I am so happy we have found Zack Bennett to play the lead role of Will. Special thanks to Gary Cairns for the introduction. Zack is 19, and from what I can tell, some sort of prodigy. He is incredibly natural - a completely unselfconscious actor. When he delivers lines, I see the thought process in his eyes, I see the wheels turning in his mind. He seems to be coming up with his lines extemporaneously, and only in retrospect do I realize that I wrote what's coming out of his mouth. We're incredibly lucky to have him onboard.
(Zack with beard, Jon without)
I auditioned Zack for the role of "God," a random Los Angeles hipster who crashes the party. Zack's first cold read was magnificent, and in his second try, I noticed he wasn't even looking at the page anymore. He'd already memorized it. Keeping my face calm, I politely asked him to read for the lead role of Will.
And in a cold reading, with no preparation, Zack knocked it out of the park.
Zack's Call Back
I wanted to give the producers the chance to say "yes" to Zack as well. So I brought him in for a call back. I also wanted to see how Valerie worked with him, and give her a voice in who we cast for the lead.
Zack and Val were so relaxed together. As I filmed their audition, I gradually let it devolve into actor exercises because it was so much fun to work with them. I had them improvise their own conversation and gradually segue into their scene once they were comfortable. This is how the camera will find them when we shoot. They played off each other wonderfully.
Zack is so unselfconscious he will lean his head back and close his eyes for half a scene. He will make choices so human that it seems I've never seen them on camera before.
I was hoping to cast a young Woody Allen, someone with big vocal arcs, strong dialog punches and fast comedic delivery. But in Zack I feel we've found something different, more dramatic, and possibly, new.