McSweeney Newman CastingI’m re-blogging the interview I did with Tom McSweeney some time ago. Tom has landed the casting for some US pilots and is currently holding auditions. You must be represented by an agent to be considered. You must also be able to speak confidently with a general American accent. The interview below gives you some tips on Tom McSweeney’s audition style and what he likes, etc. Hope this helps and good luck!!

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An interview I did with Tom McSweeney a couple of years ago. Still highly relevant today!

How long have you been in the entertainment industry?

Almost 40 years

How did your career start?

As an actor when I was 6 yeasrs old.  Spent ten seasons with a professional repertory theatre company working in all aspects of theatre – acting, crew work, stage management, house managerment, box office, concessions etc…..

When and why did you move to casting? 

In Los Angles in 1987.  I saw casting as a way of getting in the door to pursue my directing aspirations.  I spend over a year trying to get the first job as a casting assistant only to be knocked back by “lack of experience”.  Finally, Cathy Henderson took a punt on me (she was desperate for an assistant and had no one else, I think).

And in particular why Australia? 

I am married to an Australian who wanted to come back home.  I also wanted to raise my second daughter down here rather than in LA.  I saw Australia as a chance to start over again….a fresh start.

You have an extremely long list of major credits, besides your recent Emmys nomination what’s a stand out casting that you’re most proud of?

Probably STARTER WIFE because it was such fun to work on.  I am very proud to have gotten Australian actors into roles that were supposed to be played by Americans.

Did you ever visualize being nominated for a major award for casting? 

No.

What will the Emmys nom mean for your career?

Probably not much.

And you personally?

It is a tremendous validation for 20 years of hard work.  To be recognized by your peers for a job well done is most gratifying.

Do you plan on remaining in Australia?  

Yes

How does your casting process begin? 

I read the script and begin to get a visual image in my head of what the cast will be like.  Then I release a breakdown to the agents and take a look at what they think then cull it back to about 5-10 choices for each role and set up tests.

Do you set yourself certain guidelines?

Diversity of types, ethnicities.  Professionalism and pro-activity of the artists.  Dedication to craft.

How much influence do you have with the director/producer in final decisions? 

Depends on the producer/director.  Sometimes they listen to what I have to say and sometimes they aren’t interested in my opinion.  At the end of the day it is what they want that matters, not what I want.

What do you look for in an audition? 

Clarity of thought and action.  I want to be able to believe this is a real person having a conversation.

Again, any rules? 

Be professional and be prepared.  No excuses.  Have fun – you are getting to do the thing which makes you happy so be joyous at being given the opportunity to do what you love to do and realize you’ve already won…..by getting to audition.

Is it helpful for actors to know you for a ‘foot’ in the audition door? 

Not necessarily.  If I don’t know them, but the look is right and there is a history of study then I will give them a go.

Do you like receiving show reels? 

Yes, I have a library of showreel on file.

What’s your ideal show reel? 

5 mins which show the range of the actor.  Variety in the types of scenes shown. Length, pieces, etc.

What kind of hours and commitment is required of you?  

Really long hours – on call 24/7 and 110% commitment to finding the best actor for each role.  I try to make each project I come in contact with better than it was.

Your knowledge and skills are quite broad; you’re one of Australia’s leading casting directors, have directed your own shows, teach acting classes and now teach directing students at Bond Uni.  Will it ever stop?  What’s your ultimate goal? 

In the best of all worlds I would love to run a training school and be the artistic director of a repertory theatre company.

Will you be directing more of your own projects in the future? 

Yes.

Some fun stuff…

Fave movie.  

So many to choose from……GONE WITH THE WIND, JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG, WIZARD OF OZ, GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER – don’t really have a FAVORITE….

Fave actors. 

SPENCER TRACY, KATHARINE HEPBURN, MONTGOMERY CLIFT, CHRISTIAN BALE, LAURA LINNEY, EDWARD NORTON

Any role models. 

Dr David Addington – my mentor in college, Vincent Dowling – the artistic director of the rep company I started in as a child.

Any indulgences that you can’t live without.

Theatre.