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CASTING STEPHEN WHITE 06/14/2012

Posted by landfallprods in Purple Mind.
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Stephen White?  Who is Stephen White?  Never heard of him?  Me neither, except from my friend, Dave K, who went to high school with Steve and continues to be his best friend.  I’d heard David mention Steve over the years, but when I began telling Dave about the film I was planning on shooting (“Purple Mind”), he invariably would mention something about Steve, his friend who’d grown up in a Hollywood family like mine, but unlike me, had decided to shun frivolous Hollywood in favor of a more serious career in “The Theatah.”

There was no getting around the fact that I needed a strong actor to play the part of WEST, the therapist who stages an intervention with Roy Matthews.  According to David, Steve was all the things I was looking for.  The part required someone mature, like Steve.  The part required an actor with a strong presence, like Steve.  And the part required a damn good actor, like Steve.

When I cast Steve, in addition to Dave’s recommendation was an old audition video Steve sent out to Shakespeare companies which really didn’t translate to a contemporary film, so, much like my experience with Will Shepherd, I was shooting in the dark with another casting choice.  Well, sort of.

Did I mention that Steve is a graduate of the Trinity Repertory Theatre Conservatory in Providence, Rhode Island, and The British American Drama Academy in London?  Did I mention that Steve had worked as an actor, director and/or fight choreographer with Washington D.C.’s Arena Stage, The National Shakespeare Company, The Camden Shakespeare Company, Seattle’s Group Theatre and many others?  Oh, yes – about the Hollywood family?  His dad was the cinematographer on several of the films of Cecil B. DeMille, and his three uncles practically invented Hollywood; one produced “The Three Stooges” films, another produced and directed a number of Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire movies, and the third owned his own silent film studio.  Steve’s family was a freakin’ Hollywood legend.

And there was Steve, living way out in the wilds of Fairfield, Iowa, home of the Maharishi University, working as the Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Ensemble at the Stephen Sondheim Center.  Holy shit!  Would Steve even consider a part in a little, no-budget film like mine?

“Hell yes,” Steve said, after I sent him the script.  After all, Steve had been coming out to L.A. for a month several winters in a row to study with the very well regarded acting coach, Tom Toderoff, and after forty years of doing Shakespeare all over the globe, Steve was finally interested in returning to his roots and getting in front of a camera.

And so, for better or worse, I had my West.

Stephen White reading at his Shakespeare Ensemble in Fairfield, Iowa

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