In fact, even B-plus talent often joins a project before a casting director is even hired. That’s what happened with the movie Soul Men. Samuel L. Jackson and the late Bernie Mac were both attached before casting director LaTanya Potts came on board to flesh out the rest of the cast.
As for Mickey Rourke and his gritty leotard picture The Wrestler, that’s an interesting story. It highlights a muddy netherworld between auditioning for a part and getting it sight-unseen…
According to several interviews, Rourke did not have to read for his role in The Wrestler. That’s because he wasn’t really as down and out as his comeback story might have you believe. In fact, he’d been working his way back, slowly but steadily, for years; enough so that, when it came time to cast The Wrestler, Rourke was able to use past directors as references.
Another key point: Rourke may not have had to audition; director Darren Aronofsky was a fan of his work in, of all things, Angel Heart—but he did meet with Aronofsky before shooting.
And that’s what happens with many famous actors: a meeting, usually a lunch, where the director or producers can size up an actor without making the talent feel like they’re under evaluation.
“The producers will say, ‘Let’s have a lunch and make it informal,’ ” Bonnie Gillespie of Cricket Feet Casting explained. “They often don’t want to insult someone by asking them to read.”