Most movie goers don't think about movie casting until they see a film that for one reason or anther seems to them to be miscast. For example, two films that struck me as miscast in one or more characters were Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility and Sliding Door with Gwyneth Paltrow. The two casting agents who own Hollywood's The Casting Company tell what it's like to be in casting, which includes a stroll down Casting Lane in their book A Star Is Found: Our Adventures Casting Some of Hollywood's Biggest Movies with a peek into such casting gardens as The Wizard of Oz and The Da Vinci Code and with friendly "Hellos!" called out to film gardeners like Frank Coppola and Ron Howard.
Did you know that Humphrey Bogart was a "minor contract player" when he was cast as Rick in Casablanca? Well, Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins, casting directors of The Casting Company, who landed him the job as a replacement for George Raft, knew. They've gone on, over their long and illustrious careers, to discover and cast names such as Matt Damon, Steve Carell, Virginia Madsen, Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise, John Cusack, Leonardo DiCaprio, Andy Garcia and Michael Keaton. What would the world of movies be without these great casting discoveries? They’ve written the story of their greatest experiences and discoveries, confiding that even with all this history of great discoveries behind them, every script poses the need to prove their casting skill all over again.
Janet and Jane were in Hollywood during the Frank Coppola glory days when he headed up Zoetrope Studios, which was a cooperative of Hollywood talent from all branches of movie making. When the Studio went under, Janet and Jane, who both worked as casting assistants at Zoetrope Studios, set up their own agency. In a brilliant move, they positioned themselves to be part of the growing industry and adventures of Hollywood's movie makers.
Janet and Jane go further than a mere stroll and give tips for those who are actively searching out roles to audition for, like how to overcome nervousness. They illustrate their points with stories from their experience, like the story of how they helped Brendon Frasier overcome his audition nervousness and land his first role—and aren’t we glad they did: Inkheart, Adventure at the Center of the Earth, The Mummy films with stunning Rachel Weisz. Janet and Jane even go so far as to make “true confession,” like it is the male Star who sells the movie, regardless of the great female lead, and they’ve cast great female Stars like Judy Garland, Meg Ryan and Megan Fox, giving them their starts.
A Star Is Found: Our Adventures Casting Some of Hollywood's Biggest Movies is not only a fun book to read, which is told from the alternating perspectives of Janet and Jane, it is fabulously interesting, on top of which, it is also a valuable resource for anyone pursuing or interested in how others pursue a Hollywood acting career! Your personal library has an empty spot just waiting for this book!
[The copy of A Star Is Found: Our Adventures Casting Some of Hollywood's Biggest Movies was from the reviewer's private library.]