Interview with Casting Director Dan Hubbard

Dan Hubbard

TAEM- The Arts and Entertainment Magazine is very excited to introduce Daniel Hubbard to our legions of readers. Daniel is a casting director and has been involved with such films as ‘King Kong’, ‘Bourne Supremacy’, and ‘Bourne Ultimatum’. Daniel, how did you begin your career in the exciting world of filmmaking, and what was your greatest influence in doing so?

DH – I would have to say my Parents on both fronts. My Mother started the company over 30 years ago. I have been surrounded by it all my life, from coming home from school to find Actors on my couch, to going to the theatre it has been a big part of my family. I didn’t intentionally go into it but was working on films sets in the Mid-90’s and couldn’t get consistent work so decided to run in my Hubbard Casting for a while, liked it so much I didn’t leave. I cast my first movie when I was 20 and the rest is history.

TAEM- We have many students of the Arts that research our magazine for guidance. Please explain what you do and the responsibilities that you perform as a Casting Director.

DH- That is such a complex question to answer but in a nut shell it’s my job to provide the Production with the best possible talent available  based on what in the budget and the strength of the material. Usually it’s my responsibility to breakdown the characters with the guidance of the Director based on his creative vision. I then draw up my own ideas and also see who the Agents suggest. Sometimes it can involve many sessions meeting lots of people, other times I would put up my top 15 choices and set up meetings with the Director and Producer. It differs every time. It’s my responsibility to make sure the sessions run extremely smoothly and that the room is well lit and the sound adequate. I then have to do the auditions and distribute the auditions amongst the Director, Producers etc. There is usually a lot of debate as to who is right and for what reasons (marquis value, look, experience, acting chops etc). I help the Director and Producer reach their decisions. Once they have made their choices I negotiate a deal and work out what kind of stipulations or perks the Actors are going to get, close the deal with each Actor’s Agent and then I draw up a Casting Advice Note which is document reflecting what has been agreed and then we go to contract. That’s more or lest it.

TAEM- You began in 1997 casting for four short films and then proceeded to work on four episodes of the television series ‘The Jump’. How did these earlier experiences have an affect on your commitment as a casting director?

DH – The short films taught me about the creative side of casting and were a simple ‘teething’ process. I was working with Directors and Producers of little experience and it was a process where everyone was learning together. The Jump was terrifying. Very serious and a whole other level. It’s 100% professional, and high expectations, and scary Producers.

TAEM- In 1999 you worked with a spate of productions that included ‘Julie and the Cadillacs’, ‘The Murder of Stephen Lawrence’, ‘A Kind of Hush’, ‘To Walk with Lions’, ‘The Secret Laughter of Women’, and the short, ‘Piggy Bank’. Please tell us the themes behind some of these and the stars that you worked with for them.

DH- Julie and The Cadillacs was a film I cast when I was 20. It was pretty terrible low grade material which was being produced and financed by the writer. He was still living the 60’s and had a very ‘Cliff Richard’ view of it all. It was a musical too, however I did end up casting Billy Boyd who was Pippin in Lord Of The Rings which my Father and Sister cast. As for The Murder Of Stephen Lawrence, that is to this day, one of my proudest achievements. It was my first collaboration with Paul Greengrass and we bonded totally. I understood his vision, his need to tell a truthful story and the importance of his work. The others were a great learning curve me, To Walk With Lions as that was one of Richard Harris’s last performances outside of Harry Potter and Secret Laughter Of Women as I got to work with Colin Firth.

TAEM- The following year saw you working with ‘Metropolis’ and the documentary short, ‘Tales From the Reading Room’. This was soon followed by two other shorts along with ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’ and the TV-series ‘Dark Realm’. How exciting was this for you?

DH – They are all a very mixed bunch. Clearly the most exciting was Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Looking for Lara Croft was incredible fun. Naomi Watts came in! This was of course before she became famous. Metropolis was a one of series written by Peter Morgan who I have since collaborated with on The Damned United (Starring Michael Sheen) and more recently The Jury II, which will star Julie Walters. Dark Realm…well I’d rather not say anything about that! It was of course massively exciting for me but I am very ambitious and my work has always come first. I was delighted to be getting the jobs, but more terrified to be making sure I did myself proud. Fear can be a good thing sometimes.

TAEM- The next two years found you working with no less than a dozen other productions that included the notable TV-movies ‘Helen of Troy’ and ‘The Investigation’, and two television series ‘The Jury’ and ‘Paradise Heights’. You once again played a key element in the Lara Croft Tomb Raider films with the sequel ‘The Cradle of Life’, too. You must of felt quite a bit of accomplishment by this series of success. How were you able to juggle so many responsibilities in such a short time?

DH- When I was at this stage, I was getting used to multi-tasking and I had my methods. I rarely take long holidays so am always around. I guess with the evolution of the internet and emails it made my life a lot easier. I remember a time when everything was faxes and typed lists. In those days you would be lucky to leave the office before 11pm at night.

TAEM- In 2004 you once again carried the ball with ‘Lighthouse Hill’ and the television series ‘Pulling Moves’, but were soon also tackling seven episodes of ‘Keen Eddie’ and six episodes of ‘Murder City’. Please tell us about these productions.

DH – Lighthouse Hill was a low budget film which never got seen.  It was sweet but didn’t really have a market. I remember meeting Sienna Miller for that and thinking how beautiful she was and how she was glowing with potential. She didn’t get the job. Pulling Moves and Murder City were high profiled TV projects and very hard work. Keen Eddie was the most fun. FOX was producing and we would get the script on Monday and have to be fully cast by Friday. Now that’s pressure. Incidentally, this was Sienna Millers first real part.

TAEM- The year was not done for you yet when you topped it with three other project , then the hit movie ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ with Matt Damon. Please tell us about this project and your work with this film.

DH- Well at this stage Paul Greengrass and I were really used to working with each other. I had already worked with him on The Murder Of Stephen Lawrence and Bloody Sunday but I think by this stage we had a system. Paul was very cool about the whole thing, he didn’t ever seem to get nervous. I can’t really talk about Paul’s methods as that is confidential but he is very clear and concise with what he wants and needs, he knows what he’s doing, but above all he always has his eye on the end project and from in my point of view that is extremely refreshing and a rare pleasure.

TAEM- Not one to let moss grow under your feet, the following year saw you with several other projects and working on nine episodes of the television series, ‘Born and Bred’. These, too, were followed by the notable movie, ‘King Kong’. You truly humble me with the amount of talent that you have worked with. Up to this point in your career tell us about some of your favorite celebrities in these periods and of your personal relationships with them. Who was most outstanding in their acting abilities?

DH- To be honest the lion’s share of the Casting was carried out by the fantastic Victoria Burrows in LA. Someone whose career I would love to achieve one day. I met a lot of wonderful Actors in London for various roles it was very hard work. On ‘King Kong’ the stand out performance was Andy Serkis in terms of the amount of commitment, preparation, and physical side of things, were mind-blowing. I can’t pinpoint any favorites. I love Actors who wear their hearts on their sleeves and go for the pure and honest truthful performance over heightened or stylized. I love Paul Thomas Anderson’s work and how he approaches Casting. Look at the people he has worked with. Boogie Nights alone is a feast of Acting. As for personal relationships I don’t tend to have strong personal relationships but I do have strong professional relationships with the Actors and, very importantly, their Agents and Managers who tirelessly promote and fight for them. Orland Bloom is a very close friend and we have worked together on Lord Of The Rings, and am also about to work with him on something else.

TAEM- You’ve completed many great works since that time that included such great movies as ‘Battle for Haditha’, ‘United 93’, ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’, and ‘The Green Zone’. You certainly have led a remarkable career and you were a key element in some of the favorite movies of our time. Can you give us a sneak-peek into some of your current projects?

DH- I am currently working on film called ‘The Number’s Station’ starring John Cusack and Malin Ackerman. It’s kind of like Bourne Ultimatum meets Assault On Precinct 13. ‘Cities’, which is movie starring Clive Owen, Kirsten Dunst, and Orlando Bloom, being Directed by Roger Donaldson. ‘Last Passenger’ which I am casting and co-Producing which is a low budget but effects heavy Hitchcock style runaway train movie and also a 13 part series of ‘Sinbad’ for SKY TV.

TAEM- Dan, it has been truly an honor to be able to interview you for The Arts and Entertainment Magazine. I am sure that Students of the Arts, and seasoned actors alike, will be paying attention to every word spoken here. We wish you much luck in all that you do and hope that you will keep in touch with us for all your future projects.