Zurich: Dan Gilroy on Casting L.A. News Anchor Royalty for 'Nightcrawler'

Pat Harvey, Kent Shocknek and Bill Seward are among the famed L.A. newscasters in the dark drama about the underside of crime reporting

In Nightcrawler, Dan Gilroy's look at the dark underside of L.A. crime reporting, Jake Gyllenhaal plays a freelancer willing to cross any line to get the story.

So it comes as a bit of a surprise to see some of L.A.'s best-known and most respected newscasters onscreen— including KCBS' Pat Harvey, Kent Shocknek of KCAL9 and KNX-AM's Bill Seward.

“We wanted to cast real anchors in our film because actors often can't capture exactly what it is that news anchors have,” said Gilroy, speaking ahead of the European premiere of Nightcrawler at the Zurich Film Festival. “[But] I didn't think any anchors would want to be in our film because they would read the script and say 'You're killing us.' But they all said yes.”

Read more 'Nightcrawler' Review

In fact, Nightcrawler pulls no punches in its depiction of the often brutal and morally suspect world of L.A. crime news reporting, where “if it bleeds, it leads,” and the more brutal the images, the higher the ratings.

But Gilroy, who has worked as a journalist himself, insists he was not out to vilify the profession.

“It's not journalism I'm pointing a finger at,” he said. “They are caught in a system that demands that they provide ratings. It does go very dark in the film, but I have always imagined an audience watching will go further and see that, as the consumers of these images, they are part of the system too.”

Watch more New 'Nightcrawler' Trailer Puts Jake Gyllenhaal at the Scene of the Crime

Nightcrawler, which co-stars Bill Paxton, British actor Riz Ahmed and Rene Russo (who is also Gilroy's wife), premiered at the Toronto Film Festival to rave reviews. The film has been an international sales hit, with Sierra/Affinity pre-selling most of the world in Toronto last year and signing a domestic deal with Open Road this year in Cannes. Open Road will bow Nightcrawler in the U.S. on Halloween.

Twitter: @sroxborough