I’d only worked in advertising a couple of years before I moved to London, but during that period I wrote tons of radio commercials.

Not yer newfangled “BUY THIS! BUY THAT! IT’S GREAT IT’S CHEAP!” kinda radio commercials, but subtle, sophisticated, funny, monologue-y, wordy ads that were so witty and brilliant that no one ever had a clue what they were advertising. Let’s just call it my little spoke-in-the-wheel-of-capitalism (which, now that I think of it, is a nice description of my entire advertising career).

They took radio ads seriously back in 1980s NYC. We’d arrange casting sessions and call in thirty, forty actors for an ad, determined to get exactly the right one.

Then I moved to London, and discovered that not only was casting not done for radio, but it was frequently not done for film and television.

‘Use Jack Dee,’ was a line I heard a lot.

‘But he’s in everything.’ 

They’d look at me quizzically. ‘That’s a good thing. People know his face. They know he’s supposed to be funny.’

I always wondered why we couldn’t just make the ad funny — scour the comedy clubs, discover some amazing untried unknown, be the first!

But no. No one in England ever wanted to be first (see also Keira Knightly, Keira Knightly and Keira Knightly).

Genuine, original casting requires that you close your eyes, ditch your preconceptions, think laterally, do something unexpected. Not Stephen Fry this time. Not Keira. Not Jude. Not Colin. Not the usual suspects, good as they are.

And yet…whenever I think about Kevin McDonald doing street casting for Daisy in How I Live Now I feel a bit nervous. Wouldn’t it be better to get a star?  Soairse Ronan? Emma Watson? Mia Wasikowska? Someone who signals that this is a big film before you even step foot in the cinema?


But maybe it’s more fun to make a star than to buy one?


31 thoughts on “A few more words on casting.

  1. bookwitch 8 years ago

    Much nicer.
    And spare me KK, please!

  2. Caroline 8 years ago

    I’m looking very much forward to this film, streetcast or big stars, I can’t wait.

    1. Meg Rosoff 8 years ago

      I was trying to think of some great examples of brave casting, so thank you for that one, Bazza. Brilliant film.

  3. Lois Freidman 8 years ago

    Would you consider a small black dog for the part of the Eck? It would give a new twist to the title–maybe??

    1. Meg Rosoff 8 years ago

      Actually, I know a small black dog who’d be perfect. American accent, though……xxx

  4. Emily 8 years ago

    I’m just scared about the whole thing! What if I don’t like it?! Are you scared, Meg? They are taking your baby away and putting make up on it and dressing it in new clothes! If they must do that, I hope they dress it in something elegant, classic, understated (because that’s part of what I love about the book), that fits perfectly.

    1. Meg Rosoff 8 years ago

      You get very thick skinned after publishing a bunch of books. So no, I’m not scared. Also I have a lot of faith in my producers and director. So many things have to work to make a great film, so it may not turn out to win an Oscar, but I really don’t think it’ll be a awful. The whole film team seems to “get” the book. No sign yet that they’re trying to turn it into a horror/romcom.

    2. Emily 8 years ago

      Just looked up what Kevin MacDonald has directed. I feel a lot better! He’s awesome! Your book is definitely in safe hands 🙂

  5. Daniel Hahn 8 years ago

    For brave and prescient casting, how about William Wyler needing a leading lady to match his big star Gregory Peck for Roman Holiday, and going for someone almost entirely unknown to movie audiences: “And introducing Audrey Hepburn”.

  6. Lauren 8 years ago

    A lot of people have been asking if the auditions for this are still going ahead? Did you just not find the people you were looking for in the previous auditions? When you say street castings what do you mean?

    Sorry for so many questions but you would not believe how many people are asking on all these different acting forums! xx

    1. Meg Rosoff 8 years ago

      Hi Lauren
      To be honest, I’m not completely up to date on this, but what I do know is that street casting (there have been signs on the streets of NYC asking people to audition — http://www.megrosoff.co.uk/2011/08/05/more-how-i-live-now-casting/) was going on for some time, along with video submissions and submissions from agents. I don’t know whether any of the parts have been cast. THe problem with casting teens is that they change very quickly, and the film is not due to be shot until spring 2012.
      I’ll see what else I can find out in the meantime, so keep an eye on the blog.
      Sorry for any confusion. xMeg

  7. B 7 years ago

    Alright, well I’m a little hesitant to post this (for fear of accusations that may come along with this), but anyways…

    Yes, the casting for Daisy and other cast members is STILL going on.

    How do I know this?

    Because I myself just auditioned for the role a few weeks ago and am waiting to hear back from ‘the team’, which “will take awhile, as the team members are all out of the country at the moment,” or so the Casting Director’s e-mail informed me.

    The sides (the few pages of the script I memorized for the audition) seem a tad different than the book, but they seem really wonderful Meg- I think your book is in great hands 🙂

    Hope this helps!

    1. Meg Rosoff 7 years ago

      No accusations! Thank you for the information. x

  8. Olivia 7 years ago

    I avidly read “How I Live Now” over the summer, and I have to say, it was one of the best books I have ever read!! Really compelling, I could NOT put it down!
    I saw that on another post you had replied with “video submissions and submissions from agents”. Is one able to send in a video submission for even an extra role? I’m in the process of getting an agent at the moment and even having the chance to be the most minor of roles would be amazing….any light you could shed on if you definitely need an agent to apply would be very kind 🙂 Keep up the good work, I’ll be reading lots of your books in the future! xx

  9. Jenna M. 7 years ago

    Hi Meg,
    If you are going for an unknown for the role of DAISY, here’s a suggestion: Lauren Whiteley.
    She’s been suggested some for other YA book-to-film adaptations.
    Her IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3601292/
    I think she’d be a good fit!
    Meg, I’d love to know what you think of her! =)
    Thank ya!

    1. Meg Rosoff 7 years ago

      She looks amazing, Jenna. Wonderful face. I hope they consider her…..

    2. Jenna M. 7 years ago

      That’s what I thought! I read online on some fansites that she was considered for the role of Katniss in the new “Hunger Games” movie. Pretty cool stuff!
      I hope they consider her too!
      I would love for an unknown actor to get the role of Daisy!
      I think it’s time for a new face to enter the industry and get the role, rather than the same teenage actresses we are always seeing.
      Thanks for responding! 🙂
      Can’t wait to see the film!

    3. Jenna M. 7 years ago

      Meg, do you get the opportunity to have any input in the casting of the film?

  10. Tabitha Suzuma 7 years ago

    Meg, I can’t imagine how thrilling yet terrifying it must be to have your book (baby!) turned into a film. Sorry for being hopelessly out of touch with everything but is this the first time for you? If so, what was your initial reaction/concerns? And do you get ANY say/approval in the casting process or scriptwriting?
    I think street-casting is far more exciting and holds much more potential than settling for a big name. From ages 8-18 my greatest ambition was to be an actress: I went to Saturday drama school, did lots of amateur dramatics and by my late teens was at drama school going to weekly ‘cattle-calls’. I appeared in some magazine ads and a few low-budget plays but the closest I got to breaking through was a call-back for ‘The King and I’ and a double call-back for ‘Miss Saigon’. It ended up between me and one other girl for Miss S and I was so gutted not to get the part that I decided to give up and go to uni… So if the casting directors get it right, the film, thanks to your book, could change ‘Daisy’s’ life – or at the very least, give her a fantastic experience. I get bored of the same old faces, refuse to see any film starring KK (or spoonface as we call her), and as a teacher I often come across children and teens who blow me away with their acting. So I think this is great – albeit nerve-wracking for you! Good luck!

  11. Nicky 7 years ago

    Hey Meg! Have the cast Daisy yet? I’m getting so impatient! Haha! I really can’t wait until it comes to the big screen!

    I would love to have auditioned for Daisy though, they’re casting in New York now?

    I’m seriously considering making a youtube video of me acting out her part with my best American accent, haha!

    I don’t like being impatient, haha! Good Luck with it Meg, are you not really impatient as well though, waiting for it?

  12. Sophie 7 years ago

    Hi Meg! I love your book! It’s amazing and I can’t wait for the film!

    Since they’re street casting for Daisy (which means they’re having open auditions) can you please send me a small part of the script or a monologue to act out so I can audition on Youtube? I really want to audition and since they’ve found no one yet, who knows, I might be your Daisy that no one knows of because I never got the chance. And yes I’m American

    Thanks Meg! 😉

  13. Sophie 7 years ago

    Oh that’s a shame, I would have totally auditioned if it was youtube auditions, but thank you very much Meg! I’ve emailed them and hope I hear from them soon!

    Thanks Meg! 😀

  14. Amanda 7 years ago

    I auditioned for the role of Daisy yesterday! I’ve never wanted something this much in my whole life. Even if I don’t get chosen, I’ll still look forward to the film.
    Thanks for creating such a wonderful book Meg!

  15. Nicky 7 years ago

    Meg, do you know why they’re only looking for Daisy in America? Us British actors are just as good! Haha!

    Any news on the casting yet?

  16. Meaghan Hynes 7 years ago

    Meg- fantastic book, cannot wait for the film!

    I auditioned for the role, and i’m not sure i’ve ever connected with a character so much in my life. Whether or not I get the role, I will wait on the seat of my chair for the day the film is released. I think street casting is a great idea-there are so many wonderful prospective young actors who just need to catch a break!

  17. Megan 7 years ago

    Variety reports Saorise Ronan has been cast.
    Along with every other up and coming movie requiring a teenager. I love this story, and theres no denying Ronan is an amazing actress, but the thoughts of an unknown actress was quite exciting.
    Ronan is cast in loads, and this is no different. Its a shame, I’ll sure she’ll deliver a punch but I cant help feeling slightly let down by the casting director for going with such an obvious actress.
    Oh well, lets hope it works out 🙂

  18. Taylor 7 years ago

    But trying to find an unknown that has acting skill comparable to Saoirse Ronan may be near impossible. She’s so damn good!!

    So i love this choice because i KNOW FOR A FACT that the character is in great hands.

  19. Meg Rosoff 7 years ago

    I just heard this literally five minutes ago, so don’t know any details.
    Will see what i can find out.

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