Project Involve (LA): An Evening with Casting Directors and Actors

This evening, Director Rodrigo Garcia (Nine lives, Sopranos), Actress Michelle Forbes (Kalifornia, Swimming with Sharks), Actor David Norona (Six feet under), and Casting directors Libby Goldstein and Junie Lowry Johnson came to talk to us about casting actors.

Rodrigo told us that he auditioned thousands of actors for his latest TV series, In Treatment, until he found two Actresses who looked completely different but both were good to play the wife’s character. He recalled the two actresses in order to read with the lead male, David. “The moment Michelle walked into the room, I instantly knew that she is his wife,” he enthused.

Rodrigo, in contrast to many directors, loves actors, particularly good ones, who always bring something new to the role and surprise him. “They mesmerise me when they do that,” he said. He rather casting talented actors and give them as little direction as possible during the shoot. “The key to great performances is casting the best actors around,” he stressed.

Rodrigo also likes actors who come to the audition prepared. He takes them more seriously and usually gives them another chance to read. Libby and Junie disagreed. As casting directors, who auditioned thousands of actors, are not impressed by actors who memorise their lines. They rather see them reading from paper.

Libby and Junie find their actors from watching a lot of TV. If they like someone, they call them for an audition. If they find a good actor, who doesn’t fit for the role, they keep her in mind for the next project. They even audition actors from across the world over the internet. They recently have cast an Austrian actress, who they auditioned over the internet.

The actors, David and Michelle, spoke about their experience working with directors. They said that actors, like children, like to be attended to. They want directors to pay attention to their hard work and give them feedback. Apparently, they rarely get that. Many directors don’t communicate with or even watch them performing, “The director was on his Blackberry when I was delivering my line,” Michelle exclaimed.

Rodrigo’s final advice to actors: casting is like dating, if you don’t get the part then stop dwelling on it and move on. It doesn’t mean that you’re no good; it’s just that you don’t fit for this particular role.

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