A Star is Found Book Cover

Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins, two of Hollywood’s biggest casting directors (their credits are listed on the cover of the book, but to review them follow the IMDB links at the bottom of this review), discuss the inner workings of casting a major Hollywood film. And they don’t just discuss them, they go into great detail, including specific events and incidents involved in certain film castings.

A Star Is Found is a (somewhat) candid description of the daily life of a major Hollywood casting director (or two), recounting casting stories from several major films, citing extensively from A Beautiful Mind, Harry Potter, and The Princess Bride.

What makes the book such an interesting page-turner is the quick, almost gossipy writing style. Once you start reading, it’s hard to put it down. Finding out surprising facts about how a certain person was chosen for a role is always exciting, especially for anyone with a real interest in filmmaking or the film industry in general. How did Julia Roberts get her start? Paul Bettany? Tom Cruise? How were the three leads chosen for the Harry Potter movies? All these questions are addressed in depth in this book, but the stories are not just cited as irrelevant information, each tidbit is used to illustrate a specific point that one of the authors may trying to be making at the time. The book is written in a back and forth style, with each subsection titled “Jane” or “Janet” depending on who’s writing.

There is a little bit of information and some tips to lesser-known actors on how to behave in an audition, callback, screen test, and beyond, but mostly this book is dedicated to describing the casting adventures that have already occurred. The first few chapters mention the break down of actor categories: Wannabes, Unknowns, Working Actors, etc. The rest of the book is about casting the Stars, and how Unknowns became Stars. This has the effect of at first giving the reader the impression that everyone has a shot, and then crushing that idea by the end by adding an addendum to that: everyone has a shot… as long as you know someone, are related to someone, or have already been working elsewhere.

Janet and Jane discuss their rules of auditioning, which, thankfully, involve always treating every actor fairly. Such a rule is refreshing to hear from such a big casting team, and actors and casting directors alike can take note in what the casting duo lays out as ground rules for any audition. Anyone who is at all interested in doing film work should check out this book. It offers definite insight into how you can help a casting director do their job, and if you’re lucky end up getting yourself a job (as an actor) because of it.

They share almost identical credits, but here you go: 

Janet Hirshenson: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0386664/
Jane Jenkins: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0420864/

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