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Not necessarily a challenge, per se, but for a comedy of this scope, having essentially three protagonists isn't exactly common. "Usually you're looking at two people that you need to find some chemistry with," said Hoberman. "And we had a trio that we had to find chemistry with." Though it may seem like a broad generalization about the casting of any film, Lucas and Moore were intent on casting actors whose real personalities closely resembled those of their leads. This way, they could hedge their bets, in a sense, against any unforeseen shortcomings they may have as newbie helmers. "Director-proof," as Lucas puts it. "We thought we were going to suck as directors," laughed Moore. "And so we better cast people who are doing it if we don't know how to guide them into it." By all accounts, the first-timers ended up doing just fine, which likely came as a surprise only to them.
It was important to the filmmakers to cast actors who weren't immediately recognizable in the lead roles. That way, it would allow the audience to immerse themselves in the journey of the narrative without any preconceived notions of those they've been watching. "Once you're finished seeing this movie, you want to feel like you had a college experience," said Hoberman. "So anybody who had any baggage or any recognizability - and we had a lot of people that were interested in coming aboard - we kind of rejected."
When Miles Teller arrived at his audition, he was supposed to read for the role of Casey... but he had other plans. After reading through the script, Miles knew he was destined to play Miller "one hundred percent." Teller brazenly announced he'd be reading for Miller instead of Casey, then proceeded to impress everyone in the room with his take on the character. "Casting's monotonous, certainly when you're going over the same scene time and time again," said Lieberman. "But until that person walks in the door that nails it and then it's not monotonous and you find it. And when Miles walked in the door and gave his reading, we said, 'Well, there's our Miller.'" Moore and Lucas knew it too. "Yeah. He's the guy," they both said over one another.
In the same sense that Teller was Miller, Skylar Astin sees a lot of his own attributes in Casey. The role requires an interesting balancing act. Not only does Casey require personality traits similar to Miller, as to make their friendship believable, but has to play foil to his friend as well; informing a quality of responsibility and restraint in contrast to Miller's brash party-animal. "I definitely like to have a good time," said Astin. "[But] I definitely do have an "off" switch. I know when it's like, 'The night's over, dude. We got to go home.'" Astin particularly enjoyed contributing his own idiosyncrasies in helping flesh-out the character from the page to the screen. "On paper, Casey was very much what, what it is turning out to be, but there are elements of myself that I also bring to Casey, so it becomes more a part of you."
How did Justin Chon get the part of Jeff Chang? "The old-fashioned way. I auditioned," he quipped. After sending in an audition tape, Chon was called back a few more times, ultimately leading up to a reading to test his chemistry with Skylar and Miles. The result was fantastic; just what everyone was looking for. "We had instant chemistry," said Chon. "I mean, right off the bat we were so comfortable with each other and it didn't take us any time at all to become really good friends... Jon and Scott: they didn't compromise on the casting. They really made sure that they cast the people right for the job and we had instant chemistry." For Justin, the opportunity to work with Jon Lucas and Scott Moore added to his excitement. "I was completely floored because they're great writers and to be in their directorial debut was, you know, totally an honor."
Rounding out the movie's major players is Sarah Wright in the role of Nicole, Casey's love interest. Moore and Lucas really liked the "lighthearted, carefree spirit" she brought to the part, but also had the foresight to adjust the casting of Randy, Nicole's boyfriend, based on what Sarah brings to the table. It had to be believable that both Randy and Casey could be romantically interesting to Nicole, and the part of Randy, as written, seemed anything but that once the casting process began. "Randy was written to be a little bit like this little dude, like this little angry pocket-rocket guy," said Lucas. "And then once, once she was cast, you sort of just couldn't buy [her interest]." Once they found Jonathan Keltz to play Nicole's cheerleader-boyfriend, all their concerns were diffused.
Nicole's relationship with Casey played a part in attracting Sarah to the project. "I think Nicole has a sort of a free spirit," said Wright. "And Casey, on the other hand, he has like this one goal and he has blinders on an... he is going to be this corporate finance guy and he's going to get there through, you know, A, B, C and D. And he doesn't really want to mess that up."
Astin agrees. "When Casey and Nicole first meet, it's not like that crazy star-crossed moment. It's a little bit lighter than that. I think the thing that really drives it home with that relationship, in the beginning, is the fact that she has a great sense of humor." The story's down-to-earth, relatable situations really resonated with her as well. "At the heart of the movie is a story about friendship and how, you know, you kind of disconnect from people in life and there's certain friends that you have such a strong bond with, when you reconnect with them again, it's all there and it hasn't gone away."
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