Does it count as discovering someone if you cast her in a failed pilot before her career took off? If so, than my partner and I discovered Kat Dennings.
Kat currently stars in the teen comedy NICK & NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST that opened this weekend. It has to do better than the pilot of SNOBS. That was an ill-fated pilot we did for Fox in 2003.
The premise was a family of snobs… but they had no money. They lived way above their means in a crappy tract house in San Mateo. Kat was the daughter. Ironically, the actor we tried to get to play her brother was Michael Cera (this was pre ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT) who is now her love interest in NICK & NORAH’S.
Finding a teenage girl who could play attitude and intensity but was real and funny was an almost impossible challenge. Most actresses are not that skilled at that age. Not to say that they won’t grow and blossom but in most cases you could “see them acting”. They didn’t just assume the character. Not Kat. She walked in, read the part, and from the first moment we knew – “That’s the girl!” She was hilarious, she was totally believable in a part that was a real stretch, and she was special.
In a fairly unheard of move, we brought no second choice to the network for approval. Usually they insist. And if you don’t bring them options they generally don’t approve the actor just for spite. But not this time. Everyone in the room instantly saw what we saw and she was enthusiastically approved.
I saw her in 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN and thought she stole the movie. You’re probably saying, “Really? She was in that?” Yes, she was Catherine Keener’s daughter and now that you know don’t you agree her performance was incredibly memorable?
I hope to work with Kat again someday. Maybe on another pilot, although the difference will be this time it’ll be her project and I have to get approved by the network.
Best of luck to NICK & NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST.