What’s the best part of my job? That’s easy: telling actors they got the role. Some agents and managers are generous enough to include me when sharing the news with their clients. It’s beyond exciting. All our hard work paid off and I end up jumping up and down with them from my office.
On the film “Vampire Academy,” our producer Deepak Nayar came up with a unique and classy way of telling Zoey Deutch and Lucy Fry that we’d chosen them to play our leads. After a lengthy testing process of auditions, callbacks, and, ultimately, chemistry screen tests with different pairings of female actors, he asked me to invite the two to a meeting at a restaurant with the pretense they had one more hoop to jump through. The creative team had already signed off on the casting, but we wanted to be a part of delivering the news. I told their agents that we needed one more meeting with them and all the filmmakers. Their agents and managers were extremely leery of letting their clients go on yet another meeting when they had already tested: “Haven’t they done enough? What more do you want?” I asked them all to trust me. Our long-standing relationships came into play.
I arrived at the restaurant to find our writer, executive producer, director, and Deepak. He had instructed me not to tell anyone at the table that the girls would be joining us. Frankly, they were quite surprised when the actors showed up to our celebratory lunch. First Zoey arrived, and our director inadvertently leaked that we were celebrating their casting.
Then Lucy joined the luncheon and still had no idea why she was there. Deepak finally got to deliver the good news and she was, as expected, quite stunned. Luckily we managed to capture both their reactions on film, which you can watch on my YouTube channel. It still gives me the chills to watch these videos.
It’s so thrilling to find the right actor for the role, work with her on it, shepherd her through the process, and then finally get all the filmmakers and the studio executives to agree. Telling actors they’ve got the role is the icing on the cake.
It’s lovely when actors acknowledge our hard work and send a thank-you. I’ve received everything from a phone call expressing gratitude to milk and cookies from Carla Gugino—plus some more extreme gifts. After casting Kelly Preston in four movies (on one of them she met her husband, John Travolta), I jokingly said, “Jeez, Kelly. After all of this I think you owe me a houseboat at the very least!” The next day, her assistant arrived at my office with a very large box. I opened it to find Barbie’s Dream Home Houseboat. Hilarious!
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Known for her work in film and television, producer and casting director Marci Liroff has worked with some of the most successful directors in the world such as Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Mark Waters, Christopher Nolan, Brad Bird, and Herbert Ross. While working at Fenton-Feinberg Casting, she, along with Mike Fenton, cast such films as “A Christmas Story," “Poltergeist," “E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial," “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," and “Blade Runner." After establishing her own casting company in 1983, Liroff cast “Footloose," “St. Elmo's Fire," “Pretty in Pink," “The Iron Giant," “The Spitfire Grill," “Untamed Heart," “Freaky Friday," “Mean Girls," “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past," “Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” “Vampire Academy,” and the upcoming “The Sublime and Beautiful,” which she produced as well.
Liroff is also an acting coach, and her three-night Audition Bootcamp has empowered actors to view the audition process in a new light. The class spawned an online course available at Udemy entitled "How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp".
Photo by Doug Hac.