One of the most impressive aspects of filmmaker Barry Jenkins’ stunning, Oscar-nominated drama Moonlight is the casting. In telling the story of one young man at three separate stages of his life, Jenkins faced the task of recasting his lead actor three times. For the film to work, the audience has to believe they’re watching the same Chiron as a kid, as a teenager, and as an adult, even though three different actors are inhabiting the role.
It works tremendously, and in an exclusive featurette for Moonlight that we at Collider are happy to share, the filmmakers explain how they approached the casting process. In my first viewing of the film, I was struck how the eyes of each actor—Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes—felt the same in each portion of the film. This is made all the more shocking by the revelation that Jenkins did not allow these actors to meet or watch each other’s performances before shooting their scenes. The encapsulation of Chiron throughout the film’s triptych structure is as much a testament to the acting as it is to Jenkins’ direction, as he guided each actor to a performance that felt like a piece of a whole.
The featurette that this clip highlights can be found on the Moonlight Blu-ray and DVD, which will be released on Tuesday, February 28th—a day after a hopefully triumphant night at the Oscars ceremony in at least a couple of the categories in which Moonlight is nominated. Watch the clip below.