“There is no perfect look, really. It’s about finding the spirit of the character in different actors” – Tina Fey
Tina Fey has not only had to audition for roles, but she’s been on the other side of the table and had actors audition for her. Most recently, Fey was casting actors for the Broadway production of Mean Girls, which has become a hit musical since opening last April. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter about Mean Girls, Fey talks about the casting process and what she looked for in the Tony and Drama Desk nominated cast.
Fey explains that it was important to her to feature a diverse cast in Mean Girls. She explains, “We strived for more inclusivity, not just in the ensemble, but with the principals. We were very excited to find Ashley Park to play Gretchen because she’s so skilled and emotionally three-dimensional in that part. I also felt a palpable relief that we all got the added benefit of her being an Asian actor and adding diversity to our show.”
With that said, Fey still needed to find actors who could play their parts effectively, which was difficult in a production made up of almost entirely all young actors. She says, “Trying to find people who could really do everything. Almost everybody has to be able to dance in our show, and everyone has to be able to sing. Most importantly, they have to be able to handle a joke. And in some actors, that’s the hardest thing to find because kids grow up learning to sing and dance, but it’s tough to teach someone how to be funny.”
Curiously, Fey reveals that she a difficult casting decision when casting the original Broadway cast for the same roles that she had faced a difficult casting decision when working on the original film. She says, “A very similar thing happened in the casting of Mean Girls on Broadway. We got down to the wire and it was hard to decipher who would play each of the Plastics because everyone was just so talented and capable. With the movie, we weren’t sure if Amanda Seyfried was going to be Regina or if she was going to be Karen. The same thing happened with Taylor Louderman, who plays Regina, and Kate Rockwell, who plays Karen, in the musical.”
Of course, for some diehard fans of the film it would be difficult for them to accept new faces in familiar roles. Fey understands that, but points out, “There is no perfect look, really. It’s about finding the spirit of the character in different actors. A good casting director can identify when a person might look completely different but embodies exactly what you’re looking for.”