On Monday, the Woodstock Film Festival’s annual Youth Film Lab, now in its second week, welcomed casting director Ellen Chenoweth, who spoke to students about her prolific career working with Barry Levinson, the Coen brothers and other well-known directors, and about her casting method.
“Don’t cast your typical villain,” Chenoweth advised to a student developing a short film about gun violence. “I tend to lean toward casting people who don’t fit the regular bill.”
Chenoweth’s role as a casting director, which has spanned decades, has helped launch the careers of once-unknown actors, like Mickey Rourke and Kevin Bacon. She began her career with the Coen brothers working on their film O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU.
She advised students to organize group readings when casting for a film, and to try to search for cast members independent of what a director may have in mind.