Regardless of their success level, many actors seem to dread auditions, which sometimes replicate the "pick me!" anxiety of a schoolyard basketball game, only on a much grander scale. But as it turns out, plenty of directors find the process stressful as well.
At the Envelope Directors Round Table, six of the year's top filmmakers talked about the ins and outs of casting: Nicole Holofcener of "Enough Said," Steve McQueen of "12 Years a Slave," J.C. Chandor of "All Is Lost," Spike Jonze of "Her," Paul Greengrass of "Captain Phillips" and John Lee Hancock of "Saving Mr. Banks."
"It's a shame because sometimes somebody will walk in the door and you know already that you're not going to cast that person, and you have to have them read," Holofcener said. "It's painful for me to know that they have to go through that. I don't like auditioning people. As exciting as it can be when you do find the right person, I tend to take on their anxiety and want to take care of them."
"It's like [being in] the middle of a bad toast," Chandor added. "I've got to get better at that. Does anyone love that process?"
McQueen then chimed in with his solution. "The secret to auditions is a great casting director. I had an amazing lady called Francine Maisler for '12 Years a Slave.'"
One of Maisler's great finds was newcomer Lupita Nyong'o, whose supporting performance as the tortured plantation slave Patsey has already earned Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations.
"Looking for Lupita was like looking for Scarlett O'Hara," McQueen said. "It was over 1,000 actresses we looked at, models, all kinds of people. She was a diamond in the rough."
Jonze agreed that casting can be difficult but also said he has much to gain from the process. "I definitely feel the pain of when somebody's anxious and you want to make them comfortable, but I also feel like I learn so much about what the character needs by reading with people right and wrong, and you kind of get down to the essence of what the character is, and therefore you start to know what the essence of the person you need to cast is."
For more from the Directors Round Table, watch the full video above and check back for daily highlights.
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