Yes, yes we know. This is not the latest piece of work in the world but it’s freezing in London and we loooooove happy guys dancing on the summer streets of our neighbourhood anytime. We asked Sonny director Guy Manwaring how he cast the role.
“When I first received the script for this job it was clear that there was going to be a very fine line between success and failure; after all, a ‘feel-good ad’ about a guy dancing down the street could easily turn out being pretty cheesy.
I knew that it would take a certain type of performance from our actor to be able to pull it off.
The creatives and I had decided early on to avoid casting a dancer for the role, as we wanted there to be a naive charm about the way he moved. We didn’t want it to appear too slick or choreographed.
Funnily enough, when I wrote my treatment for the job I mentioned that I knew the perfect guy for the part – an American actor called Jack Plotnick who I had worked with a number of times in the States. Initially, however, it seemed too much of an extravagance to fly someone from LA for a London shoot, so we went through the process of looking for an actor here.
After three or four casting sessions my initial worries were confirmed, and I was beginning to worry that the idea wasn’t going to work.
Eventually, I got in touch with Jack and told him about the project. I sent him a few references and my treatment and asked if he could put something on tape. He was going to do it in his living room with the camera on a tripod but I told him that it would work a lot better and more natural if he could walk down the street and respond to the things around him.
He was just finishing shooting on a movie at the time and managed to rope the DP into shooting it for him on a lunch break.
He had ‘Staying Alive’ playing on his headphones for the rhythm and then the ‘Blue Jeans’ was put over it in the edit.
I can’t tell you how relieved I was when his audition came through, and the client approved him straight away.
To be honest, I liked his tape so much that the hardest thing was trying to retain its charm and simplicity on the shoot itself. (See Related Content)
I think that it is a really good example of what a difference finding the right actor can make.”