A few days ago I had a dream that Janet and I gave up up on being artists and decided to start our own casting agency. Janet, who actually has had a career in casting and has worked beneath people less qualified than herself, was my assistant. It went something like this:
Janet: “So, who should we cast as the lead in “There are Too Many Bridges in Seattle?”
Me: “You know that hot guy with the mean eyes that shot Scarlett in that movie?”
Janet: “Do you mean Jonathan Rhys Meyers from the Woody Allen movie, Match Point?”
Me: “Yeah. Well, definitely not him.”
Janet: “Okay. Good. So any ideas as to who then?”
Me: “Well, I was thinking of Tom Hanks but not Tom Hanks. Like he should be hot but not so hot that it’s distracting like with Brad Pitt.”
Janet: “Right. Great. Okay, got it. Now what about the love interest?”
Me: “I really like Emma Thompson.”
Janet: “Hmm. Well, our lead is supposed to be in his early twenties and the love interest has to be around the same age.”
Janet: “Emma Thompson might be a little older than that.”
Janet: “So we might have to cast someone younger than Emma.”
Me: “Oh. That sucks.”
And so it went. In the dream, the movie was successfully cast and a huge hit at the box office. I woke up with a feeling of accomplishment but as the day went on I began to question the probability of this career outside of my dream world. I am almost obscenely gifted at forgetting names. I love movies but I hardly ever remember the names of the actors and as far as directors and producers go, my memory draws a complete blank. I know Steven Spielburg did E.T. and that is about it. It’s embarrassing really. Having grown up with an actor father and a writer/producer mother, I should know more than most. But I don’t and if I am going to go into the field of casting, I better start doing my homework.
I decided to start paying attention. I went to see “I love you, man” because Paul Rudd was in it. I watched the entire film, sat through the credits, and left the theatre knowing that Paul Rudd was in it. Oh yeah, and the Hulk. I retained nothing. I did have however, a sort of epiphany as to why credits don’t help me at all. I don’t pay attention to the character’s names in the movie either, so when the credits roll I am staring at two lists of names that have no meaning to me whatsoever. I like credits where they put the actor’s name next to his picture but I am usually so busy looking at the picture that I don’t have time to read the name.
This may sound like a perfect argument as to why I should not pursue a career in casting, but the truth is I think I would be really good at it. I am always watching movies and complaining that they cast the wrong guy as so and so’s boyfriend and that other guy with the big head from that smart action film would have been so much better. So I might cast Paul Rudd as the perverted dying grandfather and Robert Downey Junior as his son, coping with letting go of his father and trying to be supportive of Emma Thompson, his pregnant fifteen year old daughter who has just realized that she has fallen for her unsuspecting autistic swim mate, Natalie Portman. I would of course find parts for Christopher Walken and Samuel L. Jackson and everything else would fall into place. I doubt other casting experts would agree with these choices but can you honestly tell me you wouldn’t go and see that movie?