dfp_header_hidden_string

Get our free email newsletter with just one click

My First Job: Nancy Bishop

Nancy Bishop. Photo: Barbara Sitar Nancy Bishop. Photo: Barbara Sitar
by -

“When I say action, don’t breathe, Nancy.” Those were the director’s notes as I lay on the cobblestones with a grizzly open scar grafted on my throat. I was Jack the Ripper’s first victim, which I performed in a perfectly terrible Dick Van Dyke cockney. That was Prague in 1998. Not only did I act, but Love Lies Bleeding was also my first casting job.

It started with a phone call. “You are director of English theatre, yes?” asked the line producer with a heavy Czech inflexion. “We need actors with British accents.” I contacted every actor I knew, and even random British people in Prague – a hard task in the days when not everyone had a phone. British actor Paul Rhys played the Ripper, opposite Emily Raymond. Director Bill Tannen wrangled his buddy Wayne Rogers, wealthy from M*A*S*H residuals, to pay his own flight to Prague and play the inspector. Malcolm McDowell did a cameo, as did Faye Dunaway, but my only memory of her was that she asked a PA to bring her scrambled eggs in church.

The remainder of the 40 roles were cast by me in Prague. I conducted auditions as I would have done in theatre. The actor filled out a form and read the scene. No video. Film was not my game. I didn’t know the difference between a camera and a box with a hole on the side. Tannen snapped a polaroid of each actor. I should have been photographing them, but I simply had no idea what the fuck I was doing.

I was so dedicated to my theatre company, I donated all earnings to our next production. I took acting credit for my prostitution work, but didn’t care about the casting mention, having no idea that this was the beginning of a long career as a casting director.

PS. If you see the movie, you’ll understand why I work behind the camera now instead of in front. Thankfully, it is almost impossible to view, so I think I’m pretty safe.


CV: Nancy Bishop

Age: undisclosed
Training: University of Michigan; National Theatre Institute; Northwestern University, MA in theatre
TV includes: Missing (ABC), Charles II (BBC), Revelations (NBC), The Scarlet Pimpernel Parts 1 and 2 (BBC), Blood Drive (SyFy)
Film includes: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Hellboy, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, GI Joe, Snowpiercer
Other Credits: author, Auditioning for Film and TV: Secrets from a Casting Director (Bloomsbury)


Nancy Bishop, Emmy-nominated casting director with offices in London and Prague, was talking to John Byrne

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

loading...
^