Casting in Los Angeles instead of Phoenix opened up a whole world of options. As I mentioned before, we needed a specific look for the four roles we were casting – i.e. they were a Latino family. Not only did they have to look like a husband, wife, brother, and sister, they also had to be (or look like) a certain ethnicity. That made it tough. In Phoenix, we would’ve had to settle based on the responses we received. In Los Angeles, we had options.
It’s so hard to find that impossible combination – someone who has the right look and delivers a good performance. Sometimes there’s an actor who is amazing, but might not have the right look to fit with the rest of the cast. Or, an actor who looks exactly as I imagined when writing, but might have an accent that’s too strong or not be just the right fit. By the time we started holding auditions in LA, we were in a bit of a time crunch before we started shooting. We weren’t going to settle, but it meant the possibly of auditioning right up until the first day of production. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. We were so lucky in being able to find amazing actors for the roles with plenty of time to spare.
When I’m writing a script, I have a vision of the movie in my head. I imagine a certain look for a role, and that was made easier in this case because we had two roles cast as I was writing, Vikram’s and Olivia’s. Unfortunately one of those people didn’t commit and we had to recast that role. It made casting for Olivia even tougher because I wrote the part with nuances of a certain person in mind, so the first thing I had to do was let that go and make sure I imagined those auditioning as Olivia, not as the original actress.
It’s interesting and terrifying to see words I’ve written performed live for the first time. There were two really cool things that happened. First, I saw a part come to life exactly as I had imagined it while writing. It was a relief to see a scene work when the lines were delivered. Second, I saw lines interpreted in a completely different way than I had imagined…and I kind of liked it. I love seeing how one line can be read so many different ways.
The other thing I learned is that what you see in person can be completely different than what you see on video. I went home after the auditions with certain perpections about each performance and I was blown away by how different some of them looked when I watched them on TV, for better and worse. In one case in particular, we were very torn between two excellent choices and eventually it came down to not just the audition, but also their reel and available content online.
The table read was the icing on the cake. We felt really good about our cast and once we were all in a room together, reading through the entire series, it finally felt like, “yeah, we can do this.” Now all we had to do was make sure everything else was set to go for the first day of production.
Next: Part IV – Prep