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CD Mark Saks Talks About 'Person of Interest'

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CD Mark Saks Talks About 'Person of Interest'
Photo Source: CBS
Casting director Mark Saks of Mark Saks Casting describes "Person of Interest" as " 'The Equalizer' with a 'Big Brother' element" and adds that it was the highest-testing pilot for CBS in 15 years. Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson star in the crime thriller about a presumed-dead former CIA agent who forms a partnership with a mysterious billionaire to prevent violent crimes in the streets of New York. They are new-style vigilantes with access to state-of-the-art surveillance technology and almost limitless wealth. Not surprisingly, they manage to antagonize the NYPD, especially homicide detectives Carter (Taraji P. Henson) and Fusco (Kevin Chapman).

"It's a show with volume, and we will be populating three to four worlds," says Saks. "There will be lots of recurring roles." It is also a New York–based show, and the actors will reflect a spectrum—ethnically, culturally, socioeconomically, and agewise. Actors with that Gotham edge may well find a home on the drama. "This is more of a character show than a leading man and woman show," Saks points out. To date, no special skills have been required of actors, though down the road an actor fluent in a foreign language may be needed.

Most actors cast on the show are, and will be, coming through agents. But Saks doesn't have a closed-door policy, he says, though that's not an invitation to send headshots and résumés. He doesn't bring in actors on the basis of generic submissions. "I like a targeted approach," Saks says. "If someone writes to me to say, 'I'm in a play at Theatre Row; come see me' or 'Check me out this Thursday in an episode of "Law & Order: SVU" ' or 'I recently had a callback at whatever,' I might respond to that. But I do not respond to general queries."

For actors auditioning for Saks, preparation is the key. If the show has been on the air awhile, it's essential that the actor know its style, storylines, characters, and performers. If the sides include medical terminology or legal jargon, know the pronunciation, he says.

Make choices and dress appropriately for the audition. Don't come in costume and don't bring props, as Saks finds them distracting. If you're playing a nurse, you don't have to arrive in scrubs, but don't wear a business suit either. Saks doesn't object to questions if they're seeking information necessary for the scene. And he understands an actor being nervous and that anyone can have a bad day. If you have to stop in the middle and start again, that's fine.

Mark Saks Casting, Scott Free/RSA Films, 270 Lafayette St., Suite 200, New York, NY 10012.

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