When casting a film, Clint calls this Fil-Am | Inquirer Entertainment
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When casting a film, Clint calls this Fil-Am

By: - Columnist
/ 02:46 AM February 13, 2015

“American Sniper” casting team and crew (from left): Geoffrey Miclat, casting director; Sierra Scott, casting assistant; Kristina Rivera, associate producer; Eve Streger, casting associate; Jessica Meier, associate producer; Megan Mieduch, production assistant; and Blu Murray, assistant editor

“American Sniper” casting team and crew (from left): Geoffrey Miclat, casting director; Sierra Scott, casting assistant; Kristina Rivera, associate producer; Eve Streger, casting associate; Jessica Meier, associate producer; Megan Mieduch, production assistant; and Blu Murray, assistant editor

LOS ANGELES—When Clint Eastwood casts his movies these days, he turns to Filipino-American Geoffrey Miclat, to help him select actors for the principal roles. The veteran actor-director promoted the son of Filipino doctors to casting director for his recent films, “American Sniper” and “Jersey Boys.” Before his promotion, Geoffrey assisted Clint in casting his films from “Mystic River” to “J. Edgar”; Woody Allen (“To Rome with Love”), Spike Jonze (“Her”) and the late Mike Nichols (“Charlie Wilson’s War”).

At 33, Geoffrey is one of the youngest casting directors of a film that earned an Oscar best picture nomination—the controversial “American Sniper,” which bagged five other nods, including a best actor citation for Bradley Cooper who plays the late Navy SEAL sharpshooter Chris Kyle.


Geoffrey, who said he was stunned and grateful when Clint made him his main casting guy, was born in the United States to Dr. Marciano Miclat Jr., who grew up in Olongapo City, and Dr. Nora Miclat who hails from Quezon province.


“I grew up in a small town called Larchmont (New York),” said the bespectacled, long-haired film executive who is based in New York but is often in LA on business. “Growing up in a Filipino household was great. Different foods, a different language, old school values and a tremendous work ethic were just some of the things that colored my upbringing.”

After high school at the Fordham Preparatory in the Bronx, Geoffrey studied at the Villanova University (Pennsylvania), where he earned a general arts degree, minor in psychology.

Geoffrey is developing a project, “Alistair Grey,” with Clint’s assistant editor, Blu Murray.   “The script is in its final stages. I hope this is the first of many projects on which Blu and I will collaborate,” said Geoffrey.

Excerpts from our e-mail interview:

How did you land in the casting profession?

Completely and totally by accident. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time and seizing an opportunity.


Who gave you your first break?

Phyllis Huffman (Clint’s longtime casting director). I had reluctantly acted in a local play she was directing in my high school   senior year. After the production, Phyllis asked if anyone was interested in a summer internship. I asked what she did; it sounded interesting and she took a chance on me.

Are you the first in your family to be in entertainment?

My cousin Marc Pelina is an actor in Los Angeles. But if it wasn’t for my friend Katherine Murphy and her desire to be in that local play, I would have never crossed paths with Phyllis Huffman. My life forever changed after that.

Can you describe how you cast “American Sniper”?

Bradley Cooper came attached to the project. I could not have cast a better Chris Kyle. My team and I were tasked to cast the other 78 principal roles (speaking roles or strongly featured nonspeaking roles, like Mustafa) from cast No. 2 Taya (Chris’ wife) through cast No. 79 Colton (Chris and Taya’s son) at age 4. This involved an extensive auditioning process over several months.

After narrowing down my top choices for each character, I presented them to Clint. He watched the auditions (on tape) and circled his favorites. I am proud to say we got to cast 10 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, including one of Chris’ actual SEAL team members. From day one, it was important to me to involve veterans.

When did your long collaboration with Clint begin?

Clint Eastwood is amazingly loyal. I started working with Phyllis Huffman as a casting intern on “Mystic River.” I worked my way up to casting assistant and, eventually, casting associate. Phyllis passed away during “Letters from Iwo Jima” in 2006. But Clint, loyal as he is, continued to hire me as a casting associate and, ultimately, his casting director.

I always hoped I would become Clint’s casting director but I didn’t think I would get the call when I was 32. I was stunned, amazed, nervous, thrilled, grateful and proud but ready. I’ve had the most amazing opportunities to work for and learn from some of the best casting directors in the industry, but it was my time with Ellen Lewis that gave me the confidence to meet this challenge head on. I grew the most as a casting person under her watch. I am forever in her debt.

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Geoffrey (right, back row) with his family, Dr. Marciano Miclat Jr. (left, back row), and (front row, from left) Dr. Nora Miclat, Christina Miclat-Lenz and Marsha Miclat-Borelli

What is it like to collaborate with Clint?

It’s a wonderful place to be creative. He is very open-minded during the casting process. When hiring an actor, Clint is decisive. He trusts his instincts. I like that in a director.

Bradley mentioned that Clint prefers to see actors on tapes, instead of in person, for auditions. How did you adjust to this?

Bradley is right [but] to be honest, I’ve never had to adjust. This is where I started and have been for the past 12 years. Clint’s process is my process.

To what do you contribute your long working relationship?

It goes back to his loyalty. Clint’s production company, Malpaso, is like a family. Every time we start another project, we look forward to seeing one another. Plus, I like to think I make him laugh.

What is it like to collaborate with:

Woody Allen: A joy. I was working for Juliet Taylor and Patricia DiCerto on “To Rome with Love” at the time. Woody is one of my favorites.

Mike Nichols: A privilege. I was working for Ellen Lewis on “Charlie Wilsons’ War” at the time. After one casting session, Mike said, “Geoff, you’re a young lad, you can benefit from this. I only have one rule and it took me a long time to figure it out. Do you want to know what it is?”

I nodded, waiting in anticipation. He said, “No assholes. If you follow this rule you will be a happy man.” That was some of the best advice I’ve ever received.

Spike Jonze: Fun. Again, I was working for Ellen on “Her.” Spike has such a great energy and passion; it was infectious.

What was your particular challenge in “American Sniper”?

I felt a tremendous pressure to get it right. It was a big responsibility to honor these men and their memory. I had pictures of Chris Kyle, Marc Lee and Ryan Job (Chris’ friends and fallen SEAL members) on my office walls to remind me every day why we were making this movie. That kept me up at night.

Which film was the toughest or most challenging to cast?

“It’s Complicated.” No pun intended.

The most fun or enjoyable?

“Trouble with the Curve.” Probably because it was my first as a casting director and one I will never forget. “American Sniper” was the most fulfilling.

What do you think about the continued call for more opportunities for actors of color in Hollywood films?

Hollywood is getting better. I see more films and roles for actors of color. I even had the opportunity to work on two films with predominantly Asian casts, “Letters from Iwo Jima” and “Gran Torino.” I also think we should be proactive. Don’t just hope for roles; create them.

What tips can you give to actors to help them in the casting process and help them land roles?

For the auditioning actor, I don’t think there is anything I can say that will land you a role. Just keep in mind that I see many people read for a role and only one person gets the part. There are so many factors and personal opinions that go into making that decision. Most of the time, it comes down to: that person was right for that part at that time. Hopefully it’s you.

Casting couch in Hollywood, does it still exist?

Not that I know of.

How did you react to the controversy about “American Sniper” being denounced by some critics as war propaganda and who decry the movie’s portrayal of snipers as heroes?

I was surprised by the enormity of the controversy. Obviously, it struck a chord with the American people. The Iraq War is a polarizing one. Sadly, I feel the film’s message is getting lost in the politics. Whether you agree with the Iraq War or not is not the point. The film is trying to convey what a soldier goes through physically and mentally, both at home and abroad; to shed light on the wounds and invisible wounds that all soldiers suffer. I think we all agree that war is hell but someone has to fight them and this is their story.

Hope you have fun with this one: Why didn’t you cast a real baby in that now “famous” scene where Bradley and Sienna Miller pass a fake baby back and forth?

Hahaha! Oh man, I hope people don’t think I was responsible for that! I can’t take credit for that baby. I only cast principal (speaking) roles. That was outside my jurisdiction.

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E-mail the columnist at [email protected]. Follow him at https://twitter.com/nepalesruben.

TAGS: Bradley Cooper, Chris Kyle, Clint Eastwood

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