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  M.   January 24, 2014

By Katherine Monk, Postmedia News

Star plays a troubled man in Sundance-debuting thriller The Voices

PARK CITY, UTAH — Marjane Satrapi thought Ryan Reynolds was all wrong for the lead in her new movie, The Voices, a twisted thriller that had been lingering for years but had its world premiere here at the Sundance Film Festival this week.

According to the award-winning director of Persepolis, the Canadian was too “boyish and handsome” to play the part of Jerry, a man who works in shipping at a bathroom fixture warehouse and talks to his pets.

Satrapi was so convinced he couldn’t pull off the part of a man with severe personality disorder that she was hoping he would be late for the meeting and she could have a decent excuse to say no.

“But he arrived 10 minutes early, like I do.” And once she had a chance to look into his puppy dog peepers, she changed her mind.

“He has these extremely creepy eyes … deeply set,” she says. “That’s when I said let’s make this movie together.”

Reynolds plays opposite an all-star cast that includes Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick and Jacki Weaver in the disturbing but highly entertaining ride.

But the real scene-stealers are an English mastiff and a ginger tabby. They “speak” to Jerry throughout the picture and provide the voices of his conscience.

Satrapi says she had originally planned on using a Labrador retriever for the role of Bosco, the dog.

But the Mastiff was more sympathetic, and provided the visual effects team with an easier mouth to manipulate.

The tabby, on the other hand, was a lock.

“There were lots of cats that looked cute,” she says. But we found an orange cat with a nasty look. You could believe he was a nasty Scottish guy.”

If all that sounds a little bizarre, it’s nowhere near as bizarre as the actual film, which elicited many vocal reactions at the late screening Wednesday, as well as a few early exits.

“This is not a movie out to save the world,” says Satrapi, who looked at many scripts after her animated film and graphic novel established her as a storyteller.

“I mostly got stories about the Middle East and women buying handbags … they didn’t interest me,” she says.

“This one I couldn’t put down … it was so f — ed up! So that’s the one I chose. I think it’s cool.”