Imagine trying to sort through all the people who want to act in a part, and think about how hard it must be to find the right one. Now multiply that over several shows, and you have some idea of the chore that must be indeed. Casting Director Marie Adams took some time to explain how it all works. This interview took place November 2000 in Auckland, New Zealand.
The Process of Casting (03-11)
Casting Challenges (12-17)
AMAZON HIGH (18-19)
Good Finds (20-24)
Multi-cultural Casting (25-26)
 BRET RYAN RUDNICK:
It must be a tremendous undertaking to try to match the right actor with the right part. How did you get into the casting business in the first place?
 MARIE ADAMS:
I started with a theatre company in London, and when I came back home (to New Zealand) I worked with a group that was doing a lot of experimental theatre. That company was INSIDE OUT. I did some commercials and movies, and I was with Pacific Renaissance at the beginning when they did the telefilms. It was all new back then, and there hadn't been anything here on that scale. We had to establish a whole infrastructure. We had to invent how a lot of things happened. I've done work on all the Pacific Renaissance projectsHERCULES, AMAZON HIGH, YOUNG HERCULES, JACK OF ALL TRADES, CLEO. This is my season to do XENA, Season Six.
The Process of Casting
You get a script to work from?
Sometimes, and sometimes you only get a beat sheet (multi-page description of the episode, characters, etc.) These can change a lot by the time you get to a shooting draft. We'll break things down and categorize to gender, age group, that sort of thing.
You have an inventory to draw on?
Yes, I have a cupboard full of people here. I have pictures and tapes of people here from Auckland, Wellington. It's American accent work that requires a lot of self-confidence. That can narrow things down. The ability to do the accent can make or break it, really. We'll see who we think might work out, and through their agents send audition scripts. They'll audition for the part, and we'll put it on tape. In the next room is a whole wall full of tapes. I'll go over the auditions with the director.
 The smaller parts have more latitudecomedic or serious, big guy or little guy. The lead parts are much more specific. It's a small pool in Auckland, but I work with people in Wellington as well. Now in Season Six a lot of the good people are used up, and the actors are too established to re-use again. You have to look much further afield.
Has it been difficult for you to find people?
Kevin Smith was a rare find.
Sometimes it can be. It can be really difficult to find that solidly built Kevin Smith (Ares, Iphicles) type of man. Even looking in Australia sometimes you have to really hunt to find those kinds of guys.
I've been told that in New Zealand acting is something people who are younger try, but after a few years if they don't make it, they go off and do something else.
Yes, absolutely. People need more regular employment.
What were some of your tough casting challenges?
Casting CLEO was a challenge, and eventually the leads were chosen from actresses in the USA.
We did do a big hunt for the girls who played the leads in CLEOPATRA 2525 (Gina Torres, Victoria Pratt, and Jennifer Sky). They were eventually cast out of America, but we gave it a good shot. We looked in Australia as well. That was a big hunt. We're lucky to have younger talent such as the Joel Tobecks (Deimos, Strife). Women like Kate Elliot (Yakut) and Danielle Cormack (Ephiny, Samsara) relish those Amazon roles.
It's good we get to see these actors on television, at least. I've seen several wonderful New Zealand films. New Zealand has a fresh, natural approach to film making that is very refreshing and interesting. Although the pilot AMAZON HIGH (Michael Hurst, 1999) didn't make it, we did get to see most of it as clips in a XENA episode [LIFEBLOOD (106/516)], and it's easy to see why actresses like Claudia Black (Cassandra) and Danielle Cormack are held in such high regard because they just steal the scenes.
Claudia Black has found a home on the series FARSCAPE, but first appeared in Pacific Renaissance Pictures pilot AMAZON HIGH
Claudia was over here making a series at the time. I auditioned her for that. Her face on camera is quite exceptional. But all of the actors just relish the Pacific Renaissance parts they get. They come in and make mincemeat out of the audition. They work very hard to get it right.
Do you have any "finds" you're particularly proud of?
I remember getting Joel on for the first time, which was great. It was quite funny the way that happened.
I understand he auditioned several times before he got a part.
It took several false starts, but once on XENA, Joel Tobeck got semi-regular work.
Yes, that's right. We sort of had a fight, because he was so annoyed at not getting on. We kind of had a little argument. Nothing serious, but we had a discussion. He was angry at not doing well. But things finally popped, and he got in.
 Marton Csokas (Borias, Khrafstar) came through at about the same time. He's a great performer. He's got a movie coming out, RAIN (Katherine Lindberg & Robert J. Wilson, 2001), which is just starting down here.
Another refreshing thing about New Zealand casting is they're not as constricted by racial boundaries as American casting people are. In America, people wouldn't generally think of having, for example, a Hispanic or Asian actor read for a certain part. It may well not even be a conscious thing, but just a habit. That doesn't happen as much in Pacific Renaissance.
Everyone here has to be able to do the accent, that's really the first and foremost consideration. Everything else is secondary. Absolutely.
BiographyBret Ryan Rudnick
IAXS Executive Committee
"You can never have too much money or too many Amazons"
When he's not working for a big Science/Engineering company that (amongst other things) designs, builds, launches, and operates exploratory spacecraft, Bret writes fantasy novels and short stories. Bret is a man of many skills, having also previously been an Olympic-qualified archer, a drummer in the Butch Grinder Band, a news reader for Public Television Station KVCR, and a Deputy Sheriff for the County of San Bernardino, California. He also collects Japanese swords, armor, and art. He and his dog hunt down stray Bacchae in New England.
Favorite episode: HOOVES AND HARLOTS (10/110), WARRIOR...PRINCESS...TRAMP (30/206), and THE QUEST (37/213)
Favorite line: Xena: "What's this?" Gabrielle: "I'm... an amazon princess?" Xena (rolls eyes): "Great." HOOVES AND HARLOTS, 10/110; Xena after being goosed by Joxer: "Are you suicidal?" WARRIOR...PRINCESS...TRAMP (30/206); Joxer: "Ha. Ha." A COMEDY OF EROS (46/222); Autolycus: "I'm not just leering at scantily clad women, you know, I'm working!" THE QUEST (37/213)
First episode seen: CRADLE OF HOPE (04/104)
Least favorite episode: IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL (72/404)