I don’t talk much about casting but it is a part of what I do. One of my top casting tips is to watch auditions with the sound off. Ask yourself what is the actor giving off- regardless of the words he or she is saying. Casting is one of the times when I think the words get in the way. In one of my consulting jobs, I was called in to help figure out why an actor was floundering in his role.
He was a young pop star in the country involved. He was cast in an extended recurring role. He was meant to be a “bad boy”, rebel, slightly dangerous love interest for a popular young actress on the show. They dressed him in ripped jeans, scuffed motorcycle boots, and a cool leather jacket– meant to emulate a young James Dean. But he wasn’t connecting with the actress or the audience.
I asked the producers to cut together three scenes in which the actor was prominently featured. They could be from anywhere in story. We watched the scenes with the sound off. I asked the writers and produces what this actor was giving off. They chose words like: eager, open, sweet, puppy-dog like. There wasn’t a dangerous bone in his body. We changed his Character Type and he became a great success.
Actors will tell you they can play anything. And that is true. But if they play a role outside their emotional zone they will bring craft, professionalism, and technical skill to the role. But we will be able to see them acting. No audience wants to see acting. They want to see a character being him or herself.
Casting is one of the things that makes Scandi Noir so compulsively watchable. The actors look like real people engaged in a professional, criminal, or ordinary pursuits. They have faces you might see on the street in an ordinary Scandanavia town. They don’t have “Hollywood teeth”.
When I was in South Africa I learned Black Sails was shot at Cape Town Studios. That series passed me when it aired, I decided to catch up. The pirates were very authentically dressed for the ragtag dangerous life they lived. They had missing fingers and toes, lost legs, gouged out eyes, and cruel scars– but they all had perfectly even white teeth!