Los Angeles; Halloween (2007), The Devil's Rejects, Pulse
You just bring in the best actors. And once you sort of love being in a horror film, there are always other horror films for you. It's a very supportive and tight-knit community, which certainly helps in the casting.
When auditioning for a horror film, if you could absolutely convey the terror of that scene, you're good to go. That's a huge stumbling block; many actors won't just let it out. If the actors can scream bloody murder, and I'm believing that their best friend is lying next to them and they are sobbing uncontrollably because they don't know what to do, that is good times. There is such a difference between someone self-consciously going, "Ooh!" and really screaming. I just want it to be genuine.
The job is to be completely terrified, or terrifying, or to enjoy being the hated one. For certain bad guys, they have to revel in thinking, 'I am just hated.' They have to have a certain oomph about them. They need to walk in and say, "I am 6-foot-8, and I am going to crush you with my pinkie," and enjoy that and know that that is a life choice this character has made. Or if they have a really charactery face that in the proper makeup can look terrifying, they should love that about themselves.
When trying to break into horror films, actors should never, ever pass up an opportunity. Every person you read for more than likely will be casting another one, will be writing another one, will be shooting another one.
Los Angeles; Wrong Turn 2, Day of the Dead, The Grudge 2
The actors have to be so convincingly real, and the audition process is more challenging because the situation in the script is so intense and extreme. In the audition, actors don't have the horror elements in front of them, so they have to create it with their imagination. If they don't believe what's happening, we're never going to believe it.
When trying to break into the industry, the most important thing is to understand that, when in the audition room, you can't wink at the casting director and say, "Oh, well, of course if I were on the set and the bad guy were in the room, I'd really go full out and scream loudly and really be terrified, or I'd really be crying." That doesn't get you the job. I want actors to go really out on the edge of their being, to the point where the casting director or anybody in the room has chills. The biggest danger is just holding back.
I think any choice made at the wrong time can hurt anyone's career, but if it's a good-quality team of people putting the film together, I don't think acting in a horror film can hurt. And I also think, for younger actors starting out, it's a great proving ground, because they have to go to the depths of their being. Once they do that, they can do anything dramatically.
Betty Mae Inc., Los Angeles; Grindhouse, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Pulse, The Glass House
Casting a horror movie is not so different from casting other movies. I think you almost have to have the best actors doing those roles, because they have to walk a thin line, and if they go over to the campy side too much, then the audience isn't with them. It's about finding people who are really good actors, actors that can find those places where it feels like they're coming from both a real place and a horror world.
Acting in horror films can only be good for your career, because a lot of people see them. Look at films like I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream: Look back at those movies and how the actors have grown and gotten careers from them.
If you really want to break into horror films, you have to watch a lot of them. It's pretty evident which ones are good ones and which ones are bad, and you realize that those kinds of performances are similar to the ways that you want to handle your audition.
New York writer-director; The Ocean, Satan's Playground, Horror, Desecration
Even though my budgets are going up, I'm still an independent filmmaker, so I haven't lost my grip on the casting process. I'll usually write up a small description, and it can be really specific or open-ended, depending on what I'm looking for. Then the casting notice has a life of its own, and sometimes it attracts someone I didn't even realize I was searching for.
I want a performer who is passionate, dependable, malleable, emotionally intelligent, imaginative, perfect for the part, and, depending on the role, able to withstand gore special effects. You haven't lived until you've been covered in corn syrup and peanut butter. Some actors are just too squeamish. Also prosthetics—many times a mold must be made of the actor's head. Often this means being submerged in a warm, pasty substance while breathing through straws coming out of your nostrils.
A doelike, off-kilter quality is also something that I like—someone who is truly different, yet we can relate to his or her faults and insecurities. The actor should glow.