Let’s face it- sometimes you just have to cast to type. Sometimes you can only allow people in your casting space that look like they were out of central casting. This is particularly true when you’re casting roles that represent conventional characters that have few lines, but must quickly serve some symbolic or utilitarian purpose for your story.
For instance, if you’re casting for a “heavy”, or a gangster or repo agent that aggressively knocks on the door of an accountant to repossess his furniture- well then chances are you’ll be auditioning guys that are 6’4, and 250 lbs all day long.
But when is it OK to cast against type? When is it a good idea to invite actors into your casting room that may look a little unconventional, and bring something to the role that adds an extra dimension to your story that may not be evident on the page of the script?
Ironically, your prominent roles or main characters can typically serve as characters that are subject to interpretive casting. Why? Mostly because we can devote a significant amount of screen time to developing this character. The audience is willing to accept nuances, quirks, or peccadilloes that the character may exhibit. As an audience, we’re occasionally willing to break type for these characters and we’re open to accepting a truly original personality to drive the story and add a degree of originality to our production.
So the next time you’re casting, and you have a few characters that can “grow” on screen, keep your options open and audition all types of actors. You may be pleasantly surprised with your results.