|Casting Bread on the Water
Too little credit, too little respect
Casting directors finally collect some kudos from the stars they helped to the top
by Alan Carter, Emmy Magazine, Feb. 2000
Alixe Gordon & Peter MacNichol
|How They Met: She saw him on stage in Crimes of the Heart, and only because a dying friend had given
her his theater ticket. "Life turns on little fateful moments," says MacNichol.[sic] "I've always believed that,
but especially from that experience. Alixe also came on the last night of the play. Six months later she was
looking to cast the integral part of Stingo in Sophie's Choice for Alan J. Pakula, with whom Gordon
colaborated on may films. "Quite simply," Gordon remembers. "Peter knocked me out."
When I First Saw You: Gordon and Pakula considered hundreds of actors for Stingo. "Everyone in L.A. and
New York and every point in between," Gordon recalls. And Pakula wasn't sold on any of them until
MacNichol crossed her mind. "And Alixe was always there to steer my name back to Alan if her was
considering anyone else," says MacNichol.
Helping Hands: Gordon (an Emmy winner for casting the TV movie Separate But Equal) say, "I loved him in
the play, but I was told that he had had a disastrous experience in a movie and didn't want to be in
another one. Ever."
Couldn't Have Done It Without You: MacNichol had quit acting "for the fifth or sixth time," when Sophie's
Choice came along. "I was fishing in Northern Minnesota, but something told me to call the agent. A little
voice in my head said 'Call.' He said they were looking for me. I went out, in the little town of Grand Rapids,
and got Sophie's Choice and read it. And on the book jacket they had a guy that looked nothing like me. He
looked like William Katt. I figured, 'Oh well. No way."
Beyond the Call of Duty: "I was hardly a name then," says MacNichol. "She took a real chance on me. You
can't forget someone who would do that for you."
Thanks for Everything: "Peter is the rare actor who has said thanks publicly or privately," says Gordon.
"Michelle Pfeiffer never did for Scarface. She was a knockout but sounded like a Valley girl. Nor did Michael
Moriarty for Glass Menagerie. They were people I fought hard for. I helped start Gene Hackman. But I don't
think thanks are mandatory." She adds, "Scott Turow said the loveliest thing. When he was on the set of
Presumed Innocent, he said I cast everyone he had in mind while writing the book."
Mutual Admiration Society: "Alixe is such a smart woman," MacNicol asserts, "and I'm impressed by
anyone who could remember a performance on a stage six months later, with all the plays she must have
attended. I'll always remember her cultured air and her gentleness." Raves Gordon, "Peter is a fine person
and a fine actor."
Where Credit is Due: Gordon loved her collaborations with Alan J. Pakula, who taught her about humility
and sharing honors. "Whenever we went to any premiere or any party, someone would compliment Alan
on the film and he would turn and say, "This is Alixe Gordon, my casting director. And she is responsible."
Also in My Corner: "When Alan was killed [in a car accident], I knew I had to retire," she says softly. "He
really was such a gentleman. I would have only gone on for him. I can't say the same for Brian DePalma.
He could be pretty rude. When I went to meet him for Scarface, I was buzzed up to his apartment and he
kept me waiting in the hallway for twenty minutes. [She laughs.] It took him forever to like me. I also
thought John Huston was difficult, but he was splendid to work with."
Give Me a Break: "Alixe Gordon is someone who will always be in my personal pantheon," says the Ally
McBeal star, "as the most influential person in my life -- without a doubt."