Seymour, who began her career in 1969 with Richard Attenborough's surrealistic musical, Oh What a Lovely War, has evolved into dynamic and deeply earnest actress with close to one hundred credits to her name. By bringing her in as the emotionally astringent Aunt Fiona, Seymour contributed a wholehearted commitment to the story. Developing her character's back story long before the director called, "Action", Seymour explains, "Fiona is detached, cut off from everyone and this suits her. Basically her entire social life are these horses, but she can't touch the horses. She can't relate to the horses other than to watch them from a distance. When this boy comes, she has to start to learn how to relate to other people and to the pain that is with her."
It is a testament of one's skill to be thrown into a scenario where two actors, one seasoned, the other young and fresh to the business of acting, can generate an abundance of emotional frisson to fuel a full-length movie. Mark Rendall who plays young Mark comes equipped with enthusiasm and natural warmth blended with his acting talent making him the perfect foil for Seymour's Fiona. On and off screen, both individuals have a compatible compassion for the story, the characters, and the crew who brought the story to life.
Chesler explains, "Mark showed a tremendous vulnerability plus an understanding and accessibility to that character." And Lindo amplified those thoughts, "Mark Rendall is a wonderful natural actor. I am quite amazed by him every day, particularly the subtlety of his work. It's an emotionally complex role and he understands it and is capable of performing all those emotional moments. He's a rare find. And we are so lucky because when you have a young person in the lead, everything depends on the casting of the boy and he is so perfect."
"My character is a sad person," Rendall explains. "And I'm a happy person so I had to reach down deep to find him." Although he brought with him experience from both feature film and series television, Rendall was still flush with the wonderment of working with Seymour. So many of their scenes were together that they grew quite fond of one another. Seymour's famous maternal instincts enveloped Mark in a cocoon of warmth, which allowed him to develop his character to the fullest. But as much as Rendall is a professional, he is also still a boy - a point demonstrated by his giddiness about his relationship with the young colt. "One day, and I don't know why, the horse just started licking my head. It was our bonding moment," he recalls with a delighted smile.
Add to this mix the catalyst, Charles Martin Smith, who plays Chuck, the park ranger on the island. It is his job to maintain the pure environment in which the wild horses live and the essence of this purity is that Chuck guards against any kind of human influence. That Fiona has lived there alone for some many years is a fact, which Chuck has grudgingly learned to accept. But the addition of young Mark pushes the limits of his tolerance.
Smith is not unfamiliar with this kind of story, having portrayed real-life Canadian author, Farley Mowat, who braved the Arctic alone to study wolves in the film Never Cry Wolf. "Charles Martin Smith was the only one we ever thought about for the role," says Lindo. "He appears in not a lot of the movie and has to create his character in a short amount of time and he does that.