Bernard Telsey: 5 Amazing Movie Ensembles
Bernard Telsey
Casting Director

Academy governor Bernard Telsey has been casting for film, stage and television for over 25 years. His feature credits include Mary Poppins Returns, Rachel Getting Married, Margin Call and the upcoming films Respect and In the Heights.

Desperately Seeking Susan
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The movie was such a love letter to off-Broadway actors in New York: Bob Joy, Mark Blum, Aidan Quinn, Laurie Metcalf, John Turturro, Stephen Wright, Will Patton, Ann Magnuson, all the way to Giancarlo Esposito. AND introduced Madonna. New York in 1985. The casting, wonderfully done by Risa Bramon Garcia and Billy Hopkins, was a huge part of what made the movie raw and real. The actors all were hilarious and, as a young casting director, it was exciting because I had seen many of them in their off-Broadway plays. It was like I was witnessing the beginning of their film career. It gave so many people their big break.

Breaking Away
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It's such a coming-of-age movie. And I was 19 when it came out, so I could appreciate what a dreamer Dave was. The ensemble was made up of actors in the their early careers: Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Jackie Earle Haley, and the parents Barbara Barrie and Paul Dooley. They were all so unique, believable and relatable. Small-town America dreams big, yet not. When the mother tells Dave the story about her passport, I was cheering out loud. Cast by Jane Feinberg and Michael Fenton, the cast was quirky and memorable.

The Deer Hunter
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"The Deer Hunter" was devastating to me, to watch these people living through the havoc the Vietnam War brought upon them and our country. Such an emotional roller coaster. Cast by Cis Corman. Robert De Niro, John Cazale, John Savage, Christopher Walken and Meryl Streep. A group of best friends whose lives are forever changed. They played life-and-death stakes so realistically, they were so emotional, all brilliant actors — all five of them. What moved me in particular was what they each brought to their role and how they changed during the movie. I felt like I personally knew them and couldn’t wait to see John Savage and Meryl Streep in another movie. Ultimately, for me, the movie represented the beginning of watching Meryl Streep, which clearly and hopefully has no end...

All About Eve
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Such a masterpiece film. The cast, Bette Davis, Celeste Holm, Marilyn Monroe, George Sanders and Gary Merrill and Hugh Marlowe all floated in their own bubble and Anne Baxter had just enough edge to make you realize that she would be the one to break it.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
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Jack Nicholson, Will Sampson, Danny DeVito, Brad Dourif, Christopher Lloyd and Louise Fletcher. Such an eccentric group of actors that all became stars in their own right. Again, brilliantly cast by Michael Fenton and Jane Feinberg. Vincent Schiavelli, Michael Berryman, Scatman Crothers and Sydney Lassick each had such an iconic face. It felt like real people had been cast, even though they were all working actors. Together they formed the perfect ensemble. They made you squirm in your seat.

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