recent appearanceat a Halloween party (dressed as himself), Woody Allen usually stays away from the Hollywood party scene, paparazzi, and press.
But the filmmaker wants to make himself heard in the fight for casting directors to be recognised by the Academy, making them eligible to win Academy Awards.
Allen has written an open letter to Hollywood in The Hollywood Reporter, urging his colleagues “to recognise those who find the needles in headshot haystacks.”
Allen writes that he basically discovered Meryl Streep and then-stage actress Dianne Wiest by putting them in his early films — but he wouldn’t have cast them had it not been for Juliet Taylor, his longtime casting director.
“Juliet has forced me to meet and to watch the work of many new people and to hire people on nothing more then her strong recommendation,” Allen writes, adding “Because my films are not special effects films and are about human beings, proper casting is absolutely essential.”
The debate over whether or not casting directors should be an Oscars category is featured in a new documentary “Casting By,” which notes that casting is the only “single-card” opening credit that isn’t recognised by the Academy Awards.
In honour of “Casting By” opening in New York and Los Angeles this month, Woody Allen wrote to THR to support the recognition of casting directors by championing his own:
In my case certainly, the casting director plays a vital part in the making of the movie.
My history shows that my films are full of wonderful performances by actors and actresses I had never heard of and were not only introduced to me by my casting director, Juliet Taylor, but, in any number of cases, pushed on me against my own resistance.
People like Jeff Daniels, Mary Beth Hurt, Patricia Clarkson and others who are people I was unfamiliar with. A number of discoveries and careers have been launched by the energies and resourcefulness of my casting director.
Not only did I use Meryl Streep for a small part in Manhattan when she was a relative unknown, but at the best my casting director helped start the film career of Mariel Hemingway and Dianne Wiest, a stage actress completely unknown to me but known by Juliet Taylor.
I’m particularly difficult in the casting area because the whole process bores and embarrasses me. If it were up to me we would use the same half dozen people in all my pictures, whether they fit or not.
Despite my recalcitrance, Juliet has forced me to meet and to watch the work of many new people and to hire people on nothing more then her strong recommendation.
Because my films are not special effects films and are about human beings, proper casting is absolutely essential. I owe a big part of the success of my films to this scrupulous casting process which I must say if left to my own devices would never have happened.
I might add also, anecdotally, that despite my firm conviction that I could never persuade luminaries like Saul Bellow, Marshall McLuhan, Susan Sontag, Mayor Koch and others to work in my films, the confidence and insistence of my casting director proved more accurate and I wound up getting these unlikely notables.
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