Woody Allen backs Oscars for casting directors

Director writes open letter in support of his longtime casting director, who he credits as being instrumental in his films’ success

• Woody Allen on Blue Jasmine: ‘You see tantrums in adults all the time’
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Woody Allen has weighed into the debate over whether casting directors should have their own Oscar by writing a letter to industry trade magazine the Hollywood Reporter outlining the contribution his own casting director, Juliet Taylor, has made to his films.

Allen writes: “My history shows that my films are full of wonderful performances by actors and actresses I had never heard of and were not only introduced to me by my casting director … but, in any number of cases, pushed on me against my own resistance.”

He continues: “If it were up to me we would use the same half dozen people in all my pictures, whether they fit or not. Despite my recalcitrance, Juliet has forced me to meet and to watch the work of many new people and to hire people on nothing more then her strong recommendation.”

Allen cites a list of actors, including Jeff Daniels (Purple Rose of Cairo), Patricia Clarkson (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and Dianne Wiest (Hannah and Her Sisters), who Taylor persuaded him to use, as well as being able to convince already well-known personalities such as Saul Bellow, Marshall McLuhan and Susan Sontag to make cameo appearances.

The issue has been raised by the imminent cinema release of Casting By, a documentary about the casting process which, in the words of the Hollywood Reporter is a “lament that casting is the only ‘single-card’ opening credit that isn’t recognized by the Academy Awards”. The film focusses on the legends of the casting business, including Marion Dougherty (Midnight Cowboy, Batman), Lynn Stalmaster (Deliverance, Tootsie) and Taylor herself, who has worked on 41 Allen-directed films as well as The Exorcist, Taxi Driver and Schindler’s List.

Allen adds: “I owe a big part of the success of my films to this scrupulous casting process which I must say if left to my own devices would never have happened.”

• Woody Allen on Blue Jasmine: ‘You see tantrums in adults all the time’
• Readers vote: the 10 best Woody Allen films

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