Arts & Entertainment


Judd Apatow

Lesson time 7:37 min

Casting is key in bringing a character to life. Judd explains his process for finding the right actors and conducting auditions in a way that encourages improvisation and collaboration.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Cast As Early As Possible • Cast People You Want to Follow Out of the Room • Remain Open While Casting


If it seems like we're going to make the movie, my approach is to try to cast it as early as possible. A lot of times, people cast a movie in the last couple of weeks before they shoot the movie. Sometimes they're casting the movie as they're shooting. But I always feel like if I could cast the movie six months before I shoot, then during those six months, I can be doing table reads and rehearsals. The actors and actresses can become friends. I remember I did a TV pilot with Jason Segel and Kevin Hart, and I made them live together for a week so they could figure out what their dynamic was. And so you know, when we were working on Trainwreck, when we hired Bill Hader to play the part, you know, we made sure that there was enough time for Amy and Bill to become friends and to hang out and figure out, hey, if we liked each other, why would we like each other? What is our chemistry-- not just as the characters we've written but also just in real life? How do we relate to each other? So to do things early is always very, very helpful. I'm not really sure there's a way to explain how to decide who to cast. For me, I just have an immediate reaction. Oh, I like that person. I want to know more about that person. I'd like to spend time with that person. But it really is as simple as, do I want to see that person? You know, sometimes you see a movie, and there's someone as a small part, and you say, I wish the whole movie was about that woman. I wish she just left this scene, and the movie was her life. And that's really what casting is. Sometimes someone comes in, and you don't know why, and you just think, I can watch that person all day. And you know, we've felt that, you know, about a lot of people. I remember when Jason Segel came in, and he auditioned for Freaks and Geeks, and he was 18 years old. And he did a scene that Paul wrote, which was him describing his drum kit and his dreams. And we just fell in love with him instantly. And you know, we didn't know why, but he was very open-hearted and sweet. And there was also a sense of, you know, he had a puppy dog expression. You also feel like you could hurt him. And at the same time, you'd enjoy seeing him get hurt, if that makes any sense. Because some people are nice, and you enjoy beating them up in movies and then seeing how they deal with it and then how they triumph over that. Ben Stiller is like that. For some reason, people like to see bad things happen to Ben and to see how he gets through it and then ultimately wins. And we had that feeling about Jason. But it's that-- you know, it's different for every person. When we met Emma Stone on Superbad, I think we thought she was a great actress. She's the most likable person I've ever seen, and she also seems smart and funny and the type of person who, in high school, would like Jonah. She would be able to see that beneath all of his bluster was a great guy, and that made us love her that she would know tha...

About the Instructor

No joke: at age 15, Judd Apatow took a dishwashing job at a comedy club to watch the acts. Today, he’s the comedic genius behind hits including The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, and Freaks and Geeks. In his first-ever online comedy class, the Emmy Award winner teaches you how to create hilarious storylines, write great stand-up, and direct movies that leave audiences laughing.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Judd Apatow

Judd Apatow teaches you how to write, direct, produce, and perform comedy for film and television.

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