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Alexander Payne on directing: casting is 'first among equals'

January 21, 2012 | 11:49 am

Filmmaking is by nature a collaborative process, but when people think of a movie, it's usually the cast — more so than the editor, writer, cinematographer or even director — that pops into their head first.

Filmmakers George Clooney ("The Ides of March"), Stephen Daldry ("Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"), Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist"), Alexander Payne ("The Descendants") and Martin Scorsese ("Hugo") sat down with The Times' John Horn at the recent Envelope Directors Roundtable and talked about the importance and challenges of assembling a good cast.

For Payne, the actors are at the core of any film. He said, "No matter how well lit and shot and everything, [people will ask] 'Who's in it? Are they good? Do you believe them?' They are the primary conveyors of the tone of the film, from the director to the audience through the actors."

The cast is "indispensible," Scorsese chimed in.  "You can have different cinematographers … you can have a different director, literally, but you need the actor up there. You need them."

See more of what Payne, Scorsese and the others had to say in the video above, and check back next week for two more clips from the round table.


Stephen Daldry: Young Thomas Horn is 'a proper leading man'

Martin Scorsese: Doing just one shot makes a fine 'first half-day'

Alexander Payne: Machinery of filmmaking mars 'intimacy of a shoot'

— Oliver Gettell

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