Roundtable: Why Do These Casting Directors Get No Respect?

Five women who put the stars in a slew of this year's hot awards-season projects open up about actors' auditions and why Oscar won't acknowledge them.

LEWIS: Negotiations and then the scheduling. Producers work so closely with us and, because we all worked for Juliet, we're always anticipating a problem. And then trying to circumvent that problem. Producers -- agents, too -- appreciate us because we're constantly communicating what might happen. They trust us.

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Why are most casting directors women?

TAYLOR: Marion said it was because we got paid so poorly.

Meaning that men weren't as willing to take these jobs early on?

TAYLOR: Yes. But really -- maybe this is a sexist thing to say -- I do think women are just more intuitive.

DICERTO: We are also nurturing. And the difficult personalities among directors and producers? We are better able to negotiate those.

EUSTON: I think Juliet has said this before, but casting is like hosting: You're constantly introducing people to each other, making them feel comfortable.

ROSENTHAL: If an actor isn't at ease, they don't do well.

TAYLOR: I think the job also requires a high tolerance and appreciation for people who might not be very likable. You have to be able to think, "That person's really talented" and not let the fact that they aren't nice get in the way -- whether it's the director or an actor. Women are better at that. (Laughter.)

ROSENTHAL: And we ask a lot of questions. That's how we get our information. It's the right and the left sides of the brain working perfectly. And our gender is just smarter.

How has technology changed your jobs?

LEWIS: Right now I'm casting a new project and we're taping the actors -- that's how directors and producers want to view people for the first time now. But I'm still sitting there in the same old-fashioned way: Somebody walks in the room, they read, I thank them, and my assistant walks them out and thanks them again for coming in.

EUSTON: We still have schedules on session sheets and we write on those.

ROSENTHAL: That's the same. But when you make your lists, do you guys write them?

EUSTON: Handwrite it, yes.

DICERTO: Yeah, of course.

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LEWIS: Again, all those things were passed down to us -- like the way our session sheets are typed up -- from Marion to Juliet. When I worked for Juliet I knew, "This is how Marion did it." For example, when we have our actor sessions, we also list their agents. But when we have our director sessions, we never list the actors' agents. (Laughter.)

DICERTO: There are a lot of casting directors who use the Internet. Many have Facebook pages that actors can visit, "Like" and submit pictures and videos. It's very instant.

LEWIS: But what gets complicated is when you get casting ideas from agents -- and we go through them carefully -- we call them and tell them who we want to see, then all of a sudden you will just start getting self-tapes [unsolicited video auditions submitted by the actor].

ROSENTHAL: It's like showing up for an audition without an appointment.

Has the self-tape replaced the unsolicited picture-and-résumé being dropped off at your front door?

ROSENTHAL: No. Self-tapes are definitely worse!

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