The Core-4. That’s what I call actors Ralf Scheepers, Kevin Cusick, Sarah Haruko and Lee Baptiste. These four are the principal actors in The Devil’s Five because they are the ones who have the most screen time, dialogue and thus are central or the key to the foundation of the not just segment, but entire feature film Devil’s Five.
When I was casting the movie I was more than aware of this. I was not just looking for thespians that looked like the characters in the script, I was also determined to find the best actors available. When auditioning I weighed in their attitude, commitment to acting, besides how well they performed the sides given to them.
Kevin Cusick has the most screen of any character in The Devil’s Five. So it was paramount that he not just had the acting chops to pull off the character, but dramatic strength to carry this story. If he didn’t, we would be in trouble. But that was never a concern of mine because I felt he was the best actor I auditioned for not just his part , but the entire movie.
Kevin first displayed this belief I had in him, when I learned that he held rehearsal with Lee and Sarah at his place, even including an acting coach to help them all prepare as a team.
Kevin further demonstrated I made the right choice when he came fully prepared to rattle off pages of dialogue and hit all the targets that outlined his character’s arc. He did this in such a selfless manner that it feed his fellow actors, so they could bounce off each other and all achieve excellence.
Lee Baptiste ended up playing the role after the original actor couldn’t make the new shooting dates. I really admired Lee’s no guff approach. Not only did he bring a powerful physical presence that was palpable, but he carried this over to the way he articulated. There was an abruptness that hinged almost on violence that highlighted the choices he made in not just his body language, but the way he expressed himself. In other words he brought the muscle in comparison to Kevin’s more cerebral approach.
I also loved the physical differences between Kevin & Lee. Besides the contrast of their skin color, age and physical stature, when you combined the way the actors carried things out, it was very easy to picture them not just as partners, but experienced officers whose occupation is to investigate and solve crimes.
Lee also understood his position in the hierarchy of his partnership. Kevin was to take the lead, but when his time came, he delivered without apology. For that kind of understanding I will always be thankful.
Sarah Haruko was nothing short of fantastic. Not only did she bring femininity the movie needed, but did so as a completely believable officer of the law. It was crucial to me that she didn’t come across as butch or a man in a female body. I wanted her to absolutely be a woman.
There was never any doubt about her onscreen conviction and she truthfully had the second most dialogue to communicate to the audience. Ever since her audition I just loved the way she spoke. She had a true sense of patience that came across as controlled professionalism that was needed to accurately portray her part.
Also her stunningly beautiful Asian good looks mixed wonderfully against her fellow actors, bringing not just cultural diversity, but helped create the strikingly different human landscape I always aim for my movies to have.
I got very lucky with the incredible four people that made up of The Devil’s FiveCore-4. . They individually came fully ready to mix it up on screen, challenging each other to reach the highest levels of performance. They did this completely together as a unified team. Maybe just as important was the humbleness and openness each had at trying to attain such a high level mark as actors.