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14th Mar 2021

One of Ireland’s biggest casting directors discusses the biggest casting call she’s ever worked on

Rory Cashin

casting call

‘People queued for six hours and had five minutes with us.’

As Ireland becomes more and more of a hot spot for international TV and movie makers to make their projects, as well as the film-makers here becoming more prolific and garnering more and more international attention, it stands to reason that all of these new movies and TV shows will need… y’know… actors.

To that end, the producers will need a casting agent to help them source that acting talent, which is where a casting director steps in, who will either already have a small pool of talent they’ll suggest to choose from, or they’ll search far and wide to potentially discover an previously-untapped acting gem.

This week, we lucky enough to chat to Louise Kiely (thanks to the folks at Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival), one of the pre-eminent casting directors in Ireland, about her hugely impressive career to date, which has seen her have a hand in the casting of some of the biggest and best-loved movies and TV shows that have been filmed in Ireland over the last few decades.

While we chatted about A LOT of stuff (more on that below), we did need to know, what was the biggest casting process she’s ever been a part of, and the project immediately came to mind for Kiely:

“When we did Sing Street, it was an open casting. Nowadays, we do things slightly differently. Even setting COVID aside, self-taping is the way most people work anyway. So if we were looking to put a band together nowadays, we would just get people in their bedrooms playing their guitars, or playing the drums, and sending us those videos.

“Which would be very efficient, but when we cast Sing Street, we had this very old-school set-up where we hired the entire building that was in Filmbase, and people queued for six hours and had five minutes [with us].

“It was intense, but it was also really amazing, because it felt like we were a part of a really exciting adventure, and the first day we did that, Mark [McKenna] and Ferdia [Walsh-Peelo] got really big parts. Yeah, that was a really special casting process.”

You can listen to the full conversation with Louise Kiely below, which also includes the moment Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones were first put in a room together while casting Normal People, casting its follow-up show Conversations With Friends, and being involved in Foundation, the most expensive production ever made here.

This interview was edited for clarity.