Casting directors invest so much of their heart and soul in the pursuit of finding the best-fitting talent for the projects that come their way. They’re keen observers and love to work with people—lots of people for that matter. Although they might seem a bit intimidating to actors when the pressure is on in the audition room, casting directors are actually very much routing for each actor who comes their way. Here are quotes from seven celebrated casting directors discussing what they truly love about their line of work.


Tara Rubin (Dear Evan Hansen, School of Rock the musical)

“What we’re after is you. What we’re after is a little bit strange, a little bit perfect, a little bit imperfect—whatever it is, that’s what interests us. The details of your character and your personality are what are going to fill in the character on page, so we love to see what that is.”


Stephanie Holbrook (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Mrs. Doubtfire, Malcolm in the Middle)

“I love an actor who comes in having made a strong choice, having prepared, familiar with the material, really comfortable in the role—not because they don’t get nervous for auditions but simply because they’ve done their homework. They’ve sort of figured out what’s going on in the scene, what are the relationships, who is this character? … There’s something really interesting and compelling about an audition that’s just spontaneous and in the moment.”


Carmen Cuba (Stranger Things, The Chi, Devs, Vida)

“I go to the theater, and I almost always end up casting someone I’ve seen within six months. I have friends who know my taste who send me names of actors they’ve seen in obscure things, and I keep track of them. And I watch film and television and weird stuff online and track people down on my own. I also have my own favorite directors and casting directors whose work I love, and I am not ashamed to admit that I am often tracking down actors they’ve used in their projects as well! I don’t watch anything in my ‘free time’ that doesn’t interest me. Because I’m watching stuff I actually love, I often end up falling in love with the actors in these projects.”


Nina Gold (Game of Thrones, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens)

“I love discovering unknown actors. It’s very exciting, although it can be risky. You can’t predict if the person you think is going to be great really will be. But doesn’t it get boring if you always play it safe and use the same old names? Personally, I’m not interested in casting the most perfectly beautiful woman or someone who ticks all the boxes of what a person is ‘supposed’ to look like. I’m much more interested in character before beauty and an interesting charisma that’s not based on looks. More often than not, the risk pays off. I have to say, it’s a pretty good feeling to go to the cinema and watch a film that I’ve cast. I cry a lot!”


Jennifer Euston (Girls, Orange Is the New Black)

“The whole ‘Orange’ cast is amazing because these are character women, these are minorities, these are older women that never got these opportunities to have an arc ever on a TV show, and they’d play like Nurse #1 in ‘Law & Order.’ Now they have 13 episodes to develop a story, and it is so moving for me because they’re women we’ve been bringing in for years and years and years.”


Sharon Bialy of Bialy/Thomas & Associates (The Walking Dead, The Handmaid’s Tale, Dead to Me, Breaking Bad)

“We’re all in this because we love to tell stories, so what makes me remember an actor is an actor who went in to tell the story—not the actor who is in there because of the ego. A lot more times, actors are told, ‘This is your time in the room,’ and that’s not my feeling. It’s not their time; it’s the time for the story. It’s their time to bring the story to life. It’s not all about them.”


Juliet Taylor (Mississippi Burning, Sleepless in Seattle)

“One of the thrills is being able to use someone who’s never been seen before in an original way—it’s one of the perks of the job.”