Archive for the ‘Deedee Rickets’ Category

The Search for Mongolian Extras

March 5, 2009

Casting director DeeDee Ricketts is on the move again, this time in Northern Virginia, as she searches for potential citizens of the Earth Kingdom!

“We’ll make you look like a warrior,” the casting director with dirty-blond curls tells the boy. She holds up a camera and says, “Now don’t smile.”

“Smile!” calls the boy’s father, who was born in Ulan Bator.

“No, he shouldn’t smile,” a casting assistant tells him. “They don’t like people to smile because it’s not how you really look.”

And what do Earth Kingdom citizens look like?

Like they’re from Mongolia. Or Cambodia or Laos. Something like that. Exotically Asian, at least. Like they could be an extra in a movie that’s based on a series that’s inspired by many Eastern traditions, from Japanese anime and Tibetan Buddhism to kung fu cinema and yoga. “Night doesn’t know what it is he wants, but he’ll know it when he sees it,” says DeeDee Ricketts, the casting director.

Ricketts also responds to the allegations of whitewashing the main cast.

“When you take a beloved story that has a fan base, you’ll never be able to make everyone happy,” says Ricketts, the casting director, who was not involved with the casting of principal roles. “There’s been some talk that we’re casting authentic Asians as a response to the backlash, which is totally wrong because our world is multi-ethnic and the ‘Avatar’ world will be multi-ethnic.'”

It’s also interesting to see the Post also got reactions from some of the actors at the casting call on the controversy.

“Yeah, I read about the controversy,” says Melanie Thong, 24, of Annandale. “I mean, Jesse McCartney? If it’s an Asian movie, you should have an Asian cast.”

“If you watch the show, all of them are our skin color,” says Liso Neou, 23, of Tysons.

“You can’t even name five Asian actors,” says Thong, rhetorically.

“Chow Yun-Fat . . . Jackie Chan . . . Jet Li . . . ” says Neou, and stops.

“Kids need to know there’s more diverse actors out there,” Thong says, her point made.

For more, visit the Washington Post.


Open Casting Call in Philly!!

January 24, 2009

So you think you have what it takes to be a part of the lovely scenery in The Last Airbender? Well folks, if you’re not white, here’s your chance!

Aspiring actors on campus will have a chance to show off their Hollywood skills this weekend.

Tomorrow there will be a general open casting call for extras in the latest M. Night Shyamalan movie, The Last Airbender.

Shyamalan, a Philadelphia native, has directed a number of box-office hits, including The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and The Happening.

His newest movie will be a live-action version of the Nickelodeon fantasy TV show Avatar. The casting call will be held at Wachovia Spectrum’s Bullies Restaurant, located at 3601 S. Broad Street, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Deedee Rickets, the casting director for the film, said she is looking to cast men and women ages 18 to 65 and children ages six to 15. Casting officials are seeking candidates with military or martial arts experience, athletes, gymnasts and people of various races and cultures.

“We want you to dress in traditional cultural ethnic attire,” she said. “If you’re Korean, wear a kimono. If you’re from Belgium, wear lederhosen.”

Another way to stand out is to demonstrate skills such as basket weaving, hair braiding, making clay pots, puppeteering, knitting, looming – “any artisan craft,” Rickets said.

She said the set and cast will reflect the alternate world of the film, and not the streets of Philadelphia.

People auditioning do not need to bring pictures or resumes because pictures will be taken at the casting call. Those unable to attend can e-mail

An additional casting call will take place on Feb. 7, but details have not yet been determined.

Once Rickets sees all of the pictures, she will make a collage to present to Shyamalan. There are also possible upgrades for speaking parts or other roles “outside the realm of extras.”

All positions are paid, and experienced extras will receive higher payment.

Positions range in time commitment – shooting begins in mid-March and ends in July. A role could involve being on set for three weeks, then having a break, and then resuming for another three weeks. Alternatively, one could be on set for just a few days.

And then there are the perks of being on the set of a major film – the cast includes Jesse McCartney and Twilight’s Jack Rathbone. The movie is slated to come out in the summer of 2010.

The lead role is being played by up-and-comer Noah Ringer.

Recently, Rickets has worked on the sets of Tropic Thunder and Charlie Wilson’s War.

“All are encouraged to come out and see what’s going on,” Rackets said.

So kimono’s are traditional Korean attire, huh? Mmmkay, it seems like they’re trying to treat an infected laceration with a band-aid now. The outcry over the “whitewashing” of the main cast has clearly reached the ears of the casting director and Mr. Shyamalan. Though I fear it might be too little, too late as far as those offended are concerned. I admit that it’s going to be a little awkward to see a white Gaang mixing it up with the rest of the ethnically diversified population, who won’t be white.