Emmy-winning casting director Laray Mayfield has collaborated with David Fincher for over 20 years, since 1999’s Fight Club. For Mank, his acclaimed new film about the backstage drama of the writing of Orson Welles’ landmark film Citizen Kane, Mayfield details the process of filling out the cast with talented actors like Academy Award winner Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Emmy and BAFTA nominee Charles Dance, Arliss Howard, Lily Collins, Tuppence Middleton and Tom Pelphrey.
In this exclusive featurette, Mayfield talks about the importance of finding talents who could capture essence and embodiment while avoiding mimicry (“We want them to find what’s deep inside of that character and bring that out through their acting”) and the joy of weaving them together in a project 25 years in the making.
“The thing that Gary brought to the character was an empathy, a humanity,” says Mayfield, of the Oscar winner playing Citizen Kane co-writer and Academy Award winenr Herman J. Mankiewicz. Like Mank himself, Oldman had a certain charm about him in playing this role, she says.
Mayfield reveals that Charles Dance, who plays legendary newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst, was the first she reached out to when the project first started to take real shape. “William Randolph Hearst didn’t give a lot of things away, he kept things close to his chest,” she says.
For the crucial role of Marion Davies, who’s been portrayed in films before by Gretchen Mol (in 1999’s Cradle Will Rock) and Kristen Dunst (2001’s The Cat’s Meow). In choosing Amanda Seyfried, both Mayfield and David Fincher were impressed with her range and knew this was the role for her. Says Mayfield, Amanda “can telegraph the whole world to you in one single second.”
Here is Laray Mayfield talking essence and embodiment in casting David Fincher’s Mank.