Gold & Sterne: Casting junior ‘Game’ changers

Youth Impact Report 2011: Channeling Talent

Impact: Found the young stars of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” as well as pics “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” and “Attack the Block.”
Next: Cast Dakota Fanning, Kaya Scodelario and Jeremy Irvine in “Now Is Good” and booked Kevin Macdonald’s all-teen ensembler “How I Live Now.”
Causes: Gold’s partner works for Greenpeace; both support homeless charity Shelter.

Casting directors Nina Gold and Robert Sterne have a stellar track record finding the right adults for films such as “The King’s Speech” and “The Iron Lady.” But they’re just as accomplished casting kids, as the duo did this year for “Game of Thrones,” the latest “Chronicles of Narnia” installment and the indie alien-invasion thriller “Attack the Block.”

For HBO’s hit “Thrones,” the pair were tasked with identifying several innocent but clever kids to join an epic fantasy universe filled with royal political intrigue, rampant sexuality and relentless violence. “Finding the kids was definitely the biggest challenge,” says Sterne, who has worked with Gold for six years.

After a wide search, the duo cast teens Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, and Isaac Hempstead Wright to play characters left in precarious straits following their father’s execution in the season-one cliffhanger.

When hunting for the right young thesps, the casting veterans must consider whether the actors can handle such intense material. “We try to keep a balance of not terrifying the kids with too much of the nasty, gory or sexy stuff,” Gold explains.

Though produced on a relatively low budget, “Attack the Block” also demanded a lengthy casting process. The cult genre favorite follows a gang of tough inner-city teens as they defend their public-housing complex from aliens, with several of the roles going to kids who had never been in a film before.