If you are thankful to actors, actresses, and film directors for a sensational blockbuster movie, you should be equally grateful to the film’s casting directors. The result would have been different had they chosen another actor for certain roles. They may seem tough during auditions—inquisitive, callous, and meticulous—but that’s how they know who has a born talent for the job. That’s what makes them great too!
Unsung heroes—that’s what casting directors are. Always behind the curtains of every act, observing behind the camera. The responsibilities of a casting director include going through the script detail by detail to know what the production needs. On top of that, they endure the tiresome task of listing names, interviewing strangers, and scanning portfolios just to pick the right person for the job.
It takes skills and patience to be a good casting director. And in the quest to gathering the best for a film, some have failed, while others managed to stand out.
5 Best Casting Directors in the Entertainment Industry
Their roles aren’t simple, so they deserve to be recognized. Hence, here’s a list of the best casting directors who have proven their abilities in the industry.
1. Ellen Lewis
The eight-year apprenticeship she had with Juliet Taylor, a veteran casting director, only made Ellen Lewis a force to be reckoned with. Thanks to her, Forrest Gump (1994) has become a timeless film. The skillful cast still makes anyone jerk in tears, even after 25 years since the movie’s release.
Ellen Lewis is also known for the films The Departed (2006), 13 Going on 30 (2004), and A League of Their Own (1992). Because of her dedication to the craft, she had already received two Primetime Emmys, first in 2004 and second in 2011.
2. Sarah Finn
Next on this list of best casting directors is Sarah Halley Finn, who’s best known for Black Panther, one of 2018’s biggest films. No wonder she received the Best Ensemble Cast Award from the Alliance of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ).
Sarah Finn is the goddess of the Marvel universe, so to speak. From The Avengers series down to the installments of every hero film such as Iron Man, Captain America, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, and Thor, Finn was able to find the right actor for each role.
Finn is also a recipient of other major awards including Outstanding Achievement in Casting from the Casting Society of America and Best Ensemble from the Black Reel Awards.
3. Mark Summers
An actor-turned-director, Mark Summers worked as a personality in the entertainment business for over ten years. Now he manages his own casting agency called Mark Summers Casting Directors & Management.
What made Summers stand out amid the strong competition is his versatility. He handles casting calls for music videos, dances, musicals, commercials, television, and fashion, besides film casting. So it’s not a surprise that he received multiple awards from famous productions since he switched careers. Those awards include BAFTA, Emmy, The Lions, MTV, The British Arrows, and Tribeca, among others.
Are you familiar with Queer Eye and The Hydra Executives? Mark is one of the men behind those series’ success. Apart from that, he has been the regular casting director for the shows of singer-songwriter Madonna.
4. Ellen Chenoweth
Another one of the best casting directors today is Ellen Chenoweth, who has more than 30 years of experience. Since she started as a casting director, Chenoweth already received three awards from Film Independent Spirit Awards and Casting Society of America, USA. On top of that, she has been nominated 28 times for an Emmy, AWFJ, and Online Film & Television Association award.
She worked as the casting director for No Country for Old Men (2007), Michael Clayton (2007), and A Serious Man (2009). Other notable credits include Men in Black 3 (2012), Meet the Parents (2000), The Bourne Legacy (2012), and Analyze That (2002).
5. Avy Kaufman
Last on the list but definitely not the least is Avy Kaufman, a casting director based in New York City. With 32 nominations in addition to six casting awards, few of her credited works will surely ring some bells.
The controversial drama about the love affair between two men Brokeback Mountain was a box-office hit in 2005. And that’s partly thanks to Kaufman who handpicked the award-winning actors Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Anne Hathaway, and Michelle Williams—who all ultimately contributed to the film’s success.
Few more films she gained credits for are Gotti (1996), Color of Justice (1997), and Dinner with Friends (2001). Besides those, the psychological thriller The Sixth Sense (1999), science fiction Prometheus (2012), and crime drama Public Enemies (2009) also tapped Kaufman for the casting.