How to Get Cast on ‘The Righteous Gemstones’

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Photo Source: Jake Giles Netter/HBO

For the titular family members of “The Righteous Gemstones,” practicing what they preach is not exactly par for the course, as serving God and serving themselves go hand-in-hand on this HBO comedy. But as the brainchild of funnyman Danny McBride, these so-called scam artists are also seemingly sincere and sweet—creating the perfect blend of empathy and entertainment.

Dreaming of landing a role on this hit show? In this guide, we’ll explore what “The Righteous Gemstones” casting directors look for in the audition room and share top-notch advice from the dark comedy’s biggest stars.

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What is “The Righteous Gemstones” about?

The series follows a family of televangelists and megachurch pastors, led by widower Dr. Eli Gemstone (John Goodman), who live decadent lives thanks to the generous donations of their congregation members. The comedy spotlights the Gemstone children—Jesse (McBride), Judy (Edi Patterson), and Kelvin (Adam Devine)—and explores how their worry-free upbringing did not prepare them to step into their father’s shoes. As Eli prepares to step back from his duties, his eldest son, Jesse, grapples with his own sins as he aspires to become church leader; middle child Judy longs to escape her family’s grasp; and Kelvin, the youngest, tries to appeal to the church’s youth demographic with his quasi-hipster approach to spreading God’s good word. The question is, can the kids keep the family empire alive?

Who is in the cast of “The Righteous Gemstones”?

The series boasts an all-star cast, featuring:

  • John Goodman as Dr. Eli Gemstone
  • Danny McBride as Jesse Gemstone
  • Adam Devine as Kelvin Gemstone
  • Edi Patterson as Judy Gemstone
  • Cassidy Freeman as Amber Gemstone
  • Gregory Alan Williams as Martin Imari
  • Tim Baltz as BJ
  • Tony Cavalero as Keefe Chambers 
  • Skyler Gisondo as Gideon Gemstone
  • Gavin Munn as Abraham Gemstone
  • Kelton DuMont as Pontius Gemstone
  • Jennifer Nettles as Aimee-Leigh Gemstone
  • Walton Goggins as Baby Billy Freeman
  • Valyn Hall as Tiffany Freeman
  • Jody Hill as Levi
  • Troy Anthony Hogan as Matthew
  • J. LaRose as Gregory
  • James DuMont as Chad
  • Mary Hollis Inboden as Mandy
  • Jennifer Hazelip as Pam
  • Crystal Coney as Angie
  • Eric Roberts as Junior Marsh
  • Kristen Johnson as May-May Montgomery
  • Luke Haas as Chuck Montgomery
  • Steve Zahn as Peter Montgomery
  • Robert Oberst as Karl Montgomery

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Who is the casting director for “The Righteous Gemstones”?

Sharon Bialy and Sherry Thomas of Bialy/Thomas & Associates (“Breaking Bad,” “The Handmaid’s Tale”) are the primary casting directors behind the show—but this isn’t the first time they’ve collaborated with McBride. They also helped cast his 2016 HBO comedy, “Vice Principals.”

As the duo have noted, they seek actors who can connect with the given character. “If you’re a good actor, you can most likely ‘act something.’ But the beauty is when you don’t see that happening at all, when it truly is the soul of the actor [meeting] the soul of the character, and there’s very little in between that takes you out of what they’re doing,” Thomas told us. “That’s what you look for; that’s the dream.”

Bialy said, “[An actor’s] talent, their commitment, and their ability to dive into the role without their ego” make them stand out during the audition process. “We’re all in this because we love to tell stories, so what makes me remember an actor is an actor who went in to tell the story, not the actor who is in there because of the ego. A lot of times, actors are told, ‘This is your time in the room,’ and that’s not my feeling,” she added. “It’s not their time; it’s the time for the story. It’s their time to bring the story to life. It’s not all about them.”

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How does the casting process work for “The Righteous Gemstones”?

Thomas told Below the Line that few people realize what casting directors do on a daily basis. What’s the reality? Well, they direct. “It’s in our title. There just isn’t a lot of respect for it, if I’m being honest. There isn’t a lot of real knowledge of what our job encompasses, because, I mean, there’s some production involved in it,” she shared. “You’re managing schedules, and you’re managing money where we save money for productions. You are talking to every department on the show. You’re talking to wardrobe and writers; it’s all communication. You’re talking to studios and networks, which is sometimes a different conversation. You have to navigate those roles because they are different.”

It’s clear that there are numerous factors being considered during any given audition, but Thomas offered insight into what she wants to see in the room. “I think that if people can come in and be open and let their egos be put aside for a little bit, I love the trust. I love the creativity. I love what I learned from them about a scene and their take on it, and I’m leaning in; I’m engaged,” she explained. “They teach me something about a piece of the scene or the character as a whole. There’s an interaction. I think actors sometimes need to be nurtured, and I like nurturing people. They have to be vulnerable. They have to feel that they’re in a safe space, and I know that our office has always provided that for actors.”

Of course, if you’re like Devine, your existing body of work may be enough to land you a prime role on a hit comedy such as “The Righteous Gemstones.” As he told the Hollywood Reporter, McBride sought him out to play “man-child” Kelvin.

“[Danny] kinda knew what I do and was confident that I would be good in the role. And he asked me to meet with him and [executive producer] David Gordon Green and some of the other writers on the show,” Devine said. “And I went to Charleston and met with them and just had a nice dinner, and I figured they would also give me the role at the end of the dinner ’cause it went so great—and then they didn’t. I kinda think that Danny forgot to tell me that he wanted me to do the show.

“And so my agents called me after dinner and asked, ‘How was it? Did you get the show?’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t know. It seemed like I did, but they didn’t tell me?’ And then the next day, they made me an offer. I think Danny was just like, ‘Oh, I thought I made it clear.' But I’m pretty thick,” he continued. “You really have to spell it out for me.”

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When does filming for “The Righteous Gemstones” Season 4 start?

HBO confirmed the show’s Season 4 renewal ahead of its Season 3 finale. However, like many TV shows, the SAG-AFTRA strike caused production delays. Devine took to social media once the strike had ended to assure fans that he and his costars were “gearing up” to film Season 4. As of now, no further developments have been shared about the upcoming season.

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Where can you find “The Righteous Gemstones” casting calls and auditions?

While there aren’t any active casting calls for “The Righteous Gemstones,” Backstage has featured a number of listings for the HBO comedy in recent years. From church staff to club ravers to 1960s men, there have been a number of available openings for background work. Please note that the show films in Charleston, South Carolina.

In the meantime, browse our roundup of HBO and streaming gigs that are casting now, and check out our guide on how to audition for Max, HBO’s streaming service. Also, don’t forget to bookmark our main casting page while you’re here, too!

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What are the best audition tips for landing a role on “The Righteous Gemstones”?

Don’t shrink yourself to accommodate others. While many might think of Jennifer Nettles as a country singer, the Sugarland songster worked hard to branch out from her musical roots to play Gemstone matriarch Aimee-Leigh.

“If you want to be multihyphenate, be prepared to fight for your art and your heart. People will want to keep you in one place; they will want you to stay in your lane…. Fight for your art, and help those people along that may only see you a certain way. Some people will do so much to do as little as possible; they will do everything in the world to avoid change and stay small. Sometimes they want you to stay small,” Nettles told us. “Don’t stay small. When we’re dying, we will not look back and say, ‘Ugh, I wish I had stayed a little smaller.’ Everyone will say, ‘I wish I had expanded bigger.’ So fight as hard as you can in the moment for it.”

Make a fool of yourself. Goodman has established an impressive career, ranging from comedy to drama and everything in between. While he shared some advice with us on how to get the most out of a rehearsal, this piece of wisdom also has its place in the audition room, as bold moves can often be the best moves for your career. Don’t be afraid to “make a fool of yourself,” he said. It is in such moments that you can unlock true genius.

As Goodman explained, “listening” and “keeping your ears open” are critical skills to have as an actor, including in the audition room. “Try anything. Throw it up against the wall. Have that desperation to make it right,” Goodman shared. “I usually know I’m going to make a total ass of myself, but I jump off. Jump right into it.” 

Work hard—even in the face of rejection. As CDs Bialy and Thomas have learned during their collective decades in the business, success requires talent and commitment. Thomas explained, “Being an actor isn’t about being famous,” and someone who’s truly dedicated to the art form could be “happy acting on a community theater level.” So, check your ego at the door—they only want to meet professionals who are willing to put in the work.

“We look at people as professionals, and if you keep working hard, the cream rises to the top,” added Bialy. “It’s not how you are when you’re successful; it’s how you are when you take rejection. As actors know, you can come in and do an amazing audition, and for various reasons, you won’t get the job. [You just have to] keep going and believe in yourself, and eventually it will happen.”

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