Stunt casting is a term in casting that refers to the use of a gimmick or publicity stunt to fill a role in a television series, film or theatre production. Stunt casting can take many forms, ranging from a celebrity or famous non-actor cameo appearance to the use of an actor's real-life relatives to play the corresponding fictional character's relatives or younger or older versions of the same character.
Stunt casting is used to generate media attention. It may also be employed in order to garner studio support or financing for a project; for example, according to DVD featurette commentary, the 1978 version of Superman received studio support only after the producers were able to enlist A-list actors Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman to appear.
In musical theatreEdit
Broadway musicals are known to occasionally cast celebrities (typically from the areas of television, film, or pop music) with little theatre experience. Celebrities are often cast for short engagements of a few months, with the hope that the draw of a recognizable name will boost ticket sales and extend the lifetime of a show's run. Producers Barry and Fran Weissler are said to have pioneered the trend, beginning in the mid-90's with their 1994 revival of Grease. The role of Betty Rizzo was originally played by Rosie O'Donnell (then best known as an actor on television and in film), and during the production's four-year run, was played by a series of celebrities including Debby Boone, Sheena Easton, Joely Fisher, Debbie Gibson, Linda Blair, and Brooke Shields. The Weisslers' revival of Chicago which began in 1996 has been especially noted for its casting of celebrities, such as Melanie Griffith, Wendy Williams, and Jerry Springer, with commentators pointing to this as a reason for the show's extreme longevity (still running as of 2019, it is the second longest running show in Broadway history after Phantom of the Opera).
In an interview, Barry Weissler attributed the success of stunt casting to its effectiveness with tourists visiting New York City who are less influenced by reviews and more interested in seeing "a star that they know". For this reason, celebrity casting is especially prevalent during the summer, due to the higher volume of tourists.
- Parental Units: The Perverse Charm of Stunt Casting from New York Magazine, January 2005
- Celebrity Voice Actors: The New Sound of Animation April 1999
- Green, Jesse (15 February 2004). "THEATER; Passing the Bra: The Search for a New Edna" – via NYTimes.com.
- McKinley, Jesse (31 July 2004). "Broadway's Season Of Name-Dropping" – via NYTimes.com.
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