CODA’s breakthrough, how the powerful cast came together

Conversations around representation were rapidly evolving by the time discussions began about the remake of the French film. La Famille Belier, which follows a deaf teenage girl whose parents are deaf who aspire to be a singer. A producer of the original film, Philippe Rousselet, holds the rights through his company and quickly noticed interest from Lionsgate executives Patrick Wachsberger to adapt a child-focused adult-deaf movie, aka “CODA,” for an American audience. But when the culture is changing, it will have to be done differently.

“French film, loved in France and very very successful — its main actors are not deaf,” says Tricia Wood, co-casting director about the results Sian Heder–Rework with navigation, CODA, with Deborah Aquila and Lisa Zagoria. “That is [before] At the height of 2015, 2016 there were conversations about authenticity. The trio worked as selection advisors at Lionsgate during that time, so they were included in Wachsberger’s. CODA project right from the start, with an opportunity — or, depending on how you see it, a challenge — to catch the moment and stage the film in a more immersive, authentic way.

“It’s something the three of us fought very, very hard, with Sian and Patrick,” Aquila said. The effort paid off: With a groundbreaking introduction to deaf actors and characters, and after four years of casting work, CODA premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim, a record-breaking acquisition from Apple, and the initial awards buzz that has maintained for nearly 11 months. (It won Best Picture this week at the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards.)

Population building begins with a clear goal: Marlee Matlin. “It’s our heart’s desire that Marlee is, of course, the mainstay of the film,” Aquila said. Oscar winner (Children are children of God), one of the world’s most famous deaf actors, eagerly signed on to play King Jackie after a meeting with Heder, who had been tapped by Wachsberger to direct. Matlin was also involved in the development, and has described in interviews resisting what she calls a studio-led effort to have a popular chamber actor play the character’s husband. you, Frank. “I put my feet down and said, ‘If you do, I just get out, that’s it,'” she said USA Today this early year. “I couldn’t see any actors wearing deaf costumes. We are not clothes to put on, we are not clothes anymore.” (Casting directors spoke on the subject when asked, with Zagoria admitting that this could be a discussion “after the French film comes out, maybe in that window when authenticity doesn’t come out.” must be paramount in everyone’s mind.”)

In any case, Matlin’s quests are shared by others involved with CODA. The film had stalled in development, and when Wachsberger left Lionsgate in 2018, he took the project with him, reviving the chance it was made. For a bit of random time, the casting directors’ company is also in the process of switching between studios, allowing them to keep looking. CODAespecially Ruby’s title character. This difficult role required a hearing teenager who could sign, sing, and believably live in the world of fishermen and harbor workers on the Gloucester Sea—an important language shift led by Heder, who grew up to visit Massachusetts, promote.

“There is an initial search for Ruby, a pause, another search for Ruby, a pause — this happens all the time, under normal circumstances you are not allowed luxuries like So about time,” said Zagoria. “Usually it’s 12 weeks or 16 weeks, but since Patrick left Lionsgate and then took the project with him, we have a second life.”

At the end of a years-long search, they came to know the young British actor Emilia Jones through her agent, with whom Aquila had lunch. (Since it had been years since the right person could be found, the casting director walked out of that meeting with one goal: “Get her on tape — today.”) . She has never sung for an audition before. She learned sign language. She practiced her American accent. “It was just an extraordinary thing to see,” Aquila said. Wood believes Jones’ age – she was in high school at the time of the audition – was the deciding factor in the success. “I think if we were [those requirements] to anyone who isn’t that age, they’re like, ‘Urinating,’ she said with a laugh.

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2021/12/awards-insider-coda-ensemble-assembled CODA’s breakthrough, how the powerful cast came together


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