You said you didn’t have a lot of input on the adaptation choices, were there any of those decisions that you have been involved in, or did you leave those up to Bernie and the writers?
Well, the biggest creative part of it that I had to play was the casting, because I was there from day one. I love working with actors and talent, that’s my real passion, so I said “Instead of hiring an outside casting director, let me just do it, let me just do it myself and I would love to be a part of that.”
I did have a lot of say in, “I really want to bring this person back,” or there were a couple times when I went, “Maybe this isn’t your first choice but just trust me and bring her in, I just want you to see her” type of stuff, because I actually know a lot of actors in L.A. I had seen Mary Kate prior to when we brought her in, she was one of those: “We definitely need to see this girl, she is amazing,” and then she ended up being perfect.
You’ve obviously gone for diversity, it’s modern day and not everyone is Caucasian, which is great, but I wouldn’t say that was the biggest decision that has gone into casting. Tell us about the overall process.
Sure, it was a very long process, especially for the first four girls. We really took our time with it, I know with Ashley – I had started to read one of her interviews and she was like, “Yeah, I came in for my audition and didn’t hear anything for a month so I assumed I didn’t get it,” and that was just because it literally took us that long with going back over – we taped every audition, we actually ran two series of auditions after we did the first batch.
Ashley came in in the first batch, and so did Laura and so did Mary Kate. I remember seeing the three of them and making a note that these three will go through, I do remember that. I even remember seeing Ashley’s headshot, because she let me a note. The casting program that I use is all done online to save some trees, so people aren’t sending in their headshots, and there’s a spot where you can leave a note.
A lot of times people just do a generic, “I would love to read for you,” but every once in a while you’ll get someone who actually puts some thought into their note, and Ashley was one of those people, she was like, “I love Pride and Prejudice, I’ve read every Jane Austen novel, it would be great just to come in and read for you,” and I was like “Alright, you took a little extra time, that’s great.”
After her group came through, Hank actually wanted to see more, because this was his first experience doing anything like this, he had never touched scripted at all, so he was like, “So, I want to see more,” and we said, “Okay great, we’ll see more.” I think maybe two or three people in the second batch we ended up calling back, but the majority of the people came from the first batch.
Then we held a callback, we picked our top 3-5 in each of the four roles. I do my callbacks in, it’s considered, a more theatre style, because when you audition in the theatre in the callbacks you all come back and you’re in a room all together, and they pair you up and you’re basically acting in front of your peers. With theatre the reason they do that is because you will be performing in front of a live audience, but I find it is useful in any kind of casting because when you’re being watched by your peers it kind of ups your game, or it destroys you.
Especially with the way we were going to be shooting, which was a lot of pages really quickly, we needed them to be able to do that. You have to be able to be ready, no matter who’s in the room, you gotta up your game, so that was something I felt would help with the auditions, which I think everyone agreed because we found who we needed so it worked out.
After the callbacks, Hank and Bernie took a long time, and we went through a lot of discussions on how it would go. The four girls that we chose, I wanted those four, so I felt really good about it and I was kind of just waiting for them to go through the process of figuring out how they felt.
There was actually talk about being nervous about casting them as redheads, because we didn’t want people to think that it was an homage to Felicia Day, basically. But you have to go with first, the girls who look like each other – they have to look like they’re going to be sisters, and so the lynchpin was Mary Kate. We knew we wanted to go with Mary Kate, we did know that with Mary Kate we could get away with, if we wanted to go the brunette or blonde route, we could say that Mary Kate dyed her hair red – because she actually does. But at the end of the day, Ashley was just perfect. That was how it went. And hey, if people think it’s an homage to Felicia Day, that’s fine, I love Felicia Day, we all do.
There are worse people.
If that is what people think, that’s fine.