Fernando Meirelles wanted the cast to be made of people who had never acted before, and professional actors who were not widely known. One such actor was Matheus Nachtergaele whom Meirelles had seen in a play. But while Meirelles was working on the script, Nachtergaele suddenly became a huge star in Brazil after starring in the hit film O Auto da Compadecida (A Dog’s Will). Meirelles was a little disappointed at first but Nachtergaele promised him that he would disappear into the role of Sandro Cenoura so completely that his stardom would not distract from the film. Nachtergaele moved to the real Cidade de Deus (City of God) where most of the cast lived and lived there for three months to prepare for the role.