This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"Don't speak Latin in front of the books."
11980 members | you are not logged in | 23 October 2018


July 24 2009

(SPOILER) Dollhouse episode 2.02 casting call. Casting call for the second episode of season two.

I know some friends that would probably kill to be on dollhouse.

[ edited by Jayne's Hat on 2009-07-24 09:28 ]
Anyone else find that call for a 15 y/o female character to be a bit creepy?

What am I saying, it's Hollywood.

[ edited by VaughnOfTheDead on 2009-07-24 09:32 ]
No title? Boo.
So, someone help me understand this. Is this a casting call for JUST the second episode? Meaning these characters definately won't be reoccuring? If so, what's the difference between 'guest star' and 'co-star'?
How lovely for John Slattery to be "type". He is probably to busy on Mad Men to drop in at the Dollhouse.
I laugh at the fact some actor is like "Yeah, I'm John Slattery-esque."
Is it something specific for the episode that the females have a figure description and a looks description, but the males don't, or is that something that is more common?

It just seems a bit peculiar, as if only the women should look good :P

[ edited by Wilgje on 2009-07-24 15:11 ]
Liking the "please submit all ethnicities" part (thank you, Shonda Rhimes).

I don't know if the female figure descriptions are usual for a casting call... but they strike me as typical.

And tiresome. And bordering on unnecessary considering the supply of size zeros per square mile in Los Angeles County--!
(thank you, Shonda Rhimes).


Also, you can hardly judge the episode for including "models" as part of their cast seeing as we have no idea what context they'll be used in. In fact knowing Joss' propensity for casting fuller-figure women and the theme of the show in general, I'd be willing to say these castings are storyline-driven rather than just a desire for eye candy.
I'd also say that these are storyline-driven. It's the first DOLLHOUSE casting call I've read where they demand model-type women.

Also note-worthy: they're just co-stars. Therefore they don't have that much screen time anyway.
Casting calls can, and do, specify things that are important to the character. Here in the UK, for example, while it would be totally illegal to advertise for a shop worker and say "White only" it is perfectly proper and legal to specify that when casting a movie or TV show if it is important to the character.

So if they specify that these female characters must be "Model types" then I assume they are models in the show, or that aspect is part of their character, and it would be unbelievable for someone who doesn't fit that physical description.

Ageism is bad too, but anyone in their twenties auditioning for the Professor role would be rejected for the same reason. A twenty year old would not be believable as a respected professor.
What zz9 said. And if there's a McLaud family won't be common a asian kid.
It might well be something that's demanded by the plot as important to the character...but the phrasing of it still makes me uncomfortable.
What, specifically, about the phrasing makes you uncomfortable? Or, perhaps more to the point, how could they request those types of characters with a different phrasing?
Yeah that's was why I asked if it was specific for this episode or if you see it more often. Just found it interesting that it was only women that had that qualification.

[ edited by Wilgje on 2009-07-24 17:31 ]
I got the impression that the request for modelesque women was character driven.
It's within the context of our larger culture, in which unreasonable demands are placed upon women to look a certain way--demands we don't place upon men. In which even "average-looking" women can't get acting jobs because they don't fit Hollywood's demands. Plus, "traditional" good looks 99% of the time means "white." Or at least as Caucasian-looking as possible. I already have many problems with race on Joss's shows, and that "traditional" troubles me more. I realize that all this is par for the course, but I do hold Joss to a higher standard.

But I think the thing that bothers me most about this--that bothers me enough to comment instead of just rolling my eyes--is describing a fifteen-year-old as having a great figure. It doesn't matter one bit to me that this character will be played by someone over 18. 15 is a child. There is a chance that Joss might, in this episode, be critiquing the sexualization of children, in which case, I'd withdraw my comment. But until I see that for myself, I'm going to remain uncomfortable.
Also, the please submit all ethnicities thing is not a new development. They write that for any character where the script doesn't specifically name a characters race. Sadly, most of them will end up being cast by white actors anyway.
Lirazel, as a man, or 19 year old anyway, I'd say that I feel a crippling demand to constantly look good. Demands to look a certain way are put on both sexes.
Also, the please submit all ethnicities thing is not a new development. They write that for any character where the script doesn't specifically name a characters race. Sadly, most of them will end up being cast by white actors anyway.

Exactly, bonzob. Exactly.

Progressive_Stupidity, I'm not going to do Feminism 101 with you. I'm not. I don't have the time or the emotional energy at the moment. But if you really think that the expectations men are subjected to are anything like the ones women are, I really don't know what to say to you.
Lirazel, I don't need you to explain 'Feminism 101' to me. I'll just roll my eyes at your dismissive comment.
Well, to be honest, I found your comment dismissive, not to mention hurtful. I have to deal with the whole "Women. You're always complaining" thing a thousand times a day, so perhaps I'm hypersensitive, and that might not have been what you meant, but it sounded like it, and your comment rubbed me the wrong way.
I don't think I was at ALL saying that women are 'always complaining'. I consider myself, mentally, at least half feminine and I definately wouldn't say 'women are' or 'men are' so much as I'd say 'that person is'.

My point was that, it just seems like people often bring up for example, that women are expected to be thin in order to be accepted as Hollywood pretty, which I TOTALLY agree with. Thats a big concern for me. But at the same time I think theres ALSO a demand for a man to have a buff, well toned body in order to be considered Hollywood handsome, for example.
Yes, you may be right about that, but I was discussing women. Your comments read to me (your intentions aside, because I can't judge them) as classic derailment. Like when POC are talking and some white person says, "But white people have it hard, too!" Or in a discussion of rape culture when a man says, "But not all men are that way!" That's derailment, and it contributes to the problem.
I'd prefer it if you two took this debate to email as it's starting to look somewhat personal from my p.o.v..
I brought up this subject because, in your original comment, you said that women are given social pressures to look a certain way which AREN'T put on men, therefore I think my comment was relevant. I wasn't dismissing your original point about women, I agree, but I also disagree that those pressures aren't also on men.

I think they are. Although I would say that pressures on men havn't been as strong as they are on women, its getting progressively worse.
Oh, ok Simon. My last comment was posted before I saw yours.
Alright, Simon. Sorry you had to step in!
MattManic7325 - I believe what Valsadie was referring to was Shonda Rhimes' (creator of Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice) tendency to cast based on talent more than on look, making her shows some of the more diverse without them being about that diversity. Does that make sense? I hope I explained it well.

twinkle and Jayme - this happens more often than you might think. It's incredibly helpful to have a description of a character, but it's infinitely more helpful to have a known commodity for which to aspire. That maybe sounded crass, but every actor knows that he or she is a product. We all had to come to terms with that at one point. So, just like it's helpful to say, "I want a burger," it's even more helpful to say, "I want a burger... like McDonald's or Wendy's," rather than Denny's or Johnny Rocket's, or some such. A distinguished man is up for interpretation; a John Slattery-type, less so.
In fact knowing Joss' propensity for casting fuller-figure women

Irony detector may be broken, or my anglophonelessness is having another party, butÖ que? You canít throw a stick in the jossverse without hitting something petite and eyewateringly pretty :)

15 is a child

Does that prohibit her from having attractive features?
Original Willow was a large girl (replaced at the networks request), Jewel was asked to gain weight for Kaylee, November was written as a larger woman, and those are the ones I know about.

There is plenty of evidence that Joss likes having a mix of body types on his shows.
Well, I agree with you on the first part completely, hence--I thought that statement must be ironic as well. But as for the second, yes, absolutely, being a child should prohibit someone from being viewed in a sexual manner. To say Adair Tishler from "Epitaph One" is adorable or even pretty is one thing; to describe a fifteen-year-old's body in such a way is inappropriate.
zz9, well, for a range it is not terribly impressive, is it.

It might be inappropriate to describe it like so, yeah. But that donít take away the fact that her body actually is what is described.
Why is it wrong? If you want to tell a story about, for example, a man attracted to an underage girl and in the script he says "I couldn't help it, she's so hot" then you would have to hire an actress who is physically attractive, therefore you would need to send details to casting agents specifying that.

When they made the Arnold Schwarzenegger Story I'm sure the casting sides said "Must be really hunky muscular looking guy"
It's not a "Female" thing, it's a "Casting" thing that applies, where applicable, to men and woman in exactly the same way.

ETA: Hence, Christina Hendricks isn't exactly "petite" either. Nor is Amber Benson.

And if the script calls for someone with a certain appearance then that has to be in the casting description.

[ edited by zz9 on 2009-07-24 21:48 ]
But why does it need to be said, hence? Unless a plot point turns on the fact that she has a great body and is thus being sexualized within the world of the show, why on earth would you mention such a thing about a character who's supposed to be a child?

It's not a "Female" thing, it's a "Casting" thing that applies, where applicable, to men and woman in exactly the same way.

zz9, I disagree with this statement so much that I can't even address the rest of your comment. It does not apply in exactly the same way. Can I reiterate again that expectations of women are more fraught than those of men? The way women are treated in Hollywood (and the culture at large, and, for that matter, the entirety of the world) is different than the way men are.
zz9. Yeah, O.K. not petite perhaps, but I still donít think ďall body typesĒ is a fair label here.

Lirazel, to me it is said because it (supposedly) is true. There is something fundamental about that that deserves to be chewed on. You look at the consequences instead. Something equally valid I think but that doesnít interest me just as much.
You're right. I am interested in consequences. I'm interested in how we live our lives, in this world, in reality, and I'm interested in the way in which the art we do or don't create influences that.

I wish I could just watch a show and enjoy it in a vacuum. But I can't. Because as soon as I turn off the TV, I have to live in the world. I have to live in a world in which women are told that their only value is in their looks. In a world in which people are still judged every day of their lives on the color of their skin. In which homophobia runs rampant. And TV shows absolutely contribute to that world, for better or for worse.

Again, though, I'm going to agree with you on the body types thing.
I think we both want to see change. Iím just labouring under the delusion that we can find what is true, or at least get as close as humanly possible, and structure everything on top of that. It is when we try to bend what is true to our needs that we often get in trouble. Guess you can never not bend a little though.
Lirazel, in the context of casting sides my statement is true. If something is in a casting description it's because it is important to the plot.
If a "character" is white, black, hot, ugly, male, female, tall, short, whatever then they have to hire an actor who matches that description.

The mere fact that they say "Female, 15" is proof of that.

Otherwise they'd just say "We need eight people who can act."

That is why the TV and movie business is specifically allowed to discriminate where the script justifies it. Unless you're suggesting that Joss put "great figure (ideally a fit model)" in there just for a laugh then we have to accept that that will be important to the story.

If they held auditions for a show and an actress came in and the casting guy turned into a speechless drooling puddle because of how hot she was, and she was cast on the show, would you think that meets your opinion of how "The way women are treated in Hollywood"?

Because that scene did happen exactly that way. But the casting guy was a woman. And the actor was hired to play Angel.
It is when we try to bend what is true to our needs that we often get in trouble. Guess you can never not bend a little though.

In my experience bending is absolutely necessary any time you try to effect real change from within a system. The argument between people doing that and people working outside about how much compromise it too much is a long ongoing thing that will never be resolved because it's coming from very different ideas of what compromise means.
Unless you're suggesting that Joss put "great figure (ideally a fit model)" in there just for a laugh then we have to accept that that will be important to the story. See, and I'm never going to believe that with all those incredibly good-looking people on all those shows, it was necessary for them to be good-looking. It's a larger culture issue. I can't view this in a vacuum.

I wish I could believe that people didn't subconsciously choose people who are white/male/straight/able-bodied, whatever. I wish I could believe that the people who make our entertainment really sit down and ask themselves, "Is it absolutely necessary to have this character be male? White? Able to walk/hear/see? Young? Good-looking? Thin?"

But I don't.

I don't think Joss is God. I think he--and the people who work with him--are just as likely to subconsciously fall into these traps as I am. I hope when I do it, people call me on it (trust me, my privilege shows a lot--and I don't always react graciously when people call me on it). Which is what I'm trying to do here. I think the ways in which people go about making these decisions need to be talked about.

You're giving whoever wrote that casting call more of the benefit of the doubt than I am. That's your prerogative. But all of these things are so wide-spread that I just can't do that anymore.

Because that scene did happen exactly that way. But the casting guy was a woman. And the actor was hired to play Angel.


I think I need to bow out of this discussion.

[edited for grammar fail]

[ edited by Lirazel on 2009-07-24 23:04 ]
I'd appreciate it if the tone of this thread recovers significantly. If you can't argue this respectfully, argue it elsewhere.
All this drama...and the episode hasn't even been cast yet (throws hand to forehead in a very dramatic fashion).

But beyond all of this - where does one apply?
I have no illusions that Hollywood employs beautiful people, male and female, and that an actor who gets old has a far better chance of carrying on working than an actress.

Whether this is conscious or subconscious or whether this is the industry genuinely believing that that is what they need to do to keep the audience happy is a long discussion for somewhere else.

But while Joss might subconsciously fall into this trap I cannot believe that when they go out of their way to specifically describe an attribute they want in an actor or actress that it can be for any other reason other than it is important and necessary for the story.

If they just asked for "Actress who looks 15" and then rejected any actresses who were overweight or "plain" looking for purely personal reasons then it would be subconscious discrimination.
The fact that they have gone out of their way to specify an attribute must mean it is important to the story.

I guess we'll find out in a couple of months....
Personally, I'm fascinated by "charactery." Charactery? Can someone who is more savvy about castingspeak illuminate me on this one?
I was drawn to "charactery," too. I think it means someone with 'character,' rather than someone 'without character,' but I can't be too sure.

Hey, how 'bout them Dodgers?
I took it to mean they wanted a character actor, or someone with some of those skills. I happen to be really nebulous on that concept to begin with though.
I think "charactery" often means, to quote Fargo, "kinda funny-lookin'." Your Steve Buscemis or Tim Blake Nelsons. Your Amy Sedarises or Jennifer Coolidges. In this case, though, I think it means that a bit, but it more means he's a stereotypical befuddled professor. He's short, squat, tweedy. He has thick glasses, and maybe a pocket watch. Just my guess. If I was a theatrical agent, I would send out my more balding, funny-nosed actors.
Yeah that fits my vague impression except they seem to me more willing to be funny looking and disappear into a part. Amy Sedaris isn't funny looking, but she'll adopt pretty much any bizarre look she thinks a part needs.
Lizazel, I understand your point and did find myself sarcastically thinking "Of course they need more female characters with descriptions like 'Great Figure (ideally a fit model), traditional good looks. model types.'" On the other hand I spent a good part of my life in theater and you do have to look at casting through a SLIGHTLY different lens. ie: Hollywood casting usually would not say that they want beautiful women with size 0 bodies. They would simply only cast those women who fit that look. In this case, the fact that they are saying that that is what they need, indicates that it is specific to the script. The fact that the women in question are mother and daughters and that the aunt is specifically described as having a heavier figure, also indicates that the story may very well have this as an integral part of the relationship or conflict.

Casting notices are a coded message that people in the business learn to read pretty fast. The specificity that can seem like it is reinforcing the typical casting in Hollywood, in this case implies that they really are looking for a variety of types. I've been away from it for a while, so happily the code has changed. (Whenever they wanted someone who did not look like Sandra Dee, they used to ask for "ethnic types.") "Traditional good looks" could mean white but I'm guessing it means the kind of model of any race who would be seen as "pretty" rather than "striking", mainstream rather than high fashion. The casting of that whole group of women is going to depend on what mix they can get. They need 4 women who look something alike, fit the ages, the description, and...oh yeah...being able to act would be good too.

Oops, someone said all this in a shorter way while I was writing.

...and I agree with Xanman on the definition of "charactery." Now the trick for the actors is to guess whether they want a stereotype that has been sen before, like the example Xanman gave, or do they want someone to really take a risk. I'm guessing the script will give them the clue.

This thread has been closed for new comments.

You need to log in to be able to post comments.
About membership.

joss speaks back home back home back home back home back home