A Star is Found Review
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If an actor gives a good performance in a film, it might earn him a Golden Globe or an Oscar. But if he’s totally wrong for the part—and his performance just doesn’t work—it could do serious damage both to his career and to the movie’s box office figures. Rarely, however, does the average moviegoer take the time to think about casting—about the process of finding Humphrey Bogart to play Rick in Casablanca or choosing a has-been like John Travolta to play Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction.

For more than twenty-five years, beginning at Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Studios, Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins have been working with Hollywood’s biggest names to find just the right person for every last role in some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters. And in A Star is Found: Our Adventures Casting Some of Hollywood’s Biggest Movies, Hirshenson and Jenkins share their stories and explain the casting process—whether it’s casting a Star to play the leading role or casting an Unknown for a small part with just one line. They talk about the ones that worked out and the ones that got away, and they share their challenges and their triumphs—as well as plenty of advice for Star hopefuls.

Since the authors often speak directly to actors, A Star is Found is a great book for anyone who’s interested in trying to make it in Hollywood. They’re kind and encouraging—but they’re also honest and straightforward. For those of us who prefer to stay on the other side of the Big Screen, A Star is Found is an informative read. It’ll open your eyes and teach you more about the work that goes into your favorite movies.

A Star is Found isn’t, however, the most coherent of books. In an attempt to explain different parts of the process in different chapters of the book, the authors rarely tell a story all at once. Instead, you’ll get part of the story in one chapter and another part later on—and sometimes it’s a challenge to try to think back fifty pages and remember where the story left off.

The authors also tend to do plenty of name-dropping. While that’s to be expected, it’s also somewhat distracting, since they often talk about people in passing—and only by their first name. So you’ll often find yourself stopping to remember that when they talk about “Ron,” it’s Ron Howard, and when they talk about “Rob,” it’s Rob Reiner. Unless you, too, hang out with Ron and Rob, it’s not always easy to keep track of all of the names and stories.

If you’re looking for a dishy collection of anecdotes about your favorite stars and your favorite movies, this isn’t exactly it—unfortunately, the tell-all will have to wait until the authors have retired. But, until then, A Star is Found is a great behind-the-scenes book for film buffs. I guarantee that, after reading it, you’ll definitely pay closer attention to casting choices.

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