In an industry that glorifies directors and movie stars, your average movie-goer may not understand how many people are involved in the making of a film. There are a huge number of factors that help shape how good a movie ultimately turns out to be. Casting is high up on that list. Carla Hool is one of those gifted individuals responsible for finding the right talent needed to make a script really come to life. Carla cast Demian Bichir in A BETTER LIFE. The film went on to earn Bichir an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Everything she touches turns to gold. Just watch:
Ladies and Gentleman, meet Casting Director Carla Hool.
Where are you from originally and how did you get your career?
I was born in Mexico City. My family has been in the film industry for several generations, so I grew up in the business. I started my career working on a few films with my father and uncle who now own and operate Santa Fe Studios. I started my own casting company in Mexico City and with a lot of hard work became one of the biggest casting directors there and after five years I moved to Los Angeles.
Being born into show business, did you feel pressure to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?
When I was a teenager people asked me quite a bit if I wanted to maybe become an actress. I was never interested in that but casting was something that was appealing to me so I went for it!
What are the advantages of having family involved in the film industry?
The advantage of having family in the industry is that I can always go to them for advice when I need it. They have been in the industry for many more years and have a lot more experience than me, so in many ways they are like mentors. My dad and my uncle have regularly been my advisors, especially when I was getting started.
For someone interested in pursuing a career as a Casting Director, how would you suggest he or she get started?
I would suggest that they find a Casting Director whose work they admire and reach out to him/her for an internship. Internships are a great way to get experience while proving to the casting director that you are serious about a career.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
In casting I have to work with every kind of personality. I work very closely with producers, directors, actors, agents and managers. I would say the most challenging part of my job is keeping everyone happy.
What aspect of being a casting director brings you joy/satisfaction?
Working with actors and being able to bring to life those characters that are on paper. I particularly love when an unknown actor nails an audition and lands the job. That feels amazing!
In 2010, you worked on EAST BOUND AND DOWN. I think EAST BOUND does a terrific job of blending super star talent with lesser known but equally amazing actors (like Steve Little and Elizabeth De Razzo!). The world always feels real. What was your experience like working on that show?
It was a great experience, I enjoyed working with Danny McBride and Jody Hill, they are an awesome team. We had a lot of laughs on this show! It was great being able to cast as you say, lesser known actors only for their talent and not for their name. It is always very exciting to find new talent and see them grow in their career.
Is there one piece of advice you’d give to actors as far as auditioning goes? Is there something you see over and over again that prevents actors from getting cast?
I think that what prevents actors to do a great audition is their minds. My advice to actors when I see them nervous is to relax and remember they have nothing to lose and everything to win. They don’t have the role, so they can’t lose it, they can only win.
I heard the key to giving a killer audition, is to “make the character your own.” For comedies, is it generally acceptable to improvise? Is that a question an actor should ask before he/she reads?
My advice would be to ask the casting director before they audition. There are projects where there is no problem with improvising and others where producers and the director want actors to stay by the book.
Can you talk about any projects you are currently working on or were recently completed?
Bless Me Ultima was a film I very much enjoyed working on. Carl Franklin is an amazing person and a true actor’s director. Working with him and Jessie, has been one of the best experiences I have had. After working with them I have had several other projects, like Despicable Me 2, Little Boy and a couple of international outreach projects for ABC, among others.
I’m sure there are actors who audition great but later perform below expectation, and other cases where people audition poorly but always deliver on set. Have you ever fought for a particular actor you believed in that didn’t have a particularly impressive audition?
That is very true! And yes, I have fought for actors I believe should get the part. When I truly believe in an actor – I will always voice my opinion to the team.
No difference at all for me. Both films are probably on my top five favorite projects I’ve worked on. I was passionate about both even though they each had their unique challenges. Again, they both gave me the possibility to discover new talent.