I recently got the chance to talk to actress and casting director Julianne Gabert about her life in the industry. Here, Julianne talks about her role in new film ‘Untitled’, what it’s like working with the cast and crew of online sensation ‘Smosh’ and what’s coming up for her in the future…
Hey Julianne. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. Your new film, simply called ‘Untitled’ – is out in selected UK cinemas right now. What’s the general premise around the film?
“Untitled” is about a musician named Angelica Degrassi, who has a following but hasn’t hit it big yet. She is struggling with a recent death in her life. She has a huge “make it or break it” type performance coming up and the film follows her and the decisions she makes.
Tell us a bit about your character in the film…
I play Sydney, Angelica’s assistant who aspires to be more than just “Angelica’s right hand”. She’s hard-working, high-strung and doesn’t have social graces.
What made you want to become involved in the project in the first place?
When I read the script, I was intrigued by the focus it had on the music industry. It’s not a world that I’m very familiar with, but there are some similarities to film that I found relatable. When I re-read it to gain better knowledge of the Sydney character, I thought to myself: “I feel like Tony [Anthony D’Juan, director/writer] is making fun of me on paper.” I suppose imitation is the highest form of flattery. I’m a lot like this character; kind of awkward but very ambitious.
What was it like working with the cast and crew?
Tony directed, wrote, shot – heck I think he was handling sound too! So watching him in action is inspiring. His time was spread so thin between all that, sometimes I’d feel like I was in the way if I’d ask questions about the scene and the character. He always made sure he communicated with us well though, even if was doing five different things at once. He’d make it happen. The other crew and cast were all very chill. I think I had fries and cocktail with everyone when we shot the Shady Lady (a bar location) on set. It was that chill. Nanci Zoppi, who played Angelica, is a doll, has a beautiful voice, and she’s an itty bitty shrimp like me!
The film has a huge thing about music to it – what are you currently listening to?
I love Mark Ronson, and Maximum Ballon’s latest albums. I’m also dig Lykke Li, Uffie, SSQ and Girl Talk. I’m good turning the radio to any old skool r&b station. Dolly Parton is everything I would want to be as a musician though. Her music is timeless, she writes and produces, and she has a theme park inspired by herself. I’m also currently obsessed with “Me Voy a Morir de Amor” by Albert Iglesias. I first heard the song on an episode of “Mad Men”. It’s just beautiful. Oh, and Britney Spears.
Let’s talk a bit about you Julianne. We should point out that ‘Untitled’ might be your last role as an actress and right now your currently focusing on your casting business. What made you want to become part of the industry in the first place?
I can’t truthfully say “Untitled” might be my last. Knowing me, in three years the acting bug may bite me again and I’ll say “I’m not producing anymore, just acting”. Like every other 25-year-old American, I’m still trying to figure out where I want to be in 10 years. I love the casting process because I basically get to open a door for someone. It’s fun to be that person. What separates me from a lot of casting directors is that I love seeing talent play “against type”. I think the film “Precious” was brilliant casting. Who would have ever thought Mo’Nique, a VH1 reality host, could give such a haunting performance? And Mariah Carey? Her last film was “Glitter” (my guilty pleasure!) and her tears brought tears out of me. I love being able to bring in an actor who may not ideally fit the role, and show other people that they can do more. At one point, I was working as a coordinator and PA on sets in between acting. Producers knew I was in touch with a lot of local talent, so they would have me promote their projects to them and help them book actors. I was also gaining casting experience by producing my own films. Finally, Ryan Todd, a producer who I work with on ‘Smosh‘, was the one that said: “You really should stop ‘helping’ people and make this your own business”. He was right.
If I came to you and I said, “Hey Julianne, I want to audition for your new project” – what are the key essentials you’d be looking for in me?
A stellar performance and an ability to be directed are key. Nothing can top that, but proper “set-iquette” goes a long way. Be on time. Bring your headshot and resume stapled together. Uses proper resume format. Understand improv and it’s boundaries. Be nice, shake my hand and smile to me at the end of it.
What does a Julianne Gabert day usually consist of?
There’s a lot of running around, a lot of digging through headshots, communication with producers, hopefully a 30 minute work out, a snuggle session with my dog Cisco Kid and hopefully a glass of wine. Then I’m hitting the road to dreamland.
You’ve acted and been a casting director in ‘Smosh’ – (I won’t mention anything about your involvement in the 2 Girls 1 Cup spoof)…
How the heck could I hide from a “2 Girls, 1 Cup” spoof? Millions will see it! My grandkids may look me up some day and see it. Actually, “2 Girls, 1 Cup” will probably be “tame” by then.
Talking about ‘Smosh’ – do you think internet web series’ create problems for casting directors or is it to you just another usual day at the office?
‘Smosh’ averages at about 2-3 million views per weekly webisode. That’s more that some American prime-time network shows. If that many people get to see my weekly casting decisions, I’m stoked. I think ’Smosh’ is on the brink of how entertainment will be run in the next 10 or even 20 years. They’re ahead of their time, and I’m proud to be a part of that. The only challenge it can pose is the “college humor” as I like to call it. Some actors don’t want to do that kind of humor. That being said, since ’Smosh’ airs on You Tube, we’re not allowed to have F-bombs or nudity. It’s quite tame compared to some film scripts I’ve read. Looking through past guest stars, I’m always stoked to see who’s come out. The talent we’ve had on the show has been so diverse, we’ve had comedians, high fashion published models, “serious actor” types – even Lou Ferrigno was in one.
What is your favourite ‘Smosh’ episode? Can be one you’ve starred in…
That is really tough. It’s not their most popular, but “Anthony Gets Engaged” is probably high on the list for me. It was just so odd that I loved it instantly. “WTF I’m Old” is also great. Tom Hart as an old version of Ian, complete with Ian doing voice-overs on him was just so funny to me. “I’m Naked” was also fun to shoot. I think I have some incriminating photos of Anthony from that one…
What’s coming up for you in 2011? I understand you have a feature called ‘Bloodline’ coming out?
Yes, “Bloodline” was a feature film that I co-produced (managed) and cast last year. It actually premieres next week. I can’t wait to put on a pretty dress and see everyone again. It’s a drama filled thriller that I think will appeal to younger audiences, especially the “Twilight” fans. There’s a heavy romance plot that I think the girls will love. A couple of cute guys with no shirts on. That always helps. Grainger Hines, who was on “True Blood” as the wolf leader is also in it. His voice makes me shiver when I watch him. But he really is the sweetest man, not someone you’d normally bring in to play a questionable, deranged park ranger. Other than that, another feature I cast, called “One Shot” will be coming out in select cinemas soon. The film is about an eco-terrorist who kidnaps an oil tycoon after a disaster hits the coast. Sound familiar? I’m excited for that one because casting it was a challenge. The film was all shot in one shot – hence the title. Finding talent who can nail it in one take is brutal, but I lucked out, and I can’t wait to see the results.
Of course, ‘Smosh’ airs every week on youtube.com/smosh and smosh.com. Check it out! – my website is: http://juliannegabertcasting.com
Thanks for the interview!