How Do Casting Directors Choose Actors

Casting directors have the power to make your dreams come true, but how do they go about choosing actors? Learn all you need to know about the casting process.

Landing a role as an actor is hard work. You’ve got to sign with an agency, hone your acting skills, get headshots, and that’s all before you’ve even been called in for an audition. As you may have guessed, it takes a lot of effort on your part and while your agent will certainly play their role in the success of your career, there is one other person that has a major part to play. We are, of course, talking about the casting director. The one person who has the power to make or break your dreams of Hollywood stardom.

We have in the past discussed the various ways that you can prepare for an audition so that you can make that amazing first impression. However, this time around, we’re going to take a look at the auditioning process from another perspective and answer the question — what do casting directors look for in actors?

But before we do that, let’s get to know the basics.

What does a casting director do?

A casting director’s primary task is to find suitable talent for a specific role. This can involve contacting agencies with briefs for the role, placing ads in local publications, and hosting casting calls and auditions.

Now, that all might sound very straightforward, but it’s important to note that there is a serious weight of responsibility sitting on the shoulders of a casting director. They’re not only responsible for finding suitable talent but that talent must be reliable and very good at their job. If they make a mistake and choose the wrong person, they may need to recast the role and that will take more time. And if you know anything about the entertainment industry, you’ll know that time is money.

How do casting directors find actors?

As previously mentioned, a casting director will usually go directly to a talent agency in their search for a suitable actor or actors to audition for a role. They will often send the brief for the role to multiple agencies but in some cases, they’ll head straight for their favourite agency first. This is why it’s always a good idea to sign up with an agency that has a solid client list and success in placing talent in roles.

The agency will then recommend the talents on its books that match the requirements of the brief or that the agency feels might be a good fit for the role. The casting director will then take a look through those talents’ portfolios to see if any catch their eye. As you can imagine, this is why we stress the importance of having your headshots done by a professional photographer. You only get one chance to make a first impression so it has to be a good one, right?

The casting director will then choose the talents that they want to see in an audition and the agency then informs the lucky talents of the opportunity.

What do casting directors look for in actors?

Now, we’re getting to the juicy bits that all actors want to know — what do casting directors look for in actors?

When the casting director is going through those headshots and portfolios that the agency recommends, they’ll simply be making sure that the actor in question meets the requirements of the brief and perhaps has a certain look that the director or client may be looking for. They may look for experience in acting and will certainly take a look to see what skills the actors possess. However, a lack of experience doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t consider calling an actor in for an audition. But they will hope to see that the actor has made some effort to learn some acting skills or improve those that they already have.

In the audition itself, the casting director will have some specific questions that they will ask or a few lines that they will expect the actor to perform. In some cases, they may simply ask the actor to perform a monologue of their own choosing so it always pays to have one in your back pocket. We can’t say precisely what the casting director will be looking for in relation to the role, but we can tell you some general things they’ll expect from every actor.

They’ll expect you to be:

  • Professional
  • Polite
  • Enthusiastic

Nothing too surprising there but we will put a little emphasis on politeness. A casting director doesn’t just want to know that you can do the job but also that you will be easy to work with and take direction with a minimum of fuss. And don’t think for a moment that this only applies in the audition room. The casting director’s assistants will be around in the waiting room and will certainly take note of any actors that are disrespectful or rude in any way. We realise that this isn’t something that you might think is all that important to a casting director, but it is certainly something that is worth keeping in mind.

Do directors choose actors?

Just to clarify, we’re talking about the director of the production here and not the casting director and this is a question that we’re often asked. The answer really depends on the project and the director themselves. For example, a director for a TV commercial may opt to leave the final decision in the hands of the casting director whereas a director on a feature film will certainly want to have the final say on casting.

Either way, you can be sure that the casting director is basing their decision on the director’s requirements and input. For the most part, if the casting director is impressed with your audition and feels that you are a good fit for a major role, it will definitely help your chances even if the director has the final say.

Whether you’re new to the industry or an old hand looking for a change in actor management, we’d love the chance to speak with you about your acting career. Get in touch with us today or go ahead and apply to join us here at Hunter Talent.



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