BACK STAGE WEST

November 07, 2002 

        

Exorcist to Punisher

Pam Dixon caps busy casting year with Artisan comic-book project.

 

by Rob Kendt

 

Casting director Pam Dixon, who recently wrapped up work on Exorcist: The Beginning in Morocco, is plunging into work on the Artisan Entertainment production of The Punisher, another in a long line of Marvel comic-based films. Screenwriter/producer Jonathan Hensleigh (Armageddon, Jumanji) will make his directorial debut with this adaptation of the crime-fighting pulper, with Gale Ann Hurd and Avi Arad producing. Chances are good that this new Punisher film will erase any memory of the poorly received Dolph Lungren starrer of 1989. Dixon indicated that the film's casting needs will closely correspond to the comic's characters.

 

Dixon, who has worked as an independent CD from her office on the Warner Bros. lot for 10 years, has bulked up her already diverse resumÄ with a busy year: She placed talent in Craig Ferguson's small U.K.-shot pic The Family Business (a.k.a. I'll Be There), which features the acting debut of classical singing prodigy Charlotte Church and has been picked up by Morgan Creek for distribution; in Beyond Borders, the Angelina Jolie/Clive Owen epic story of love among the NGOs, and in writer/director Andrew Fleming's The Wedding Party, starring Albert Brooks and Michael Douglas. After The Punisher Dixon is set to cast two more Morgan Creek projects, Man Alive and an epic called The Northman, both of which are still seeking directors.

 

Dixon doesn't exclusively cast huge epics and action/adventure films; she also worked with Robert Altman on Cookie's Fortune and Gosford Park. Indeed, she was one of the first casting directors credited on an Altman film (Elisabeth Leustig was the first with Kansas City), as the director had previously relied primarily on his longtime associate producer, Robert Eggenweiler, who died in 1999, to assist with casting duties. U.K.-based Mary Selway ended up doing the majority of casting for Gosford after Dixon spent a year on the project stateside, filling the key American role with the unlikely choice of Ryan Philippe; Dixon received a "special thanks" credit in the Oscar-winning film. Dixon's other casting credits include City Slickers, The Waterdance, The Craft, and The Mask of Zorro.