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: I tell people, "Don't do anything different."
EUSTON: Especially for the director session.
LEWIS: Another thing we learned from Juliet is to give actors as much info as we can about the role and the director. We set up people for Woody by saying, "Know the meeting will be 10 seconds long. There's nothing to be nervous about. It will be over before you know it."
EUSTON: If I'm in a session and the director isn't giving anyone direction -- they let the person do it once, say thank you and leave -- I tell everybody in the waiting room, "Don't think you did something wrong." Actors always wait [for feedback], so I want them to know the director is doing it to everybody.
ABC's Grey's Anatomy proved a milestone for so-called "colorblind casting" a decade ago. How much freedom do you have to cast different races? Is TV more open than film?
EUSTON: I have great freedom, especially on Orange Is the New Black. I bring in all ethnicities.
ROSENTHAL: It depends. I'm working on a period movie right now and it just doesn't make sense for certain ethnicities to be in the film.
TAYLOR: Woody has been shooting in Europe lately, but for so long he wrote about the Upper East Side -- which didn't lend to a lot of diversity. But he's particularly conscious of it when he can be. In Deconstructing Harry, for example, he cast actress Hazelle Goodman in a part that wasn't written for an African-American.
EUSTON: That's why Orange is so amazing. I can just cast the best actors. I mean, I cast a transgender woman! They wanted an authentic, black transgender woman. I looked everywhere. I'd auditioned Laverne Cox before -- she was gorgeous, had such a great attitude and could really act. As soon I read Orange, I said, "Laverne has to do this." But the whole Orange cast is amazing. They are all "character women." They are minorities; many are older women who never got opportunities to have an arc on a TV show. They would play like "Nurse No. 1" in Law & Order, and now they have 13 episodes to develop the story.
When you're scouting for talent off-Broadway or in Los Angeles at community theater productions and you're really taken with someone, do you share your discoveries or keep them private?
DICERTO: We share it among ourselves, right?
LEWIS: Juliet's the best at going to see a play and then writing an entire synopsis for us about her feelings. (Laughter.)
TAYLOR: One thrill of this job is being able to use someone who's never been seen before in an original way.
EUSTON: But you have to be careful with the word "discover," especially if that person has a manager and they have credits [you don't know about]. Unless I pluck somebody off the street, I never say I "discovered" him or her.
ROSENTHAL: I remember once casting someone from an open casting call versus an actress who was much more well-known. The person I cast hasn't gone on to become a huge star, but the art of what we did [on that project] couldn't have been better.
DICERTO: Annaleigh Ashford, who's currently in [the Broadway musical] Kinky Boots, I would love to cast in an indie film. She was on a few episodes of Showtime's Masters of Sex, but she still isn't a name who is going to get recognition for a budget or box office.
LEWIS: Asa Butterfield, who was the lead in [Martin Scorsese's] Hugo, had only been in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Nanny McPhee Returns. I always say, you never know what's going to shine the light on somebody. And Bryan Cranston -- I had nothing to do with Breaking Bad, but he'd been working for years before that show!