Annette Bening, Lily Collins, Steven Yeun Share Personal Casting Call Memories at Artios Awards

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Annette Bening, Lily Collins and Steven Yuen

"We’re here to honor achievement in the most difficult of creative positions – the casting director,” said host Joel McHale at the 32nd annual Casting Society of America's awards held at the Beverly Hilton.

Judging by the acceptance speeches at the 32nd Annual Artios Awards, casting requires long hours, a lot of late-night meals and patient spouses. “We’re here to honor achievement in the most difficult of creative positions — the casting director,” announced host Joel McHale, right after quipping that “These awards are now too old to play the love interest in a studio film.”

La La Land, Hidden Figures and Moonlight were among the film honorees, while Mr. Robot and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend took home prizes in the TV categories. The Hoyt Bowers Award went to Nina Gold, who among her other achievements has cast actors in Oscar-winning performances for the past five years.  

But the biggest round of applause of the night at the Beverly Hilton hotel went to legendary casting director Lynn Stalmaster, who in 2016 received the first-ever Academy Honorary Award for casting. "Being with all of you tonight is very special for me,” said Stalmaster once the ovation died down. "Yes, the Oscar has my name on it, but as far as I'm concerned it also belongs to all of you. I want you to know the pride I feel for the achievements of today's casting directors and how impressed I am with your creativity. I'm also pleased with the ways casting directors are being recognized for their contributions. I genuinely hope this first Oscar for casting is the first of many for years to come.”

Stalmaster also thanked the CSA for the Career Achievement award bearing his name, which was given to Annette Bening. Bening thanked her husband Warren Beatty, who also was in attendance, as well as Stalmaster and the CSA. "I am so lucky that I get to do what I love. And I see that tonight that all of you are here in the same way. You get to do what you love," said Bening. "You know us better than anyone. You know us when we're foolish, which, of course, we must be. And you know us when we're not quite on our best game. And you know us in those magical little moments where the right person comes in at the right moment, for the right role. And you see it. And so I'm grateful to you to have chosen me for this moment.”

With 24 awards being handed out over the course of the evening, and the eyes and ears of prominent casting directors on them, each presenter took the opportunity not just to share their best angle ("We're announcing three awards to show you our range," Black-ish’s Yara Shahidi deadpanned) but also their memories of casting sessions — good, bad and ugly.

Steven Yeun recalled how the casting director for The Walking Dead told him to “get the hell out,” go to his car, come back and do better. "I went to my car, where I probably cried for at least five minutes. Then I worked on it, I came back and I did it," said Yeun. “The greatest thing they gave to me was a proper ass-kicking.” 

Max Greenfield read emails from 2010 from auditions for series he didn't land — Traffic Light, Perfect Couples, Vampire Diaries and Harry's Law — while Constance Zimmer thanked the casting directors for parts she didn't land because they led her to the jobs she had gotten — even if meant losing Modern Family to her friend Julie Bowen. 

Peter MacNicol told the audience how he stuffed his cowboy boots, resulting in in his pants appearing too short, to make himself seem taller for his Sophie's Choice audition. And Lily Collins recalled how she booked the lead in Mirror, Mirror by going back into the audition room and asking to try one more thing after not nailing her first 10 attempts. "I almost punched the casting director," she said.

Ron Livingston thanked the casting directors of Standoff for introducing him to his wife Rosemarie DeWitt and forcing her to spend 12 hours with him for the better part of a year. But as the night progressed and DeWitt remarked that it was starting to feel like when you walk into the casting session at 6 p.m. and the casting director has been there since 10 a.m., the actress found that the best way to summarize the gratitude of every actor in the room was in one simple sentence: “You make our dreams come true.”