Equally essential was the casting of Prince Ashitaka, who appears in almost every scene of the movie. “From the minute Billy Crudup walked in the door, I knew we had Ashitaka,” comments Fletcher. “He is just an amazing actor. Best of all, he really connected with the themes and spirit of the film. I mean it’s a very difficult role because the audience experiences everything through Ashitaka. They have to be riding along on that red elk with him – and Billy understood this on a very deep and active emotional level and couldn’t have given a more subtle and rich performance. I have huge respect and admiration and love for his work.”