Toronto: Sandra Oh on U.S. Casting Directors Chasing Rising Canadian Stars

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Sandra Oh

"They want to know us as much as we want to know them"

Hollywood knows the Toronto Film Festival as a glitzy launchpad for Oscar contenders.

But behind the scenes, Toronto is hosting U.S. casting directors eyeing Canadian talent for upcoming Hollywood movies and TV series to shoot in Canada. "They want to know us as much as we want to know them, because Toronto and Vancouver are not that far [from Hollywood] and we're from basically the same talent pool," Canadian actress and Grey's Anatomy star Sandra Oh told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday.

Richard Hicks, president of the Casting Society of America, said Toronto offers a deep dive into local talent for possible roles in U.S. projects. "In two days, you can see 10 movies and actors you don't know," Hicks said while attending the 2014 TIFF Rising Stars showcase of local talent at Bell Lightbox on Monday.

Toronto's Rising Stars program connects breakout Canadian actors with international casting directors and filmmakers to promote their careers. "It's a way for Piers [Handling] and Cameron [Bailey] to single out talent and connect them to the industry," Sarah Gadon, a 2012 Rising Star in Toronto, said of Handling, the festival's CEO and artistic director Bailey.

"It's a way to let actors know it's not just about your premiere. It's a way to reach all the people that come here from around the world and connecting to them," added Gadon, whose film credits include A Dangerous Method, Cosmopolis and Enemy.

The 2014 Rising Stars in Toronto are Sophie Desmarais, Shannon Kook, Alexandre Landry and Julia Sarah Stone, a series regular on The Killing.