What drew you to this story?
Initially, it was two casting directors coming to me, and saying, maybe there’s a documentary here. But it was Marion Doherty—who I’d never heard of—who they explained was this great casting legend, and could I at least put her on tape. Because she’s in her mid-80s, and nobody’s ever told her story, and it would be great just to capture her. And as I did that interview it opened a window to me, of what an incredible story it is - the story of casting in Hollywood. I knew it was more than just about Marion. It was about her profession.
You reveal how Marion shook things up by casting from her gut, and how the actors she brought to these films, like Al Pacino, were not cut from the same old Hollywood cloth.
Marion is an amazing example of somebody who comes from outside the system, and therefore, has a whole new way of looking at things, because they’ve not bought into the old way. She had no idea what she was doing. [CHUCKLES] She was just told, you need to find actors for this TV show. And she was like, oh my God, where do I find these actors? And she started going to the theatre, which she had been doing anyway. She always had this inherent sympathy and understanding of actors. And on top of that, she had the golden intuition. So she was able to see through the crap, and see what that person was about.
And yet as important as they are to the creative process, the casting director’s role is overlooked in the industry. To this day there is no Oscar category for casting director.
I think that’s because it’s hard to define it as a craft. People don’t see it, the way you can costumes or a set. It’s so meshed in the experience of experiencing a movie that it’s hard to believe that they’ve made a creative contribution. The audience creates such an emotional bond with the actor. And then of course, the director gets all the accolades. And they’re not going to admit that it wasn’t really their idea, but the casting director’s idea. They want it to be their idea.