Meet the Casting Directors Behind 2023's Top Films

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Photo Source: Parrish Lewis/Netflix/Ed Araquel/Lionsgate/Melina Sue Gordon/Apple TV+

Rich Delia, “Joy Ride”

This CD’s strong instincts helped him bring together the amazing ensemble of Adele Lim’s road-trip comedy. He says that it’s all about understanding the role you’re auditioning for. 

“When an actor comes in and shows us their perception of the character, they have an opportunity to make an impression because they are making strong choices,” he says. “Those choices are coming from within them. They’re not saying, I think this is what the CD or director wants. It’s how they see the character; it’s not making a different choice just for the sake of being different. But you can walk out of that room saying you were that character for five minutes, and you did it exactly how you see it. If they like it, great; and if not, at least you were in control and did what you wanted to do.”

2023 CDsKim Coleman, “They Cloned Tyrone”

The CD who cast John Boyega, Jamie Foxx, and Teyonah Parris in Juel Taylor’s sci-fi comedy says that actors should consistently work on developing their craft. 

“Be prepared for your opportunity before it comes,” she advises. “Audition for projects big or small, and focus on performance and training. Become so good that your talent is undeniable. And when the opportunity presents itself for you to audition or be reviewed, give us no choice but to say, ‘This person has something special; let’s see where they fit.’ ”

Ellen Lewis, “Killers of the Flower Moon” 

Lewis has been Martin Scorsese’s go-to CD for more than 30 years; so it’s no wonder she advocates building enduring relationships in the industry. 

“I think it’s important for actors to create within a community,” she says. “It’s hard, but...there are showcases; and obviously, people read Backstage and go in for things. Another thing I would say to actors is: You don’t have to be in New York or Los Angeles. Every community—and certainly every city, I think of almost any size—has some kind of theater going on, whether it be through a church or community theater. I think you can be in other places. I’m from Chicago, [which has] one of the most thriving theater communities in our country.”

2023 CDsJohn Papsidera, “Oppenheimer” 

Christopher Nolan’s longtime CD says that while there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to casting, being sure of yourself is the “common denominator” among successful actors. 

“Not to compare everything to the Nolan world, but when we’re making decisions on ‘Interstellar’ or ‘Dunkirk,’ it’s basically Chris and myself and Emma Thomas, his producing partner and wife,” Papsidera says. “We’ll make decisions on who we want, and that’s that. It’s so subjective how I go about doing each one of those projects; it’s so specific to each project you do. [But] if I could give anything to every actor that walked [into] a room, it would be confidence. It’s something that stands out and is unique and attractive to other people. Directors also want to trust that this person can do what they need them to do, and that
comes back to confidence.”

Lisa Lobel, “The Holdovers” local casting 

While Susan Shopmaker handled the main casting of stars like Paul Giamatti and Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Lobel found local talent for Alexander Payne’s boarding-school drama. She advises actors to avoid taking it personally when they don’t land a part. 

“If you don’t get a role or callback, it’s most likely not because of anything you did wrong,” she says. “When we start casting, it’s the very, very beginning. Oftentimes, directors, producers, writers—they’re not even sure what direction these characters are going to go [in]; so you’re part of that process. If we asked you to audition, it’s because we know that you can do it and that you’re good enough.”

 Illustrations by Brian Taylor