Anne Pivcevic (Producer) We looked for a long time for Yury because Yury is quite a pure character. He?s very practical, he?s a doctor but he also has a magnificent sensibility. He?s a poet. He symbolises freedom in the book and the independent spirit. So we needed someone with great inner life, someone who could show a range of emotions on their face. Giacomo and I watched a small film Hans had made, a European filmactually, called the ?The Inverse Canon? and I remember Giacomo calling me into the room saying, ?Look at this guy! Look at this guy! Look at his eyes!?. And then we flew to Prague to audition him. I had to be Lara, which was quite an experience ? came out of that room with my face burning ? But Hans was fantastic! Again we left that room and Giacomo said, ?I think we?ve found Yury.? And that was a really thrilling moment because it was so exciting. It was so risky, so new.
Keira Knightley (Lara) Well, Hans is a complete inspiration for me. I mean, I love his work anyway, I?ve seen quite a bit of it. He?s incredibly focused. I don?t think I?ve ever worked with anyone quite so focused as he is and that?s been really great to work with, because he?s passionate about the project, passionate about the book and I do believe he is Yury Zhivago. I mean, it?s ridiculous how close they are. He?s got a truly poetic soul so it?s been a complete pleasure. Sam Neill (Victor Komorovsky) It?s the first time I?ve done something where the two leads are young enough to be my grandchildren. I?m not fazed by that, I?m very fond of them both. I think Hans is a very talented young actor and he has a tremendous sense of innate integrity and humanity and a sort of innocence which is perfectly right for what we?re doing here and what he?s doing with the character. It?s a difficult role to play and I take my hat off to him. I think he?s doing it with tremendous flair and originality ? and courage too.
Andrew Davies (Scriptwriter) I think we?ve got a terrific cast. Yury Zhivago ? I mean it?s his story, it?s his book, so it?s always going to be a bit of a problem because in the book, and you can?t cheat on the book too much, he?s really quite a passive character. Events overtake him, he gets swept along. He?s not one of those action heroes by a long way. So you need somebody with a wonderful face, who can reflect what?s happening to him and so that you can see it through his eyes. You need someone who can show loads of emotion and loads of warmth and Hans Matheson has got all those things. Besides being an enormously good-looking young man, which I think will please the women who see this film.
Andy Harries (Executive Producer) The thing about Hans I suppose is that ..well, Giacomo was very sure that he was the right one very early on, long before he?d met him actually. He was one of those who came in on a series of tapes, a selection of the Casting Director. Giacomo became very fixated with him, felt sure that he could be the right person. Actually, at the time he was filming in Prague. So Giacomo flew out to meet him and when he came back from Prague, he felt Hans was definitely the one. Again, we had really good, interesting actors up for that role, but Hans has proved to be terrific. Very, very ?he?s compelling. It?s a difficult role because you?re a poet, and a lover and a husband. But I think the poet thing is quite interesting. Hans is quite a mystical man himself, so he?s got right into it. You can?t just be the rugged hero, the handsome lead. It?s not enough. You?ve got to have a sense of being poetic. The poet?s in the soul isn?t it? And I think Hans carries it. So it?s a bold casting. Fun, I think. Interesting.
Giacomo Campiotti (Director) These are the actors that I wanted. These are my first choice, it was always my first choice. Hans I think is making a great job because I think he is an extraordinary person, not only an extraordinary actor. He has a sincerity that is the first thing that Yury Zhivago needs. An actor that plays Zhivago must be everyone but sincere. We must believe him absolutely. Every time I think we can believe in what Hans is doing.