The year was 1999. It was the peak of my teenage Edward Norton obsession and I read in a Vanity Fair interview that he was doing a movie directed by David Fincher based on a little-known Chuck Palahniuk book (little-known in my circle of mallrat friends anyway). Being the nerd that I am, I ran out and read Fight Club immediately. Multiple times. When the movie came out, I saw it in theaters five times. My Edward Norton obsession had officially alchemized into a Fight Club obsession. A few months later, when asked what my favorite movie was at a job interview for the very movie theatre I’d seen it in, it was obviously my answer. I got the job. At the end of my senior year, when I received a performing arts scholarship from my high school upon graduation, I didn’t buy books or school supplies for my upcoming freshman year of college. I bought a DVD player and a DVD of Fight Club (it was 2000 and DVD players were new, so this took up all of my $500 scholarship . . . I’m sorry, San Diego High . . . your faith in my financial decision making was misplaced).
So when I tell you that I’m very excited that our first guest at our new event series at the SAG Foundation Actors Center is casting director Laray Mayfield, frequent collaborator of David Fincher and casting director of Fight Club, The Social Network, House of Cards, and Gone Girl, you know that I speak true.
Here are just some brief points of interest about Laray Mayfield, apart from her impressive resume, to get you excited about our talk with her on January 31:
- She met David Fincher her very first day in LA in 1986 and worked as his assistant before moving into casting at his suggestion.
- She got her start in music video production and cast the Aerosmith video for “Janie’s Got a Gun.” (Lesley Ann Warren, you guys!)
- She’s from Tennessee and makes a concerted effort to stay connected to her family there. As she puts it, “You have to have boundaries while you’re doing this. I go home at night […] I go to Tennessee and stay with family there. […] I have to keep that part of my life very, very, very rich in order to be able to come back and give to you all what you need and you deserve for that five or three or ten or forty five minutes that you end up being in my office.”
- She sees casting as a nurturing profession.
- She likes to see as many people as she can when casting and looks at every submission she receives.
- She views each character as equally important in the casting process, regardless of their actual billing in the project.
- She’s very selective in what projects she chooses to take on.
- Her favorite kind of actors are the ones who don’t have a “plan B.”
So there you are. After reading that she cast “Janie’s Got a Gun,” I tried to figure out if Mayfield also cast “Cryin'” and “Crazy,” thereby cementing her firmly in my childhood as well as teenagehood. Guess I’ve got my question ready. Now it’s your turn to get yours ready. See you this Saturday!
Lindsay Katai is a writer/performer/debtor who has worked at Casting Networks since 2010.