Since starting his career as a casting director a decade ago, San Antonio resident Michael Druck has witnessed an evolution in the TV and film industry.
For example, if a filmmaker is looking for an actor to play the part of a transgender character today, Druck — whose job includes casting actors in a range of roles in movies, TV series and commercials — will now prepare a list of options that only includes trans talent. The days of casting a straight actor like Jared Leto to play a transwoman in Dallas Buyer's Club are over.
"It wasn't always like that," Druck, 38, told the Current during a recent interview. "Now, if someone asks for a trans actor, I'll present my list and say, 'Here are the best actors for the part, who also happen to be trans.'"
As a Latino member of the LGBTQ+ community, it's a recent change in the industry that Druck welcomes. "The movement has been going on for many years, but I feel like time has finally caught up," he added.
That evolution has also affected the casting of actors of color. While some corners of Hollywood are still being stubborn about it — Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones as Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco, anyone? — Druck sees the shift happening.
"I like that we're also starting to talk about skin tone," Druck said. "We're always whitewashing things. I want to know if you're looking for [Indigenous actors] like in [the film] Roma, or do you want someone you'd see in a telenovela? That's important to me."
A 2002 graduate of Roosevelt High School, Druck started his career at a now-defunct local talent agency. He was taking theater courses in college at the time but decided to test the waters as a talent agent.
"I liked the idea of hiding behind the scenes," he explained.
After working for four years as a talent agent and three years as a producer (Doctor S Battles the Sex Crazed Reefer Zombies: The Movie), Druck said he "got bored" and asked himself what his next adventure should be. So, he packed up and moved to New York City for a year where he worked as an intern, production assistant and barista.
"That was like my Real World phase," Druck said. "It was good for me. I was feeling stagnant, and going to New York lit a fire."
When Druck's mother fell ill in 2012, he relocated to Austin to be with her and his family. That's when he established his own company, Michael Druck Casting.
"I'm like the liaison between the actor, agent and client," he said. "I'm there to vet actors and give the client options."
For example, if a company is looking for a group of extras for a commercial, Druck will get a call asking to fill the roles with the actors he thinks will do the best job. "Out of the 200 emails I get from actors who want the job, I'll pick the best 75 and then cut it down for the 10 available spots for the commercial."
In 2017, Druck received a call from casting director Risa Bramon Garcia asking if he could move to Los Angeles for a few months to help with casting for Season 4 of the Showtime series The Affair. During the '80s and '90s, Garcia was the casting director on many of director Oliver Stone's films, including Wall Street, Born on the Fourth of July, JFK and Natural Born Killers.
"Here I was in Austin with my fully-furnished apartment on Monday and by Thursday, I was crashing on a friend's couch in LA reading scripts," Druck said. "I did it because I always want to get better at my job and grow in my industry. You don't go to school for casting, so I like to school myself."
After his short-term gig with The Affair was over, Druck headed back to Austin, where offers for his services started flooding in.
In December 2020, he returned to San Antonio, where his filmography continues to expand.
Recent projects he's helped cast include the films Little Woods directed by Nia DaCosta and Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood from Oscar-nominated writer/director Richard Linklater. He also worked on the upcoming Netflix TV series Plus/Minus starring Lili Reinhart (Riverdale).
"What I do is very instinctual," Druck said. "Some actors may think casting directors are out to get them, but we're really their biggest cheerleaders. I'm very proud of the work I do."
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