Building Character: The Art and Science of Casting

Building Character: The Art and Science of Casting

by Amy Cook


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What can we learn about how we understand each other and ourselves by examining the casting we find on stage and film—the casting we find perfect and the casting we find wrong? Building Character examines how the process of “casting” an actor in a part creates a character and how this can be usefully understood through deploying theories from the cognitive sciences. A casting director may match the perceived qualities of an actor with the perceived qualities of the character, but the combination is also synergistic; casting a character creates qualities. While casting directors do this professionally, all of us do this when we make sense of the people around us. This book argues that we build the characters of others from a sea of stimuli and that the process of watching actors take on roles improves our ability to “cast” those roles in our daily lives. Amy Cook examines the visible celebrity casting, such as Robert Downey Jr. as Ironman or Judi Dench as Bond’s M, the political casting of one candidate as “presidential” and another as “weak,” the miscasting of racial profiling and sexual assault, and the counter casting that results when actors and characters are not where or who we expect.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780472053766
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Publication date: 02/28/2018
Pages: 198
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Amy Cook is Associate Professor of English and Theatre Arts, Stony Brook University.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Building Titus

Compressing the Complex into the Essential 35

Chapter 2 Building Characters

Seeing Bodies 65

Chapter 3 Multicasting

The Dispersed Character

Chapter 4 Casting and the Performance of Everyday Life 121

Chapter 5 Counter Casting

Building Colony 135

Notes 149

Bibliography 175

Index 185

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