back at you, because it still seems so current.”

Bana began to research the role intensively, reading not only about the incident in Munich and life as a Mossad agent, but also the complex history of the Middle East conflict. As he did so, he became intrigued by Avner's personal crisis as the mission begins to shake his very foundations. "Avner goes through a real evolution,” Bana observes. "He starts out as someone who is obviously very angry ab

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