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Building Character: The Art and Science of Casting

Amy Cook



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The University of Michigan Press
28 February 2018
Theatre Studies; Film, TV & Radio; Films, movies & cinema; Politics & government
What can we learn about how we understand each other and ourselves by examining the casting we find on stage and film-the casting we find perfect and the casting we find wrong? Building Character examines how the process of casting an actor in a part creates a character and how this can be usefully understood through deploying theories from the cognitive sciences. A casting director may match the perceived qualities of an actor with the perceived qualities of the character, but the combination is also synergistic; casting a character creates qualities. While casting directors do this professionally, all of us do this when we make sense of the people around us. This book argues that we build the characters of others from a sea of stimuli and that the process of watching actors take on roles improves our ability to cast those roles in our daily lives. Amy Cook examines the visible celebrity casting, such as Robert Downey Jr. as Ironman or Judi Dench as Bond's M, the political casting of one candidate as presidential and another as weak, the miscasting of racial profiling and sexual assault, and the counter casting that results when actors and characters are not where or who we expect.
By:   Amy Cook
Imprint:   The University of Michigan Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm, 
ISBN:   9780472053766
ISBN 10:   0472053760
Pages:   192
Publication Date:   28 February 2018
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Amy Cook is Associate Professor of English and Theatre Arts, Stony Brook University.

Reviews for Building Character: The Art and Science of Casting

How do we cast characters, sort out loved ones from the surrounding crush of humanity, much less keep track of whether actors are right for a part? Cook nimbly guides us through the cognitive functions that enable us to categorize people, and pulls more than a few rugs out from under our understandings of celebrity, politicking, and the culture wars. - Scott Magelssen, University of Washington In a masterpiece that lies at the intersection of the humanities and cognitive science, Cook shows that we form notions of character by casting a specific person in a specific role at a specific time, following complex cognitive patterns. From daily life to imagination, from reverie to reality, it's casting all the way down. - Mark Turner, Case Western Reserve University

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