Thoughts on the casting process so far and how it could be improved

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
Just a few thoughts:

The execs clearly have some ideas about characteristics and qualities of the people they want for certain (if not all) roles. A few times, they haven't expressed those ideas, and sometimes the Forum ideas and nominations don't match them.

So we need to come up with some new routines.

1. We will have to try to get the execs to express their ideas if they can.
2. We will have to find ways to filter our search for actors and actresses through those ideas. We can't allow nominations that collide with the execs' ideas, or the wrong people will be nomninated and votes will be thrown away (and we won't know what other people the voters would have voted for).

That's all for now. I'll return on the subject. Please add ideas!
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Those sound like good ideas; the execs don't post on here very much. I'd like to hear their opinions outside of the recordings.
 

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
To check which ideas the execs have seems to me to be the easier part. To deal with nominations that don't meet the criteria is an entirely different matter.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Another improvement I’ve thought about is what to do if an actor we’ve cast dies. What should we do?
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
The Execs are not going to post here on the forums. They will mostly confine their comments to the podcasts (though you can likely catch Corey Olsen in other venues, sharing Tolkien-related thoughts, with some overlap).

I do not feel the need to recast an actor who has died, but if the character appears in later seasons and someone would like to recast that particular actor/actress, we could do so. I think it's a case-by-case call.


I agree that 'disallowing' nominations that don't meet basic criteria involves some judgement calls and oversight that I'm not entirely sure we want to take on. Up until now, I have done most of the moderating of nominations, but that has simply consisted of preventing anyone from posting comments in nominations threads, or occasionally adding more data (such as links to imdb, age, or height) to a nomination that was lacking those details. I know that Haakon has also helped out with making sure there were not too many images posted in the nominations threads. I have NOT done any value judgement, and have allowed ANY nomination that met the basic criteria:
1) living actor
2) has an imdb page
3) not previously cast in this project

I think that, if we do have a 'casting sheet' that is Exec approved, we can have age and height restrictions, or special skills that a character must have (singing, dancing, fighting, etc). We can allow the Execs to make suggestions that aren't hard and fast rules, as well, and then see where the chips fall.

The easiest way to handle a nomination that does not meet the requirements on the casting sheet would be to then raise the point in the discussion forum, and, if need be, remove that nomination prior to voting. There have been several nominees that were *accidentally* left off the voting in prior seasons, but we've never excluded a nominee on purpose. I really hesitate to do that, but it could perhaps be grounds for discussion and someone voluntarily withdrawing a nominee if that person does not match the requirements in some way. Again, let's see if we can get the Execs to formalize their opinions prior to nominating and voting, and then go from there.
 

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
They sometimes have expressed such ideas but my impression is that they’re not sticking to those ideas to a particularly great degree.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
They sometimes have expressed such ideas but my impression is that they’re not sticking to those ideas to a particularly great degree.
For example, when I nominated Maisie Williams as Shelob, they seemed to think I was going for a more “sultry” angle for Shelob, which wasn’t what I had in mind. I was going for the creepy and dangerous side as shown in Game of Thrones, particularly in the most recent seasons. Even though the Execs are optimistic about casting her again, judging by the characters we have going forward, there will be very few roles that Maisie will be able to play based on height restrictions (she is 5’1”).
 

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
I agree, I can’t think of any roles that would demand her being cast. Or any roles that makes me think of her as an obvious nominee.

Maybe a Hobbit?
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
I agree, I can’t think of any roles that would demand her being cast. Or any roles that makes me think of her as an obvious nominee.

Maybe a Hobbit?
Like Lobelia Sackville-Baggins? She's the only female hobbit that I can think of who would be old enough to play any sort of role at this point in the Third Age.

The only role in the First Age I can think of for her is Haleth, since Morwen and Nienor are described as being tall while the Execs want taller actresses for Elves.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Like Lobelia Sackville-Baggins? She's the only female hobbit that I can think of who would be old enough to play any sort of role at this point in the Third Age.

The only role in the First Age I can think of for her is Haleth, since Morwen and Nienor are described as being tall while the Execs want taller actresses for Elves.
Lobelia certainly could be a part of the S04 frame if the hosts decide to go forward with having a Bilbo-centered frame, but I'm not sure if it isn't a waste, given how small a part it would likely be.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Lobelia certainly could be a part of the S04 frame if the hosts decide to go forward with having a Bilbo-centered frame, but I'm not sure if it isn't a waste, given how small a part it would likely be.
As I said, I know that the Hosts want to cast Williams at some point, but we’re running out of options.

Can you think of any?
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Given the dearth of female characters for us to cast, not especially, unless we wind up manufacturing some more down the line (which isn't completely unlikely).
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
I think we should definitely narrow down the casting process with casting sheets, or some other way to add more planning/forethought to the process. That seems like the only way to avoid, for example, casting a 40- or 50-year old as an Elf who has to be alive and young at the end of the Third Age some 30 seasons (years) in the future, or casting a character with a prominent singing role with an actor who can't sing.

We could also use that to require that twins be cast with actual twin actors. I have some worry about Elrond because his actor seems to have no twin, as far as I know, and two actors who look very much like his actor were cast as his sons. That might leave us without good options for Elros. (We don't know whether Elrond and Elros were identical or fraternal, but conveying twin-ness to an audience may be a lot harder without identical actors. The Half-elven twins do have the advantage of starting as children, though, so if necessary we can try to convey it with identical age alone. I don't think that would be ideal, though.)

brainstorming:

A casting sheet that the Execs approve would also help encourage them to consider and voice their own expectations ahead of time, too. I suspect that Corey didn't sit down and decide "Caranthir has to look like X" and then refrain from telling us... it seems more likely that it didn't come to mind until he disliked our nominees and had to articulate why. I think, though, that maybe we don't necessarily have to run every 'casting sheet' by them, but only crucial stuff? The podcast time available is finite, after all. Like maybe it isn't necessary to get Exec approval for age restrictions on Elf actors, but we should run height or singing or dancing requirements by them.

In a way, Season 1 had casting sheets. Nothing on them was required as far as I can tell (not having been here at the time) but they had suggestions that influenced who was nominated. Then again nothing on those sheets seemed really crucial, except giving Melian an actor who could sing and dance. The short actor selected for Yavanna was rejected in favor of another nominee, due to a decision that she must be tall.
 
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Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
I think we should definitely narrow down the casting process with casting sheets, or some other way to add more planning/forethought to the process. That seems like the only way to avoid, for example, casting a 40- or 50-year old as an Elf who has to be alive and young at the end of the Third Age some 30 seasons (years) in the future, or casting a character with a prominent singing role with an actor who can't sing.

We could also use that to require that twins be cast with actual twin actors. I have some worry about Elrond because his actor seems to have no twin, as far as I know, and two actors who look very much like his actor were cast as his sons. That might leave us without good options for Elros. (We don't know whether Elrond and Elros were identical or fraternal, but conveying twin-ness to an audience may be a lot harder without identical actors. The Half-elven twins do have the advantage of starting as children, though, so if necessary we can try to convey it with identical age alone. I don't think that would be ideal, though.)

brainstorming:

A casting sheet that the Execs approve would also help encourage them to consider and voice their own expectations ahead of time, too. I suspect that Corey didn't sit down and decide "Caranthir has to look like X" and then refrain from telling us... it seems more likely that it didn't come to mind until he disliked our nominees and had to articulate why. I think, though, that maybe we don't necessarily have to run every 'casting sheet' by them, but only crucial stuff? The podcast time available is finite, after all. Like maybe it isn't necessary to get Exec approval for age restrictions on Elf actors, but we should run height or singing or dancing requirements by them.

In a way, Season 1 had casting sheets. Nothing on them was required as far as I can tell (not having been here at the time) but they had suggestions that influenced who was nominated. Then again nothing on those sheets seemed really crucial, except giving Melian an actor who could sing and dance. The short actor selected for Yavanna was rejected in favor of another nominee, due to a decision that she must be tall.
I suspect they assumed that Benedict Cumberbatch, who is our Elrond, would be able to cover the dual role of Elrond and Elros.
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
I don't think he actually can, though. Elrond and Elros didn't truly separate from each other until they were 90 years old. They didn't even choose to be mortal and immortal until they were ~58. They'll have to appear on screen together, as adults. I hope we can reserve somebody who looks a lot like Cumerbatch for Elros, so he doesn't get cast as someone else.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Actors can play scenes opposite themselves (you film both coverages with a body double, so the camera is drawn to the face of the primary actor, and the eye accepts that the other one is the same person).

It is grueling work, though, because of course you need to be two characters in two costumes and differentiate them from each other in some way, as well as playing both sides for all of the shots. Some actors do it well. Some do it...less well.

I don't know if Benedict Cumberbatch has ever done that before; I don't know his work, so wouldn't know where to look for any examples. I would be just as happy to cast someone else as Elros, if we can, when we get there. But it's possible we'll have the boys be teenagers when they're together, so having the same actor play Elros and Elrond in very different scenes might not even matter, in the end. There's no indication that Elrond ever visited Numenor (though we may choose to have him and Elros meet up at some point after it's founding for some reason).

You may recall this scene from Return of the King, where the Witch-king confers with Gothmog:
Naturally, this scene is Lawrence Makoare interacting with Lawrence Makoare, as he played both characters. But the average viewer doesn't notice or think that, given the types of costumes you're looking at there.

A more obvious example from Lord of the Rings would be the Smeagol/Gollum conversations. Andy Serkis did the performances for both, and the audience was trained to tell the difference between the childlike Smeagol and the more wrathful Gollum. So much so that in the end, when the Ring is destroyed, we see that it's Smeagol who goes into the fire (though it was clearly Gollum who bit Frodo's finger off).

There are plenty of other examples of actors playing two versions of the same character, or an alter ego. No one is surprised that the same guy who plays Clark Kent is also Superman, or that Peter Parker is Spiderman, or that Bruce Wayne's actor is also Batman's actor. Granted, most of these involve separate scenes, but there are occasional blurred lines, where we have to believe that it's Bruce Wayne, but another character he's interacting with has to believe that it's Batman. Or something.

Edward Norton did an entire film where he played his own twin, and those twins were the main characters. Granted, I've never actually watched Leaves of Grass, so maybe it's terrible, but it certainly has been done.

Clip (language warning, drug use)
They have different hair styles, clothing, mannerisms, personalities, and accents. It's easy to believe it's two different people.

And of course you knew I had to have some Supernatural examples ;)

Misha Collins talks to himself in a dark empty echoing room (The Empty)
Identical costumes, but a strong effort to differentiate characters with weird accents and mannerisms. Misha later joked that his accent in this scene is typical of people trapped on oil rigs in the Atlantic.

Jensen Ackles is Dean...and a subconscious dream version of Dean who is dressed and sounds exactly the same. You can always tell who is talking in this scene, which is just downright bizarre when you think about it. I'm not sure I could tell you how the acting is different, but it clearly is. It's little things: real!Dean does a lot more winking and has easy movements. Dream!Dean doesn't have that casual humor and moves quite deliberately. So his face is smoother and more fixed. But it's subtle and not nearly as easy to point out as the other examples (though of course there are all those subtle acting choices there too). It helps that the conflict between these two characters is established immediately in this scene; they can look and sound identical and yet clearly be different from each other.

And of course, Sam talks to Lucifer while being possessed, which means that Jared Padelecki has a conversation with Jared Padelecki-in-the-mirror. Lucifer is calm and in control;Sam is trapped and fighting and angry. The difference is quite clear, even though the costumes and voices are the same.

So, long story short, if we have to have someone play their own twin, we can do it, but of course if someone can think of a look-alike to cast, we can do that too. If we wind up recasting teen Elrond and Elros, we can get twins for them, perhaps.
 
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Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
I think we should definitely narrow down the casting process with casting sheets, or some other way to add more planning/forethought to the process. That seems like the only way to avoid, for example, casting a 40- or 50-year old as an Elf who has to be alive and young at the end of the Third Age some 30 seasons (years) in the future, or casting a character with a prominent singing role with an actor who can't sing.

We could also use that to require that twins be cast with actual twin actors. I have some worry about Elrond because his actor seems to have no twin, as far as I know, and two actors who look very much like his actor were cast as his sons. That might leave us without good options for Elros. (We don't know whether Elrond and Elros were identical or fraternal, but conveying twin-ness to an audience may be a lot harder without identical actors. The Half-elven twins do have the advantage of starting as children, though, so if necessary we can try to convey it with identical age alone. I don't think that would be ideal, though.)

brainstorming:

A casting sheet that the Execs approve would also help encourage them to consider and voice their own expectations ahead of time, too. I suspect that Corey didn't sit down and decide "Caranthir has to look like X" and then refrain from telling us... it seems more likely that it didn't come to mind until he disliked our nominees and had to articulate why. I think, though, that maybe we don't necessarily have to run every 'casting sheet' by them, but only crucial stuff? The podcast time available is finite, after all. Like maybe it isn't necessary to get Exec approval for age restrictions on Elf actors, but we should run height or singing or dancing requirements by them.

In a way, Season 1 had casting sheets. Nothing on them was required as far as I can tell (not having been here at the time) but they had suggestions that influenced who was nominated. Then again nothing on those sheets seemed really crucial, except giving Melian an actor who could sing and dance. The short actor selected for Yavanna was rejected in favor of another nominee, due to a decision that she must be tall.
That's if we go 30 years with this entire process.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Actors can play scenes opposite themselves (you film both coverages with a body double, so the camera is drawn to the face of the primary actor, and the eye accepts that the other one is the same person).

It is grueling work, though, because of course you need to be two characters in two costumes and differentiate them from each other in some way, as well as playing both sides for all of the shots. Some actors do it well. Some do it...less well.

I don't know if Benedict Cumberbatch has ever done that before; I don't know his work, so wouldn't know where to look for any examples. I would be just as happy to cast someone else as Elros, if we can, when we get there. But it's possible we'll have the boys be teenagers when they're together, so having the same actor play Elros and Elrond in very different scenes might not even matter, in the end. There's no indication that Elrond ever visited Numenor (though we may choose to have him and Elros meet up at some point after it's founding for some reason).

You may recall this scene from Return of the King, where the Witch-king confers with Gothmog:
Naturally, this scene is Lawrence Makoare interacting with Lawrence Makoare, as he played both characters. But the average viewer doesn't notice or think that, given the types of costumes you're looking at there.

There are plenty of other examples of actors playing two versions of the same character, or an alter ego. No one is surprised that the same guy who plays Clark Kent is also Superman, or that Peter Parker is Spiderman, or that Bruce Wayne's actor is also Batman's actor. Granted, most of these involve separate scenes, but there are occasional blurred lines, where we have to believe that it's Bruce Wayne, but another character he's interacting with has to believe that it's Batman. Or something.

Edward Norton did an entire film where he played his own twin, and those twins were the main characters. Granted, I've never actually watched Leaves of Grass, so maybe it's terrible, but it certainly has been done.

Clip (language warning, drug use)
They have different hair styles, clothing, mannerisms, personalities, and accents. It's easy to believe it's two different people.

And of course you knew I had to have some Supernatural examples ;)

Misha Collins talks to himself in a dark empty echoing room (The Empty)
Identical costumes, but a strong effort to differentiate characters with weird accents and mannerisms. Misha later joked that his accent in this scene is typical of people trapped on oil rigs in the Atlantic.

Jensen Ackles is Dean...and a subconscious dream version of Dean who is dressed and sounds exactly the same. You can always tell who is talking in this scene, which is just downright bizarre when you think about it. I'm not sure I could tell you how the acting is different, but it clearly is. It's little things: real!Dean does a lot more winking and has easy movements. Dream!Dean doesn't have that casual humor and moves quite deliberately. So his face is smoother and more fixed. But it's subtle and not nearly as easy to point out as the other examples (though of course there are all those subtle acting choices there too). It helps that the conflict between these two characters is established immediately in this scene; they can look and sound identical and yet clearly be different from each other.


So, long story short, if we have to have someone play their own twin, we can do it, but of course if someone can think of a look-alike to cast, we can do that too. If we wind up recasting teen Elrond and Elros, we can get twins for them, perhaps.
The process of having one person play two people has been done by Benedict Cumberbatch, where he confronts Dormammu; Cumberbatch plays Doctor Strange while he also provides the voice for Dormammu. Dormammu kills Strange about 10 times onscreen (and a bunch of other times we don't see).
 
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