“We are very mindful of does this person have the range, the talent, the charisma, the skill, the humor to be able to interact on this larger campus in the MCU as a whole and potentially hold their own against anybody they could meet.” – Casting Director Sarah Finn
Every since 2008’s Iron Man, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been regularly won over by the casting of the various heroes, villains, and supporting players in the MCU. Since that very first film in the ongoing saga, Casting Society of America Award-winning casting director Sarah Finn has played a major role in casting the media franchise. In conversation with Awards Daily, Finn spoke about casting the popular Disney+ MCU series and why actors like Kathryn Hahn and Wyatt Russell were ideal choices for their memorable roles.
Finn points out that the casting team considers a number of important aspects when casting a particular character. She explains, “What we do is I try to learn everything I can about the character and the director’s vision for the film or the project. That is the immediate task and the immediate goal. We’re always looking. We’re always casting as wide a net as possible. As we’re identifying who might be the candidates, we are very mindful of does this person have the range, the talent, the charisma, the skill, the humor to be able to interact on this larger campus in the MCU as a whole and potentially hold their own against anybody they could meet.”
In addition, the casting decisions also need to reflect the tone of the particular project. For instance, Finn points out that the actors cast in WandaVision had to work in context of sitcom performances. She continues, “It really was about the skill and dexterity of the actors… It was really finding actors who had the flexibility and range to be able to kind of fluidly move from era to era of that classic sitcom format. Obviously having Lizzie Olsen and Paul Bettany set the bar so high that it became a fun challenge. It was much more about the actor’s ability than how they looked. It was more about tone and style of the actor than having a certain look.”
For example, one of the highest-praised casting moves for WandaVision was actress Kathryn Hahn, who portrays Agnes. Finn explains that her comedic persona made her a perfect choice to hide Agnes’ true intentions:
“I had known Kathryn a long time and seen a lot of her work, which gave me a very good sense of her incredible range. She’s one of those rare performers who is completely masterful at both comedy and drama. She can do anything. So to have somebody with those kind of acting chops really and to give them a part like this is very exciting. I also think that something else that we knew we would have with Kathryn is we were really hoping to kind of keep her secret, where this character was going to go. I think that she so perfectly fit in as the nosy neighbor, that helped with the mystery. It helped having the story unfold that the audience didn’t necessarily presuppose anything when they saw Kathryn. They just really weren’t entertained by her. They really enjoyed her and were able to follow along. I think that really helped the show make the twist that it did and a turn to a much darker, more complex place because she really was able to carry that.”
For the follow-up Disney+ MCU series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Finn cast actor Wyatt Russell to portray the new Captain America, John Walker. Finn explains why Russell — who had previously auditioned to play Captain America in Captain America: The First Avenger — was now the perfect fit to play this rogue version of the hero:
“So with Wyatt, one of the things we were looking at was somebody who, in some ways, resembles Captain America, right? The audience can kind of understand that he’s a war hero and he looks like him. Actually, Wyatt’s first audition ever was for Captain America way back when. He’s sort of outwardly fit, but in also knowing Wyatt as an actor, I knew he would be able to bring the complexity, bring the strength and more of the darker, more potent aspects of the character that were simmering right under the surface. I thought he’d have the humor to kind of make that make that play for the relationship with Bucky and Sam. I knew he could take the character in a whole other direction and hopefully set him up for the arc of potential redemption.”