Chapter 17 of 32 from Ron Howard

Casting

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Ron encourages you to look beyond an actor’s tangible skills. Learn how to trust your gut and recognize the intangible qualities that a performer will bring to a role.

Topics include: Be Meticulous in Casting • Follow Your Gut • Look for Creative Compatibility • Test the Waters • Overcome Casting Missteps • Respond to the Intangible Qualities

Ron Howard

Ron Howard Teaches Directing

Ron Howard teaches directing, editing, and storytelling in 32 exclusive video lessons.

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The great movie director-- one of the most awarded of all time, if not the most-- William Wyler had a simple formula. He thought 90% of directing films was script and casting, and then he said the other 10% was knowing how to get out of the way when you've done the first two things correctly. There's a lot to be said for that. Casting is vitally important. And it's a process not to be trifled with, to be taken very seriously. A director can guide a performance in some instances. Maybe if you're working with a child, or a very specific actor with a set of tremendous strengths but another set of weaknesses, it might be possible to really mold a performance. But it's rare when that succeeds. The director really, really needs the actors to be strong. And, especially in film, there has to be some kind of connection between the actor-- the performer-- and that character that you can just readily accept. Now there's some great, great character people who can surprise you, and they can create that connection in ways that you never would have expected. But that connection is still there. Meryl Streep leaps to mind. Dustin Hoffman-- some amazing characterizations, and they don't seem very much like Dustin Hoffman at all. And yet, you know. Believe me, Tom Hanks is nothing like Forrest Gump. But there's an innate connection there that I think if a director sat and talked to any of those actors before they were going to tackle a role where they were going to transform themselves, they were still building on something that they understood and felt. So you have to be very meticulous about the casting process. [MUSIC PLAYING] All of directing boils down to taste. We're talking a lot about techniques and options and possibilities. And at the end of the day, it always comes back to that sense of what's good, what's right. And you have to keep trusting that feeling. These things are not academic issues. They're creative. They're aesthetic. When you're looking at an actor's work-- whether you're watching other movies or television shows or plays that they're in-- and you're trying to make the decision about the casting, you do have to follow your gut. Conversations with them will matter a lot. Sometimes other factors will come into play-- that, by the way, that actor has very little control of. For example, if you're casting a family-- if you put everybody's picture up on a wall, do you feel like they're a cohesive unit? Can they look like a family? And the answer may be no with an actor or an actress that you're really considering. As an actor myself-- often disappointed by going in, auditioning, and not getting a role-- I was shocked when I began casting because I realized that as a director most of the people that you're looking at in a casting session can do the role. In other words, they're talented enough, they're experienced enough, the...

Direct your story

Ron Howard made his first film in 22 days with $602,000. Today, his movies have grossed over $1.8 billion. In his first-ever online class, the Oscar-winning director of Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind decodes the craft of directing like never before. In lessons and on-set workshops, you’ll learn how to evaluate ideas, work with actors, block scenes, and bring your vision to the screen—whether it’s a laptop or an IMAX theater.

Watch, listen, and learn as Ron Howard breaks down directing in his first-ever online class.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps, assignments, and supplemental material.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Ron will also answer select student questions.

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Ron Howard

Ron Howard Teaches Directing