Delaware native Paul Schnee
has cast actors such as Jennifer Lawrence. ?
recalls auditioning "about 75 actresses" for the lead in the gritty 2010 movie "Winter's Bone.
"It was important to get the right person for the role," says Schnee
"I'm sure she
doesn't have to audition anymore," says Schnee
The low-budget "Winter's Bone" remains Schnee's favorite movie among the scores he
has worked on.
"It was a very rare animal in that the money was all in place, so we could cast anyone we wanted," says Schnee
"A byproduct was that it made Jennifer famous, but it was a movie that didn't need stars."
At the time of "Winter's Bone," Schnee had been a casting director for only six years and had formed Barden/Schnee Casting with Kerry Barden just two years prior.
Both partners work on each picture, with one taking the lead.
has cast such major movies as "The Help," "August: Osage County," "Pitch Perfect," "Prisoners," "Dallas Buyers Club," and "Love and Mercy," the recent biopic about Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys.
came to his
profession by a rather roundabout route.
grew up in North Wilmington-Surrey Park-with an older brother and younger sister.
Paul attended Friends School from eighth through 12th grades and played bass guitar in the school's jazz band.
also participated in what he
calls "an informal drama club" at Friends.
After graduation, he enrolled at Kenyon, a small liberal arts college in Gambier, Ohio.
Majoring in English and drama, he
first exposure to professional theater after his
freshman year as a summer counselor at the Dorsett Playhouse
followed that with a summer at the Berkshire Theater Festival in Massachusetts.
had won the Paul Newman (Kenyon class of 1949) acting award, Schnee
says, "I never really considered acting as a vocation, and I had no clue what I wanted to do after graduation."
wound up in New York, where he
got into the agent-training program at mega-agency International Creative Management
spent the first couple of weeks working in the mailroom before a serendipitous maternity leave opened a spot as assistant to an agent.
Schnee was promoted to the position, then moved to become assistant to agency head Sam Cohn, one of the most powerful agents of the 1970s and '80s.
Always a voracious reader, Schnee landed a job in publishing, spending 12 years as an editor at Random House, Simon & Schuster, and the magazine Brill's Content.
says, "was something that was a combination of creative and a steady 'real' job."
folded, and he
found himself interning again, this time at Hopkins Smith & Barden Casting.
quickly rose to casting assistant and began working closely with Kerry Barden.
When HS&B dissolved, the two men formed Barden/Schnee.
With offices in New York and Los Angeles, they are among the leading casting agents in both the motion picture and television industries.
, who lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two young daughters, is a special favorite of Debra Granik, who directed "Winter's Bone.
The 49-year-old Schnee
job as "the HR department of the film.
"I tell actors that you not only need to be a good actor, you need to be someone that I can comfortably recommend to the powers that be.
In addition to a good or great actor, producers and directors want someone who is nice to be around," he
In addition to casting films, Schnee
has been directing New York theater productions, including Lillian Hellman's "The Children's Hour.