Luis San Narciso (Mieres, 1959), artistic director of THE MEDIAPRO STUDIO, will receive the Golden Spike of Honor at the 64th Valladolid International Film Week on October 22nd. He began working in cinema in 1999 with By My Side Again, by Gracia Querejeta, and since then has worked on 27 series and around thirty movies, he is casting director for Globomedia, has worked with filmmakers including Pedro Almodóvar and Alejandro Amenábar, and is well-known to have discovered many stars. He has just finished shooting on Woody Allen’s latest film, which has been given the provisional title, Rifkin’s Festival.
“I’m all for rigor, study and preparation”
Have you prepared your speech for when you collect the prize?
I’ll be very concise, because I’m a shy guy and public exposure takes a lot out of me.
How would you describe the work of a casting director?
I always feel that it closely resembles when you’re reading a novel and start putting a face to the names, the characters in this case. It’s a job similar to dreaming. You have to surprise the viewer and mull things over a lot.
Is it easier to cast a drama than a comedy?
Putting faces on a comedy script is very complicated. And, in addition, not all of our artists are like Carmen Machi, who does drama very well, and comedy excellently. Carmen is our Meryl Streep.
When you proposed Belen Rueda for The Sea Inside (2004), I guess not everyone accepted it at first. What did you see in her?
I wanted a beautiful woman who transmitted honesty when she spoke, and Belen came to mind. Amenábar looked at me and said: “Let’s give it a go” The rest of the industry was terrified!
Are you a first impression casting director or do you change your mind?
There’s a lot of opinion changing! Scripts have to be read very thoroughly, and you have to consult your lists of actors and actresses. Sometimes I know who’s right for the role immediately, and other times I do screen test after screen test. Of course, it’s essential to have the director next to you, explaining exactly what they’re looking for.
If a YouTuber or an influencer said they wanted to devote themselves to acting, are you one of those who would be horrified? Or are you more a ‘why the heck not’ type of person?
I wouldn’t rule it out. This is a profession open to anyone who knows how to convey emotions. What I do recommend is that people prepare themselves, that they train as actors. In the past there was the school which was second-to-none, which was the school of the two theater performances daily, which produced actors like the Gutierrez Caba family and Amparo Baró. I’m all for rigor, study and preparation.
Does a filmmaker like Pedro Almodóvar, who seems to have his cast so clear, accept suggestions?
Smart directors always accept suggestions. Some filmmakers go to the theater a lot and are well-trained and, in contrast, others are quite clueless. I saw Carmen Machi in theater, and Blanca Portillo as well.
I know this is a complex and unfair question to ask with a career like you’ve had, but, if you had to choose five casts that you are especially proud of, what would you say?
In films, I’d say, The Sea Inside, Mondays in The Sun, by Fernando León de Aranoa, and Volver, by Almodóvar. In series, I am left with Aída and Locked Up.
By the way, would you cast Rosalia in a movie role? Maybe to play character with a more principal role than she had with her appearance in Almodóvar’s latest movie, Pain and Glory.
Rosalía would have to do a screen test, but, from the outset, she’s already a woman who conveys emotion and I find her to be a fascinating artist.
Any final message for the industry?
Yes. From the position I occupy within the industry, I’d like to suggest that we pay more attention to, look after and bolster the relationship between cast members and the director and producer. And also, screen tests should be carried out in the most professional and best manner possible.