“Go with your gut feeling” was casting director and producer Fred Roos’ message at the Talentspotting seminar at the Talent Campus Wednesday.
The event kicked off with a 20-minute film featuring Roos himself and any number of Hollywood greats expounding on the man and the methods that discovered and kick started, among many, the careers of Jack Nicholson, Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise.
A large and attentive crowd, featuring any number of thesps looking to get cast or cast again, sat rapt as Roos said how “even at film school at UCLA I enjoyed finding the right actor. I was good at it.”
With anecdotes flying thick and fast, Roos told how Francis Ford Coppola “decided to change the usual methods by throwing a party, working the room and chatting with everyone. It was so unnatural! All these actors watching us over their drinks, wondering if we were coming their way. It was very funny!”
Surprise guest, German uberthesp Martina Gedeck, revealed how when she started “there were no movies. You had to be on TV. Casting here now is pretty much like in the U.S. but we tend not to have readings. We try to act the scene and it’s very artificial.”
Feeling their pain, Roos said: “So many think it’s ‘about me.’ It isn’t. Sometimes you just want blond or dark or tall or short.”
The conversation moving onto directors, Roos said flexibility is key: “I’ve worked with directors where we had a clear idea only to be totally turned around by the actor. You have to be open.”
On his working methods and where he gets his instincts, Roos said “I talk to actors in depth.” Wearing his producer’s hat, Roos said he’s ambivalent about Hollwood’s reliance on star names: “To get a project off the ground you need attachments. That’s another word for actors. In the past you could walk in with a script and director. Now they want everything laid out on a platter.”
Moderator Sandy Lieberson then turned the sesh over to a lively Q&A with Roos advising actors to keep busy, to keep motivated — “to go to workshops, classes. Like an athlete. Keep sharp. Take command. Make shorts, digital films, student films. Get a camera, make something. Go to every audition. Meet everyone you can. Be in control of yourself.”