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Casting The Characters

Finding the lead actress to play Violet Sanford was no easy task. The filmmakers went on a worldwide search to find just the right young lady, combing 20 major cities throughout the United States and Canada with open casting calls, as well as accepting tapes from actresses and singers from as far away as Scotland.

Casting director Bonnie Timmermann believed it was important to open the search as wide as possible. "I wanted to open casting for everyone," she says. "It was important to give actresses who didn't have representation a chance to read for us. It was amazing how many videotapes came in. We followed the same process when we did ‘Dangerous Minds' and had the most wonderful open calls. I wish we could do more of this because there are so many talented people out there who simply don't have an opportunity to be seen."

"We left no stone unturned in finding the perfect girl," says director McNally. "She had to have that elusive something. Jerry calls it ‘movie star quality.'"

Assembling the finest cast possible is always of the utmost importance to Bruckheimer. In the press release announcing the casting call the producer was quoted as saying "Whether we cast seasoned professionals with star power or newcomers who are just breaking through, we always look for the best. It's particularly rewarding, not to mention fun, to discover new talent. We did it with Jennifer Beals in ‘Flashdance;' we made Tom Cruise a household name in ‘Top Gun;' and we continue to introduce up-and-comers in each and every film we produce. This search simply continues the tradition."

After looking at thousands of young hopefuls, the filmmakers pronounced Piper Perabo the lucky winner of the part. A young actress, who had recently completed small parts in the films "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" and "White Boys," she was unprepared for the whirlwind she was about to enter.

Only weeks before production began, Perabo was whisking back and forth between Los Angeles and New York for rehearsals, costume fittings, make-up and hair tests, voice coaching and recording sessions, lessons in guitar, piano, dance and even bartending, plus workout sessions. The pace never let up and continued during production. Perabo was always the consummate professional, endearing herself to the crew and filmmakers alike.

"Piper worked very hard," notes Bruckheimer. "It's a tremendous responsibility, especially for someone so young, to carry a motion picture. I think she felt that responsibility deeply and embraced the challenge. Her work ethic and the sense of fun she brought to the set each day were inspiring to everyone."

"Piper had a real point of view about her character," says McNally. "She was prepared and thought about it. She also had an ability to read the words off the page and I believed them. She was perfect, even in some of her imperfections. She's soft and pretty, but she's not afraid to be a little wacky and funny. I loved the contrast. She's very watchable."

"The first time I read the script, I was amazed because there were so many similarities between Violet and me," says Perabo. "I grew up in New Jersey and moved to New York and worked in a bar and then I got my first acting job. Violet comes from a quiet town and feels she needs to get out and experience life, which she certainly does in her first couple of days in the city.

"She has a close relationship with her father and her friends," Perabo<

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