How often have you seen a movie which was entertaining enough and beautiful to look at but the most important roles were played by actors who didn’t fit? And the opposite; an actor who was so right for the role that it is hard to imagine how anyone else could play that part.
Spartacus has been remade and it may be that the new version appeals to a younger, present-day oriented crowd, but to me Kirk Douglas was so exactly right in the role that anyone else seems tame. There were many excellent actors in that first Spartacus, some who might be considered better actors, but Douglas WAS Spartacus.
How does the casting director make such crucial decisions? There appears to be some genius to it. Lynn Stalmaster is the best know of the long time casting directors. It is said that he never spent more than five minutes with an actor. He had the knack of knowing whether an actor was suitable just by looking at him or her for a few moments, and asking just a question of two.
According to him he works very hard to get the right person. The Hollywood Reported did a great interview with him.
Type in his name in Google and you should be able to find it. After awhile some of these articles get moved around so I am not including the link here.
The Internet Movie dataBase lists 383 movies that he has cast. Actors, directors, producers and crew would benefit by studying Stalmaster’s approach. Star Search Casting is a casting company that is available as a website where actors and others can get a great deal of information and create a presence.
John Houston, who used Lynn Stalmaster, was once asked by an actor on the set why Houston didn’t give him any direction. Houston reportedly replied that once the casting was done well, the movie would make itself. If he got the right actor, there was no need for direction.