What a producer actually does for a given project is elusive because, in many ways, they do everything. Needless to say, a producer’s role is crucial for the actor—and vice versa. Below, six producers and industry experts alike explain precisely why.
Producers expect actors to know their industry.
“The casting directors are so important, because the producer and director really defer to them for who to bring in to read. They’re the ones on the front lines. So the best way [for actors] to interact with us is to just be in the business. Be active, be working, be exposed, and be well-read. Know what projects are being made at which studios. There’s a social mechanism in Hollywood, and to be a part of that is important.” —Tripp Vinson, producer for films including “Baywatch” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth”
Actors can (and should!) produce, too.
“That means successful actors are becoming the new triple threat: Writer, producer, actor.
“In the old days, a triple threat was a singer/dancer/actor. Agents were thrilled to sign a performer who could work all the time in one media or another. Now they’re delighted if their clients are super proactive, creating their own products. That means really owning your career. James Franco is a great example. He does EVERYTHING!” —Gwyn Gilliss, acting coach
Producers have a final say in casting decisions.
“Who books the job? Who makes the decision? Here lies the biggest misconception. Casting directors do not make the booking decisions. The producers and director narrow down their selects from the call-back and choose a first and second choice to present to their client. And then, they all make the decision who finally books the job.” —Ken Lazer, founder of Ken Lazer casting
Producers value the actor’s process.
“You have to hope it’s a sprint to the finish line but prepare yourself for the marathon. Have patience, work hard. For some, it happens instantly; for others, it happens over time. You have to own that as a part of the journey. It requires stamina and tenacity and passion for what you do. I always appreciate hard work, and every actor has a different process. I appreciate focus. I appreciate actors who work very hard to get at the truth of the character they’re playing. That speaks to me and I try to protect that process because I value the focus and intention behind it.” —Marc Platt, theater and film producer of “Wicked” on Broadway and “La La Land”
Being a successful producer isn’t always plush.
“Only 20 percent of shows produced commercially are financial successes. Co-producers only make an income if the shows they co-produce recoup their investment and see a profit. Here we thought we had made it, Tony and all, and yet we still had to tend bar!” —Rob Hinderliter, actor and theater producer (“All the Way”)
Producers expect actor decency on and off the set.
“As a producer, I’ve experienced two personalities with actors: the audition personality, and the on-set or after-booking-the-job personality. The first is a breeze to work with: friendly, approachable, polite, and professional. The second, not so much. This one, once stepping on set, somehow magically transforms into an entitled, disinterested, lazy, often rude individual who now considers it a burden to actually be there. All from the same actor. This is one of the main reasons an actor’s behavior in an audition room carries very little weight with me. So I thought I’d put together a few tips for appropriate on-set behavior for actors from the standpoint of not only a producer, but really the entire production team.” —Sevier Crespo, producer