Lynn Stalmaster

Casting Executive


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Lynn Stalmaster (1927-2021) talks about his early years as an actor and how he transitioned into becoming a casting director. He describes his early career, and casting shows including Gunsmoke, NBC Matinee Theater, The Twilight Zone, and The Untouchables. He discusses network involvement in the casting process, and the particular challenges of casting for each genre, including Westerns, comedies, dramas, and made-for-television movies. Stalmaster speaks of casting many television series in the 1960s and 1970s including Hogan’s Heroes, Welcome Back, Kotter, Hey Landlord!, as well as the made-for-television movies The Entertainers, Katherine, The Executioners Song, and Get Smart Again. He goes into detail about casting the smash hit miniseries Roots in 1977, and The Thorn Birds in 1983. He concludes with advice for both aspiring casting directors and for actors appearing in front of casting directors. Karen Herman conducted the interview On November 15, 2002 in Century City, CA.

"The director is the final voice. He must be pleased and satisfied. You're not just casting an isolated part. You have to find a blend. I don't want to use the word chemistry, but you're orchestrating an ensemble." 

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Lynn Stalmaster on his impressive career in feature films and the incredible directors with whom he worked
Lynn Stalmaster on actors in whose careers he's played an instrumental role
Lynn Stalmaster on casting Welcome Back, Kotter starring Gabe Kaplan, John Sylvester White, and John Travolta
Lynn Stalmaster on casting David E. Kelley's Chicago Hope
Lynn Stalmaster on casting and producing Footsteps starring Richard Crenna, and on why he became a producer
Lynn Stalmaster on how diversity in casting changed during his career
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his name, his early childhood and education; on his early acting experience; on becoming a casting director, and what was gratifying to him about the process
On what he learned about casting during his time as an actor; on his learning process when he became a casting director

Chapter 2

On what he looks for when casting an actor; on the relationship between the casting director and the film's director
On casting LeVar Burton in Roots; on casting John Travolta on the Welcome Back, Kotter pilot; on working along side other casting directors
On the importance of the script and sometimes taking a chance on an actor; on working with agents; on casting Gunsmoke

Chapter 3

On the process of casting Gunsmoke; on hiring casting associates; on casting NBC Matinee Theater and The Twilight Zone
On dealing with the Hollywood Blacklist as a casting director; on casting the Desilu series The Untouchables; on starting to work on feature films with directors like Robert Wise
On casting Ben Casey, The Westerner, and The New Breed; on his typical involvement with a show once it was cast; on casting Combat!

Chapter 4

On casting My Favorite Martian and Hogan's Heroes; on how influential networks were in the casting process; on casting Welcome Back, Kotter
On casting Mr. T. & Tina and Garry Marshall's Hey Landlord!; on casting the pilot of Three's Company starring John Ritter; on working with Aaron Spelling
On the particular challenges of casting movies made for television; on casting and producing Footsteps starring Richard Crenna

Chapter 5

On working with Richard Crenna on Footsteps, which he produced; on casting Sissy Spacek and Jack Lemmon in films in the 1970s and 1980s; on casting Denzel Washington on a made-for-television movie; on casting The Shadow Box with Paul Newman
On casting The Executioner's Song; on casting The Thorn Birds, Ernie Kovacs Between the Laughter, and Get Smart, Again
On casting Roots; on diversity in television

Chapter 6

On the legacy of Roots; on casting William Shatner on T.J. Hooker; on casting AfterMASH; on casting Hotel and Paper Dolls; on casting Brandon Lee in Kung Fu and casting Buck James
On casting Chicago Hope, and on working with David E. Kelley; on how the casting business has changed over time
On how he conducts his casting sessions; on what casting directors look for

Chapter 7

On his more recent casting projects; on his fondest professional memories
On the secret to working with so many varied personalities and celebrities; on advice to aspiring casting directors and actors; on career highlights and regrets; on actors whose career he has helped and how he woud like to be remembered
Shows

AfterMASH

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting AfterMASH

Ben Casey

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Ben Casey

Chicago Hope

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting David E. Kelley's Chicago Hope

Combat!

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Combat!

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Crime of the Century for HBO, for which he received an Emmy Award nomination

Entertainers, The

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting The Entertainers starring Jack Lemmon and Ishi: The Last of His Tribe

Ernie Kovacs: Between the Laughter

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Ernie Kovacs: Between the Laughter starring Jeff Goldblum

Executioner's Song, The

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting The Executioner's Song

Footsteps

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting and producing Footsteps
Lynn Stalmaster on casting and producing Footsteps starring Richard Crenna, and on why he became a producer

Get Smart

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Get Smart, Again

Gunsmoke

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Gunsmoke
Lynn Stalmaster on the process of casting Gunsmoke
Lynn Stalmaster on the challenges of casting Gunsmoke

Hey Landlord!

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Hey Landlord!

Hogan's Heroes

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Hogan's Heroes

Hotel

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Hotel and Paper Dolls

Katherine

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Katherine starring Sissy Spacek, Art Carney, and Henry Winkler

Kung Fu

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Brandon Lee in Kung Fu and casting Buck James

Letters From Frank

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Letters From Frank starring Art Carney and Maureen Stapleton, and Flesh and Blood with Denzel Washington

Mr. T. & Tina

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Mr. T. & Tina

My Favorite Martian

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting My Favorite Martian

NBC Matinee Theater

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Lynn Stalmaster on doing casting live television for NBC Matinee Theater

Paper Dolls

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Hotel and Paper Dolls

Roots

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting LeVar Burton in Roots
Lynn Stalmaster on casting Roots produced by David L. Wolper and starring LeVar Burton
Lynn Stalmaster on the process of casting Roots
Lynn Stalmaster on the legacy of Roots

T.J. Hooker

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting William Shatner on T.J Hooker

Thorn Birds, The

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting The Thorn Birds

Three's Company

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting the pilot of Three's Company

Twilight Zone, The

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Lynn Stalmaster on doing casting for The Twilight Zone

Untouchables, The

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting The Untouchables

Welcome Back, Kotter

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting John Travolta on the Welcome Back, Kotter pilot
Lynn Stalmaster on casting Welcome Back, Kotter
Lynn Stalmaster on casting adult men as high school kids on Welcome Back, Kotter, and on how age factors in casting in general

Westerner, The

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Sam Peckinpah's The Westerner starring Brian Keith
Topics

Advice

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Lynn Stalmaster on advice to aspiring casting directors
Lynn Stalmaster on advice to actors meeting with a casting director

Anthology Drama

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting live television for NBC Matinee Theater

Diversity in Television

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Lynn Stalmaster on how diversity in casting changed during his career

Historic Events and Social Change

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Lynn Stalmaster on how diversity in casting changed during his career

Hollywood Blacklist

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Lynn Stalmaster on dealing with the Hollywood Blacklist as a casting director

Industry Crossroads

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Lynn Stalmaster on dealing with the Hollywood Blacklist as a casting director

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting live television for NBC Matinee Theater

Television Industry

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Lynn Stalmaster on dealing with the Hollywood Blacklist as a casting director
Lynn Stalmaster on advice to aspiring casting directors
Lynn Stalmaster on advice to actors meeting with a casting director
Lynn Stalmaster on how the casting business has changed since he started his career

Underrepresented Voices

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Lynn Stalmaster on how diversity in casting changed during his career
Professions

Casting Director

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Lynn Stalmaster on becoming a casting director, and what was gratifying to him about the process
Lynn Stalmaster on what he learned about casting during his time as an actor
Lynn Stalmaster on his learning process when he became a casting director
Lynn Stalmaster on what he looks for in an actor's training
Lynn Stalmaster on the casting director working with the director
Lynn Stalmaster on getting to know actors
Lynn Stalmaster on experiences he's had with difficult actors, and on the importance of the script
Lynn Stalmaster on working along side other casting directors
Lynn Stalmaster on working with agents
Lynn Stalmaster on what can turn him off of an actor
Lynn Stalmaster on hiring casting associates
Lynn Stalmaster on his typical involvement with a show once it was cast
Lynn Stalmaster on how influential networks were in the casting process
Lynn Stalmaster on how the casting business has changed over time
Lynn Stalmaster on the process of casting a project, and on what a casting director looks for
Lynn Stalmaster on the secret to working with so many varied personalities and celebrities
Lynn Stalmaster on advice to aspiring casting directors
Lynn Stalmaster on advice to actors meeting with a casting director

Talent Coordinator

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Lynn Stalmaster on the particular challenges of casting movies made for television

Talent Professionals

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Lynn Stalmaster on becoming a casting director, and what was gratifying to him about the process
Lynn Stalmaster on what he learned about casting during his time as an actor
Lynn Stalmaster on his learning process when he became a casting director
Lynn Stalmaster on what he looks for in an actor's training
Lynn Stalmaster on the casting director working with the director
Lynn Stalmaster on getting to know actors
Lynn Stalmaster on experiences he's had with difficult actors, and on the importance of the script
Lynn Stalmaster on working along side other casting directors
Lynn Stalmaster on working with agents
Lynn Stalmaster on what can turn him off of an actor
Lynn Stalmaster on hiring casting associates
Lynn Stalmaster on his typical involvement with a show once it was cast
Lynn Stalmaster on how influential networks were in the casting process
Lynn Stalmaster on the particular challenges of casting movies made for television
Lynn Stalmaster on how the casting business has changed over time
Lynn Stalmaster on the process of casting a project, and on what a casting director looks for
Lynn Stalmaster on the secret to working with so many varied personalities and celebrities
Lynn Stalmaster on advice to aspiring casting directors
Lynn Stalmaster on advice to actors meeting with a casting director
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting live television for NBC Matinee Theater
Lynn Stalmaster on doing casting for The Twilight Zone

Comedy Series

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting AfterMASH

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting the Desilu series The Untouchables starring Robert Stack
Lynn Stalmaster on casting Quinn Martin's The New Breed
Lynn Stalmaster on casting William Shatner on T.J Hooker

Drama Series

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Combat!
Lynn Stalmaster on casting Brandon Lee in Kung Fu and casting Buck James

Medical Dramas

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Ben Casey
Lynn Stalmaster on casting David E. Kelley's Chicago Hope

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting and producing Footsteps, and on why he became a producer
Lynn Stalmaster on casting Katherine starring Sissy Spacek, Art Carney and Henry Winkler
Lynn Stalmaster on casting The Entertainers starring Jack Lemmon and Ishi: The Last of His Tribe
Lynn Stalmaster on casting Letters From Frank and Flesh and Blood
Lynn Stalmaster on casting Amber Waves and The Executioner's Song
Lynn Stalmaster on casting The Torn Birds starring Richard Chamberlin and Barbara Stanwyck
Lynn Stalmaster on casting Ernie Kovacs: Between the Laughter
Lynn Stalmaster on casting Roots
Lynn Stalmaster on the legacy of Roots

Western Series

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Gunsmoke
Lynn Stalmaster on casting Sam Peckinpah's The Westerner starring Brian Keith
People

Jerry Belson

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Hey Landlord! with Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson

LeVar Burton

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting LeVar Burton in Roots
Lynn Stalmaster on casting Roots produced by David L. Wolper and starring LeVar Burton

Richard Crenna

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting and producing Footsteps starring Richard Crenna

Jeff Goldblum

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Ernie Kovacs: Between the Laughter starring Jeff Goldblum

Brian Keith

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Sam Peckinpah's The Westerner starring Brian Keith

David E. Kelley

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting David E. Kelley's Chicago Hope starring Mandy Patinkin

Garry Marshall

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Hey Landlord! with Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson

Quinn Martin

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Quinn Martin's The New Breed

Pat Morita

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Mr. T. & Tina starring Pat Morita

Paul Newman

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Paul Newman in various projects

Mandy Patinkin

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting David E. Kelley's Chicago Hope starring Mandy Patinkin

Sam Peckinpah

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Sam Peckinpah's The Westerner starring Brian Keith

John Ritter

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting the pilot of Three's Company starring John Ritter

William Shatner

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting William Shatner on T.J Hooker

Aaron Spelling

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Lynn Stalmaster on working with Aaron Spelling

Robert Stack

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting the Desilu series The Untouchables starring Robert Stack

John Travolta

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting John Travolta on Welcome Back, Kotter
Lynn Stalmaster on casting Welcome Back, Kotter starring Gabe Kaplan, John Sylvester White, and John Travolta

Denzel Washington

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Flesh and Blood with Denzel Washington

Robert Wise

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Lynn Stalmaster on starting to work on feature films with directors like Robert Wise

David L. Wolper

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Lynn Stalmaster on casting Roots produced by David L. Wolper and starring LeVar Burton

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