How to Get Cast on a Series Like ‘All the Light We Cannot See’

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Photo Source: Timea Saghy/Netflix

From “Game of Thrones” to “Bridgerton,” book adaptations are an in-demand trend in the TV and film industry. Not only do these adaptations bring fan-favorite stories to life, but they can also garner critical acclaim. For instance, the “Game of Thrones” franchise continues to receive Emmy nominations, thanks to its “House of the Dragon” prequel series. 

Now there’s a new adaptation that’s getting attention. The historical, Pulitzer Prize–winning novel “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr is joining the ever-growing book-to-screen list. The four-part limited series, created by Shawn Levy (“Stranger Things,” “Shadow and Bone”) and Steven Knight (“Peaky Blinders,” “Great Expectations”), is coming to Netflix on Nov. 2.

Wondering how a historical fiction novel gets adapted and, more specifically, cast? In this guide, we’ll explore all that went into casting one of the story’s leads, including top-notch audition advice from the Netflix series’ cast and crew.


What is “All the Light We Cannot See” about?

Set against the backdrop of World War II, Doerr’s novel follows Marie-Laure and her father, Daniel, who works at the Museum of Natural History in Paris. At age 6, Marie-Laure loses her sight, and at age 12, she loses her home as the Nazis come to occupy France, leaving the father-daughter duo no option but to flee. They find themselves living with Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle in Saint-Malo, where her father brings the museum’s most valuable diamond in an effort to keep it safe from the Nazis. We also meet Werner, an orphan living with his younger sister, Jutta, in a German mining town. His interest in radio earns him a spot among the Hitler Youth, but he soon recognizes the toll his involvement has on human life. He eventually finds himself in Saint-Malo, where he meets and falls for Marie-Laure—sparking a love that cannot be in a world filled with hate and death.

Who is in the cast of “All the Light We Cannot See”?

From newcomers to up-and-comers (and a couple of industry veterans, too), here’s the cast of this limited series adaptation:

  • Aria Mia Loberti as Marie-Laure LeBlanc
  • Nell Sutton as Young Marie-Laure
  • Louis Hofmann as Werner Pfennig
  • Lucas Herzog as Young Werner
  • Lars Eidinger as Sergeant Major Reinhold von Rumpel
  • Mark Ruffalo as Daniel LeBlanc
  • Hugh Laurie as Etienne LeBlanc
  • Marion Bailey as Madame Manec
  • James Dryden as Monsieur Caron
  • Luna Wedler as Jutta Pfennig
  • Corin Silva as Frank Volkheimer
  • Andrea Deck as Sandrina
  • Rosie Hilal as Frau Elena
  • Richard Sammel as Dr. Hauptmann
  • Pascal Ulli as Dr. Heinrich

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Who is the casting director for “All the Light We Cannot See”?

Lucy Bevan (“Barbie,” “The Batman”) and Emily Brockmann (“Cruella,” “Anatomy of a Scandal”) of Lucy Bevan Casting are the CDs for Netflix’s four-episode adaptation of “All the Light We Cannot See.” Having cast a number of successful films, both Bevan and Brockmann know what to look for in the audition room. 

As Brockmann told us, “I’m a sucker for really talented actors. Obviously, the term ‘talented’ is massively subjective, but what I particularly gravitate towards is an open mind and a kind of dexterity and lightness of touch. It’s being well-prepared and knowing the lines, knowing the context, but also being light on your feet. I’m in awe of actors who can make really quick adjustments and completely change how they’ve prepared the character. It’s really exciting when that happens. It’s kind of electric. It’s probably one of the best parts of the job.”

All the Light We Cannot See

How did the casting process work for “All the Light We Cannot See”?

For the Netflix adaptation, casting the role of Marie-Laure was top priority, as the creative team wanted to support the industry’s effort to improve inclusivity. In Doerr’s story, Marie-Laure loses her sight, and Levy specifically sought a young actress who was blind or had low vision.

Aria Mia Loberti, who ultimately landed the series’ lead, told Cosmopolitan, “When I saw the casting search, I was really struck by it, because blind roles are never played by individuals who have that lived experience.”

After getting the part, she explained it was important to have the character “be an authentic portrayal of a young girl growing up to become a young [woman] who is blind.” She added, “Everyone embraced me as someone who wants to create something that’s powerful and special and meaningful.” 

As Levy told Tudum, “To have Marie-Laure played by someone who understands what it’s like to walk that road—that’s valuable detail and nuance that impacts and informs every frame of this series.” But finding this “unicorn of a discovery,” as Levy called Loberti, almost never happened. Loberti never dreamed about becoming an actor; but when she learned of Levy’s casting call, she submitted her first-ever self-tape.

“Aria is someone who understands this character in her soul,” Levy also told Tudum. “She’s never auditioned, she’s never thought about being an actress, and she got the part.”

Levy also found that 7-year-old Nell Sutton, who he cast first as young Marie-Laure and who is legally blind, helped guide his vision for the series due to her lived experience. He recalled telling Sutton, “ ‘Because I met you, I was sure I needed the older actress to play Marie to also be someone who has lived life with the real experience of being blind. So I’m really grateful to you because you were the person that really showed me how special this project could be.’ ”

All the Light We Cannot See

Where can you find casting calls for similar series?

In an industry that continues to work toward advancing inclusivity and representation, it’s important to note that the creatives behind this adaptation specifically sought out an actress who is blind or has low vision to portray the series’ protagonist. These casting calls were issued through the American Council of the Blind, Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation, and, of course, Backstage.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep casting resources, (specifically our guide to auditioning for Netflix) bookmarked for future opportunities. For those who are interested in auditioning for a historical drama down the road, you may want to check out our guide on how to act in a period piece.

All the Light We Cannot See

What are the best audition tips for landing a role on a Netflix limited series?

Believe that others want you to succeed: Although the audition room might seem daunting, know that the CDs are truly rooting for you. As Brockmann told us, casting wants to see you shine.

“The main thing I want actors to know is: We’re on your side. I know that potentially sounds trite, but it’s true,” she said. “In the most crass way of thinking about it, if an actor does well, we look good, so we’re always willing an actor to do their best. We’re not there to catch you out.”

Brockmann added, “The other thing is, you’re not just auditioning or taping for the part that we’ve given you. If, for whatever reason, you’re not right for that part, we will absolutely think of you for something else. So even if an actor doesn’t think they’re right for a project, it’s still worth sending a tape because we’ve always got lots of other parts in our head we’d love to consider you for.”

Let the haters fuel your fire: For Ruffalo (Daniel LeBlanc), an Oscar-nominated actor, auditioning wasn’t easy at first—especially after one individual blatantly told him he didn’t have what it takes. “I was afraid and had so little confidence,” he told Variety. “I did a few play auditions, but my first real audition was after high school for SUNY Purchase. After my audition, the head of the department said, ‘What are you going to do when you realize you’ll never make it as an actor?’ ”

But Ruffalo didn’t allow those words to derail his career aspirations—and neither should you. 

He advised, “Say to that little part of yourself, ‘Listen, you son of a bitch. I know you’re there, but you don’t control me. I want to live my dreams and I’m going to make one step towards them. And the road will meet me there.’ ”

Get to know your audience—and yourself: Whether you’re on a stage or in an audition room, acting is not one-sided; it’s transactional. Even when you’re acting for the screen, you must remain aware of those who will one day view your work. That’s why, as Eidinger (Reinhold von Rumpel) told the Guardian, you must be as present as possible in any given moment. 

“People think acting is all about dazzling the audience and disguising yourself: lying, basically. In fact, the opposite is true,” he shared. “I try to be as present as possible when I’m acting. I don’t try to use the role as a mask I hide behind, but as a vehicle for expressing myself.”

By seeing yourself reflected in your audience, Eidinger told Pyragraph, you begin to better understand who you are. He also noted that by keeping an open mind, you might come to create something you never anticipated. 

“There’s a very nice quote from [German actress] Helene Weigel: ‘If you have an idea, forget it,’ ” Eidinger told the New York Times. “I believe in the genius of creation out of the moment. You invent something out of an impulse because you are open-minded, but you are not aware how meaningful it is.”