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March 26, 2012 at 08:34 PM EDT

In July 2008, MGM announced it had acquired and greenlit the Cabin script. The project was further developed at MGM’s subsidiary United Artists, which was being partly overseen by Tom Cruise. As a result, Goddard and Whedon found themselves in the unusual position of receiving notes from Jerry Maguire.

In traditional horror-movie style, Goddard cast up-and-comers to play his five archetypal hero-victims: New Zealander Hutchison, Guiding Light‘s Connolly (pictured above), Whedon’s Dollhouse alum Kranz, and Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams. Goddard cast the then relatively unknown Hemsworth to play the film’s jock, Curt. “We probably saw over 100 people for that role,” says Goddard. “I was looking for actors that can break your heart. He just had that. As soon as he walked out of the room I said, ‘That guy’s got the job.’ “

NEXT: The film’s fate hangs in the balance, and help comes from an unexpected place

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