Marvel fans are likely familiar with the work of Jason B. Stamey, whose casting credits include titles like Avengers: Endgame, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and WandaVision. And with a number of upcoming projects in the works, Stamey still found time to virtually sit down with Casting Networks and provide a window into the person behind all the credits. Keep reading for his journey to WandaVision, Stamey’s first credit at the casting director level, which also earned him his first Emmy nod.
It’s great to virtually meet you, Jason, and I’d love to start at the beginning of your casting journey. When was the moment you knew it was the job for you?
I transitioned into casting out of working in the music industry, which was rewarding at the time but lacked some of the creativity I was used to having. I was a stage performer for many years prior to moving to Los Angeles and reached out to a friend who happened to be directing Over the Moon Productions’ Spring Awakening in LA. I became her assistant director for the piece, which gave me the opportunity to work with Tamara Hunter, who was casting the show. She’s so talented and intelligent in her casting decisions, and it was such a thrill to work with her and to be a part of the audition process. On the opening night of that show, I saw all the amazing actors that I’d helped cast go up and perform. I felt like I was entering into this new phase of my life and just wept with joy at finding a new creative drive for it. So I took Tamara out to dinner to talk about it, along with a pitcher of margs. [Laughs]. And during that time, she confirmed everything that I had been mulling over about entering the world of casting. Tamara told me that she believed I was a casting person and receiving that validation from someone who’d been in the industry for so long was a sort of checkmark of approval for me. Just a few months later, there was an opening at the Sarah Finn Company and I landed my very first job as a casting assistant. I’ve been at the company for nine and a half years, the last two of which I’ve been a casting director.
And now you’re getting recognized by the Television Academy for your casting work! Congrats on the Emmy nomination for WandaVision. What can you share about the casting process for it?
To be really honest, it was at first absolutely daunting for me because I’d been given the opportunity with this project to graduate from being an associate to a casting director with Sarah and her company. I knew the legacy that Sarah had already built within the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe because I’d been working with her on these films since Iron Man 3. Plus, transitioning Marvel stories into this new world with Disney+ — via a series that is essentially a love letter to TV in general — was an opportunity that I didn’t take lightly. The scope and the tone of this project was so ambitious and so beautifully created by Jac Schaeffer, Matt Shakman and Mary Livanos. It was inspiring, but we also had our work cut out for us. We needed actors to live in the Marvel world while embodying all these hyper-specific eras of classic television. They had to be able to do the tongue-in-cheek humor of the ’50s and ’60s and then come into very serious life- and- death situations. It became a question of what makes an actor timeless. But when names like Teyonah Parris and Kathryn Hahn came up, it all started to make sense. Not only are they incredible actors that can do anything, but their experience really lent itself to the show. That helped us start weaving the tapestry of what we were trying to present. And it was all grounded by these unbelievable performances by Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany. I could not be prouder of the final product, which I felt was just a home run on all fronts, and it turned out that the Television Academy agreed.
Considering the 23 total nominations it gave to WandaVision, I’d definitely say it did. And now it’s time for my favorite question to ask casting. If someone made a series about your life story, which actor would you cast to play the role of Jason B. Stamey?
It’s funny to think about because when I was younger, a lot of people would say I reminded them of Jim Carrey. I never really saw it, but after considering the entirety of his career, it has started to make sense. I grew up in North Carolina and had this weird and quirky journey there that was also tough at times. It was really a struggle for my life to get from there to here. I think an actor would need to have a sense of comedy to be able to look at how all the pieces of my life came together and then play that. Because, you know, there’s always light with darkness. So I feel like a young Jim Carrey could be a really interesting choice for encompassing all that. Plus, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of my favorite movies of all time.
Thanks for sharing that, Jason. And before we wrap, I’d love to hear some of your casting inspirations.
Yesi Ramirez’s casting work on Moonlight comes to mind. I remember being so blown away a few years back when I first saw it and even went to rewatch it at a very small screening when theaters began reopening. I’ve cast a lot of younger versions of superheroes in Marvel movies and really appreciate that aspect of her casting in Moonlight. She did such an amazing job of getting young actors who not only resembled their adult counterparts, but they even had similar cadences and ways of speaking. It helped everything work together seamlessly to tell the film’s very moving story. And I love the work of Kim Coleman. I’m also a horror fan so I have to mention Lisa Beach, as well, with the Scream franchise. And I couldn’t answer this question without saying Sarah Finn and Tamara Hunter, who have been such inspirations and guiding lights throughout my entire career.
When asked what he’s watching at the moment, Stamey listed titles like The Flight Attendant, Hacks, and Loki, along with looking forward to the next seasons of Ozark and Succession. And fans of Stamey’s work can anticipate his own upcoming projects, including the Marvel series Hawkeye, She-Hulk and Secret Invasion. Those interested in learning more about the casting director behind all the credits can check out his Instagram page, which he noted as a platform on which he’s active.
This interview has been edited and condensed.