Woody Allen has penned a rare open letter to Hollywood, via the Hollywood Reporter, wherein he supports his longtime colleague and casting director Juliet Taylor, with whom he worked on “Blue Jasmine.” Read below.
The letter is timely, as Tom Donahue’s documentary “Casting By” hits theaters in New York November 1, and Los Angeles November 8. The film makes a plea for the Academy to fully recognize casting directors, as it does other filmmaking professions that have Oscar categories. Earlier this year the Academy created a Casting Directors Branch, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that a Casting Oscar is on the near horizon.
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.