Posted on Monday, March 23rd, 2015 by Germain Lussier
There are less than 24 hours until the big event and Captain America is out. The text comes in at 11:20 p.m. on Wednesday March 18. For the past two weeks, I’ve been talking regularly to writer/director Jason Reitman about the latest installment in his Live Read series, the ongoing set of performances at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in which he assembles famous casts to read famous scripts from famous movies as a one-night only event. We’ve been covering them for a long time. For the final one of this season, I wanted to know how it was done.
This Live Read was to be Dazed and Confused by Richard Linklater, a sprawling coming of age film with a huge cast of characters, many of whom have become iconic for moviegoers. The most iconic is Wooderson, played by Matthew McConaughey. It’s a small role, and one that Reitman thought he had cast months before the event.
Reitman was at the 87th Annual Academy Awards back in February representing Whiplash, a Best Picture nominee he produced. There he ran into Captain American actor Chris Evans and asked him if he wanted to read the role of Wooderson. Evans enthusiastically agreed and was on board… until less than 24 hours before the event, when he had to drop out. “He had a sincere personal reason to pull out,” Reitman writes via text. “He’s an incredibly decent and lovely guy.” Nevertheless, Captain America has caused a bit of a problem.
Below, find out both how that turned out and the entire making of story behind the Jason Reitman Live Read of Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused Live Read.
March 4, 2015 – 15 days until showtime:
Jason Reitman is incredibly busy working on Casual, a TV show he’s producing for Hulu, and for which he’s directing the pilot. Because of that, the Live Read is not a priority at the moment. He does have that one big piece locked in, though: Chris Evans.
Having even that one piece set at this stage is more than Reitman has had at similar points for other reads. The Live Read, presented by Film Independent at LACMA, has been going on since October 2011. Nearly two dozen reads later, the director knows better than to worry just yet. He’s going to spend the next few days sending emails and starting to pull in his cast.
March 9, 2015 – 10 days until showtime:
“I’m about 30% there.” Reitman has locked in five more actors for the read: Eric Andre, Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas and Mae Whitman. Each has done at least one Live Read in the past. While Reitman loves to bring in new people and feature some big surprises, he also knows these versatile actors who live in the area can do anything, even if the audience doesn’t expect it. “There’s always the ones you want to lock in who you think would be a perfect match,” he says. “But by people being unavailable it forces you to stretch your mind and you end up coming up with really extreme ideas.”
With the Casual pilot still a priority, Reitman has been chipping away at casting whenever he has a few minutes. He tried to get Bill Burr and Sarah Silverman for roles, but both were unavailable. Jay Baruchel and Olivia Wilde were unavailable, too, and he’s waiting for a call back from an agent who represents three actors he’s interested in. “If I know them it’s easy,” he says. “I just send an email. If I don’t, I have to go through the agent. It’s weird how many hours actually go into the casting. It seems like I just make a few calls and am like ‘Let’s do this’ but it’s weeks of actually putting it together.” In this case, the agent will never call Reitman back.
Reitman also contacted Richard Linklater about the event. “I reached out to Richard and unfortunately he can’t make it,” Reitman said. “He’s out there finishing the new movie in Austin so he not going to be able to make it out. But he knew exactly what the Read was, he was excited about it and he was bummed he couldn’t go.”
Unlike most Live Reads, at this point Reitman feels he’s going to be a little more loose. “Usually I say ‘I’m gonna cast this actor for this role, this actor for this role.’ This is the first time I’m like, ‘I’m putting together a great ensemble and then I’m going to figure it all out.'”
The conversation ends with Reitman looking more into the Ghostbusters news involving his father, Ivan Reitman. Jason has been so busy, he had no idea about it until I brought it up.