July 15, 2016 at 8:51AM


How likely is it to cast a famous actor in your first film?

Hi, title explains all. How likely would it be if you managed to cast a famous actor, such as Anna Kendrick, in your first feature length film presuming you've done some shorts before.


Anna Kendrick's first film was the musical comedy Camp (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Kendrick). She also starred in Pitch Perfect, as did another Anna, whose last name happens to be Camp (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Camp). Anna Camp attended UNCSA's drama programs, both in High School (one year) and College (four years). It is not uncommon for actors in the UNCSA School of Drama to be cast in films made at the UNCSA School of Filmmaking. (And for musicians in the UNCSA School of Music to score and perform music for those films.)

Most films made at the School of filmmaking are "first films". So if you attend a world-class filmmaking school that has access to world-class dramatic talent, your chances are actually pretty good that you'll cast an actor in your film that will become famous: http://www.ranker.com/list/famous-north-carolina-school-of-the-arts-alum...

If you are talking about pitching a first film script to an already-famous actor, the chances are also non-zero, but probably a million times less likely, give or take.

July 15, 2016 at 12:53PM


To add to Michael's comments, I've also seen famous retired actors in small Indie films that were obviously done because of their love for the project. ( retired actors get no offers from anybody, so you never know if they might be willing to be part of your Indie project )

Also, having a once famous name attached to your project can make a huge difference when you are trying to crowd-fund your project's budget.

July 15, 2016 at 1:54PM, Edited July 15, 1:55PM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

We have not because we ask not - just ask. You never never know what they might say.

To piggyback Guy, reach out to active, underused actors too. The number of roles for an aging actor (unless you're Morgan Freeman) dramatically declines every decade because our stories (which at their core, are about conflicts and resolutions) always follow those in some sort of battle. Retirees don't command sea-worthy vessels in pirate-heavy waters, ya know?

July 18, 2016 at 4:37PM, Edited July 18, 4:37PM


It happens more often then you might think: investors always hope for name cast to help with box office or home video sales, and that pressure is even higher if the director is a first timer.

The best bet to attracting a name cast to your project is the combination of a great script and a way to get it to them. With actors who have slowed down in their career, you can generally go through an agent, but while an actor is hot they are getting lots of offers and won't really consider an offer from an unknown. But if you have met them in person somehow (at a festival, for instance), or are working with a more experienced producer, there's a good chance you can get the script read.

The key, as always, is great material: you see first time directors with name cast all the time, and it's usually a good script that does it.

July 20, 2016 at 7:55AM

Charles Haine
Filmmaker, Tech Nerd

While having a great script and connections to the actors alma mater might be very helpful, the number one answer to this question is $$$$. Any name actor is going to have an agent or a manager and you or your casting director will have to go thru them. Depending on what the SAG (and you'll almost certainly have to go with a SAG contract if your looking for any kind of name actor) agreement you've signed states scale is, will often decide if an actor even reads your script.
Many agents and managers don't pay attention at all unless the film meets certain budget and financing requirements. Every actor is different and there are some fantastic known actors who read scripts and who want to do indie projects and there are others who won't even look at them. You have to make your wish wish list with your production team and go down your list making offers. Oh yea, most known actors are going to be offer only, which means they won't even consider your project without a written offer.

September 5, 2017 at 5:52PM

Kathleen Vissichelli Hanley
Casting Director

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