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They mold the characters while staying true to script

The 18th Artios Awards honors casting directors.

October 16, 2002|Susan King | Times Staff Writer

Though they don't receive Oscars or Golden Globes, casting directors do get to honor their own every year. Thursday, the Casting Society of America is presenting its 18th annual Artios Awards for excellence in casting in 17 categories at a gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel hosted by actor Orlando Jones. Awards will be handed out to casting directors in film, television and theater.

In conjunction with the honors, we asked two veteran casting directors, one from film and the other primarily from television, to offer insights into the casting process.

Jane Jenkins: Nominated with her partner, Janet Hirschenson, for casting "A Beautiful Mind" and "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

Appearance vs. talent: "It is and always has been based on what the material is. You start with the script and you build a cast on a number of things. Yes, there are times when you are looking for a certain look or a certain quality, but at the end of the day you are always looking for the right actor.

Depending on the budget, you have the latitude of hiring big, famous stars -- and sometimes you don't. On "A Beautiful Mind," it was not an enormously big-budgeted movie. They already had Russell Crowe, and they needed a terrific cast, and they didn't have the money [for more big stars], so we took a chance and found some new, young actors in Paul Bettany and Josh Lucas, and they still haven't stopped working. Jennifer Connelly, who is not a new actress but certainly sort of is just coming into her own, wound up with an Academy Award, and that's the thrill of it all."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday October 16, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 ..CF: Y 6 inches; 222 words Type of Material: Correction
Casting awards -- In some copies of today's Calendar section, the wrong date was given for the Casting Society of America's annual Artios Awards. The event will be held Thursday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The influx of British, Australian and New Zealand actors: "I think the business has become very global, and as a casting director you really have to be aware of actors in a global way that you never had to before. The thing about the Brits, Aussies and Kiwis is that they all have -- or a great many of them have -- an extraordinary ability to handle dialect.

I think a majority of these people who come from the other side of the pond are far better trained than the majority of young American actors, with the exception of people who go to proper schools like Yale Drama or go through a course of real study. A lot of young American actors are limited because they go to an acting class here and there and they learn about being realistic and true to themselves, but when it comes to dressing in a costume and creating a character larger than their own life, they don't always have the technique to do that."

Cami Patton: Nominated with her partner, Meg Liberman, for miniseries for "Band of Brothers" and independent film for "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." They also cast CBS' "King of Queens," Fox's "Grounded for Life" and NBC's "Boomtown."

Appearance vs. talent: "Often there are restrictions on a role and someone has to be good-looking or beautiful or attractive or whatever, but more often it is really about what makes the role work.

When I started [1979] in regular episodic television, you would have a lot of studio and network input on the pilot. Once you go to the series, pretty much the producers ran the show. [Now,] there is considerably more involvement from the studio and the work level on an episode-to-episode basis -- and, you know, it feels in reality like the stakes are higher."

The influx of British, Australian and New Zealand actors: "I think, in television, it sort of becomes the usual suspects to a degree. You know, it is when almost every show that's developed has that 30- to 35-year-old leading man -- that has gotten very hard to find. It's harder to find somebody new here ... who can carry a lead in a series. What happens is that the minute you start looking at a place like Australia or England, you have a huge talent pool that we haven't over-accessed, [people] that do have enough behind them to be able to do those kind of roles."

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