Of the two characters in the movie, I assumed that finding Billy would be more difficult than finding Denise. I know a number of great actresses in the city and knew that any number of them could take a bite out of the role. However, with great actresses giving their all to a role, you quickly realize that what it comes down to are small details. How did Alicia and I see Denise? What kind of vibe did she have? Should she come off as a professional? As a giddy woman doing something she’s never down before? As a ball of nerves? Tightly wound? All of these things? In terms of physical appearance, I saw a huge range of people – all different sizes, shapes and look. Alicia and I had agreed that Denise, above all, needed to look like an every-woman. She needed to be someone that we could all recognize. So again, we were back to just needing a great actress.
When Becky White read for the role, she was in San Francisco doing a play. I always feel it’s a disadvantage to see someone on tape when you’re seeing everyone else in person, but regardless, I had asked her to read for Denise and she had expressed interest in the role. Part of what I had appreciated about Becky’s audition was the amount of work she had clearly put into it beforehand. There is nothing more satisfying as a writer/director than seeing that a person has put a lot of energy into their audition. It gives the sense that the project will matter just as much to the actor as it does to you. And Becky definitely gave us that sense. Beyond that, casting Becky was a lesson for me in terms of learning about the nuances in the casting process. When you see a number of great actresses, it may just simply come down to a person’s energy or some small detail that they brought to their audition that catches your eye. It wasn’t that anyone else was bad or wrong, quite the opposite actually, it was just this indescribable nuance that we saw in her.
So the casting process was finished. I had my Billy and now I had my Denise.
On to rehearsals.