Casting Spells

After it was mentioned that Richard was in L.A. for an audition and then we found out that he had been cast in Urban and the Shed Crew (a part that is not Richard’s usual fare), I started thinking about the casting process. I was reminded of this video interview with The Hobbit’s casting director, Amy Hubbard:

I didn’t know that there was such a thing as a casting book, though it does make sense that something along these lines would exist; even if it does remind me of the suspect sheets that police use…(It also surprised me that auditions are filmed on such small unassuming cameras)

Confession: I watch Richard’s Thorin audition at least twice a week, I adore it! He looks like Lucas North but then instantly turns into Thorin, almost as if a spell has been cast. Those eyes of his are like storybooks ❀

I enjoyed hearing the casting director talk about her craft, how she tries to cast a personality and not a face. I imagine the director can help or hinder her job greatly, depending on how detailed their wants are and how much freedom they allow her to rely on her own instincts.

Thorin with spiderwebs in his hair
“he came in and read and it was one of those moments where you go: Thorin Oakenshield just turned up, he’s our guy” ~Philippa Boyens

What type of actor might be needed factors into things as well, considering the various situations or locations that may be required in a film and how well the actor can acclimate to them.

stopping gesture with hand
circus? no, absolutely not!

Philippa said that although Thorin was an older aged character in the book, realistically an older actor would have had a rough time physically with the role and Peter talked about how they didn’t let themselves get boxed in by the age issue in regards to Richard. once they had seen him, they wanted him regardless.

Thorin in fighting stance with Orcrist
we know the feeling

I knew that actors sometimes campaigned for a role but I did not know that Elijah Wood made a homemade video to do so for the role of Frodo. enthusiasm and how much an actor really wants a specific role, can be taken into consideration as well.

Richard tipping hat
Hello ma baby, Hello ma honey, Hello ma ragtime gal…

Favoritism and bankable actors were mentioned in the interview too. I don’t like it when a director keeps casting the same actors in their movies over and over again (Martin Scorsese & Leo DiCaprio come to mind), it can damage the integrity of the film, for me. The opposite is when I hear of a big name bankable actor who has the power to not go through a physical audition but insists on one anyway. I wonder how Richard would feel if he found himself in that situation?

BBC America Robin Hood interview
are you sure you have the right Richard Armitage?

It would be nice to have your work so well respected that a director would be willing to hire you based on your reputation alone, but I would still want them to see what they would be getting from me for that particular role; and to reassure myself that I had earned it. Riding on coat-tails, even if they’re your own, can be complicated; shadows are tricky things.

full body profile with shadow


29 thoughts on “Casting Spells

  1. Thank you! I enjoyed watching the casting director interview and the inside information on what goes into their decisions. The audition and commentary with Richard I could watch over and over and over again. Kelbel, IMO you have a real talent for matching comments and pictures!


    1. actually, photobucket (where I store my pics) is being a giant pain today so I had to rely on pics I have downloaded on my computer (which isn’t many) for this post. so I’m very glad to get your compliment today, of all days πŸ˜€


      1. I certainly had not seen the video with Amy Hubbards before. And the compilation of Richard’s interview bits was really handy, too. (To my shame I have only ever watched the Hobbit extras once… And even then I only fast forwarded to the bits where RA was talking or being seen…)


        1. I’ve only seen the Hobbit extras once too, though I have that little bit about Richard’s audition downloaded on my computer and *that* is what I watch almost daily πŸ˜‰


  2. There’s a good documentary around (on HBO and elsewhere ) called “Casting By” which talks more about the casting process and the refusal of the Academy to recognize casting directors as a category. Great war stories from about some important roles) I think also that whether you are asked to audition or get the role without an audition is some sort of status thing – though Richard Armitage doesn’t seem the type to care about that. Nice post.


    1. that sounds like something I would really enjoy watching, I’ll have to track it down. status/class distinctions are not something I give a lot of weight πŸ˜‰


      1. I got that feeling, about you and status – but it’s one reason why a heavy hitter may not audition, or where the audition is negotiated. Coincidentally, on an episode of the series “Episodes” this was the plot. I will check and see if I can find a location for the documentary.


        1. yes, the idea of status makes me antsy. I would rather treat someone accordingly- by their own merit- than by family connections, job title, financial standing,etc. I know how it feels to be judged unfairly by those standards, both positively and negatively πŸ˜• status and respect are often confused though. I am respectful, but I don’t feel any particular status deserves more respect *just because*; it must be earned and upheld. childhood issues :/


          1. I don’t think status is always “just because.” Depends on the situation and the community. Sometimes status is accorded on account of achievement, sometimes because of net worth or position in society or a particular group. It’s always relative or comparative. Respect, not necessarily so. But, in connection with your post, I think many times a director knows what actor he wants in a role based on whatever factors – box office, talent, and knows that the actor can succeed ( or thinks so).Conversely, and actor may know he has the ability to do justice to a role, so auditions are not necessary.
            Still, we hear plenty of stories of this didn’t work out in the end.


          2. it’s more those instances where someone feels entitled, that bother me. regarding the studios though: I agree that not everything is based on actual acting ability, marketing is undoubtedly a part of it. a movie production is a machine with many different parts πŸ™‚


          3. Re:”many different parts,” this is one of the most interesting issues in the documentary- what part of the machine is the casting agent.


  3. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXThank you so much. Fascinating video. Actors, like models also have portfolios I’m sure but very interesting to see what the other side uses.


    1. I never knew what casting involved exactly, I just assumed, so I found it very interesting to hear someone talk about it specifically. and the teenage interviewer was so cute, talking with her hands so animatedly πŸ˜€


  4. Whatever the casting books (varying) say “thou shalt” etc. Stars do become cast. I was disappointed in Monuments Men, as the story is marvellous.. The film was not up to expectation. (Just one opinion – so don’t let it stop anyone seeing it, was glad to have had.) Had to research much more on the history and people. Just my thoughts, that Clooney etc., do not necessarily always satisfy everyone everywhere. And because this was a very key and interesting point of history, the film came nowhere near. Entertaining. No more. Just one example of star casting and getting together friends to do something. (I even thought Ms. Blanchet was rather formula in her role. Maybe script. But.)


    1. there are some actors that the audience expects a certain something from because they do it in almost every movie they are in, no matter the role (sometimes this is just type-casting, other times it’s not). I love to see when those actors are able to branch out and show us something different (George Clooney in things like “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” & “Men Who Stare at Goats” ) I think the cliques that do often occur in the business greatly hinder that kind of exploration though; you have to move outside of your comfort zone in order to see what works and what doesn’t πŸ˜•


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