Get To Know the Casting Director: Linda Lamontagne
This installment of Get to Know the Casting Director features a top name in the field who also happens to possess the quality of putting one instantly at ease. The extensive list of previous credits on Linda Lamontagne’s résumé include some big titles that range from Roseanne to Family Guy to BoJack Horseman. And the busy casting director has a stacked slate of upcoming projects on the horizon, as well, which includes season two of Netflix’s Inside Job and the new WarnerMedia series Jade Armor. But even with all the success she’s achieved in casting, it’s hard to imagine a more personable or down-to-earth individual than Lamontagne. Whether sharing about natural hair-care treatments during our Zoom interview — she recommends coconut over Moroccan oil — or discussing how the threat of evacuation during Southern California’s wildfire season forces one to determine what matters most — Lamontagne’s cat, Dr. Cubby Bombay, and her computer top her grab-list — the casting director exuded genuine affability. Keep reading for more insights into everything from how she works — including a window into casting the hit Amazon Prime Video series Invincible — all the way to how she likes her hamburgers.
It’s great to virtually meet you, Linda, and before we go any further, I have to say that I was inspired by your take on the classic “work from home” setup that I read about in another interview you did. I love that you’ve elevated the concept to “work from tub,” which is pure genius.
I do my best thinking in water — there’s something about it that makes my creativity flow. Most people tend to relax when they hear fountains or are soaking in the bath, but my mind goes into overdrive. The ideas start coming. I’ll think of a person who’d be fantastic for one show or another, and I literally have to write everything down the minute I get out of the tub so I don’t forget. I did use to work from the tub, but after I accidentally sunk my laptop, I had to give it up. [Laughs] But yes, water still inspires me.
That’s a very relatable moment — I can empathize with losing a laptop to an accident that no amount of rice can fix! [Laughs] Now, I know you started primarily in live-action casting and have since racked up an impressive list of credits in animation. Can you share a little bit about your introduction to the world of voice casting?
There’s this incredible woman named Karen Bush, who was then Karen Vice. She hired me and gave me my start in casting. Karen has since retired from the business to raise her brilliant kids, and I’m so grateful to have had her as my mentor. She was this shining example of what a good casting director should be. Together, we got Family Guy, and that sort of changed the trajectory of my career. I still do live-action casting — working on Undone actually fell into that category — but the momentum from Family Guy carried me on to other animated projects. And I’ll add that my very first foray into that world came with another wonderful casting director, Alice Cassidy. She brought me on to CBS’ animated, Emmy-winning series The Last Halloween. At this point, I think people may know me more for my work on animated projects, but I don’t feel limited to just one area of casting.
That makes sense! Now, Linda, I have to ask you one of my favorite questions. If someone made a film about your life story, which actor would you cast to play Linda Lamontagne?
Well, I love Holly Hunter — she’s one of my all-time favorite actresses. I’m not from the south like her, and we don’t look alike. But, I really like her spirit and spunkiness. She has this tenacity and drive to which I can relate. I haven’t met her yet, but I really appreciate her work. Then there’s Kimiko Glenn, who I do know personally because I’ve had the honor of hiring her many times. She has that spunky essence, as well, and is also just such a doll. Kimiko could definitely play the nicer side of this Linda character. [Laughs]
Just from this interview, you already seem very kind, so I’m trying to imagine a nicer version! [Laughs] And I have to take a minute to congratulate you on all the success of the inaugural season of Invincible. While we wait on its highly-anticipated second season, I’d love to hear what you can tell us about assembling the cast for the series.
First, I’ll say that it’s been incredible to work with each and every person that’s been a part of the project. Amazon has been amazing, too, and I’m glad we’re all set for our second and third seasons. I’m so proud of this show and how hard everyone has worked on it. That includes agents and managers and assistants that answer calls at all hours and on weekends in order to deliver what we need. As far as the actual casting process, I’d sum it up by saying the word “fun.” There are some incredibly strong credits between Robert Kirkman, Simon Racioppa, and Catherine Winder, which helped draw people to the first season. Robert had some actors in mind, and then we went after everybody that we thought would be right for the various roles. We were very fortunate that they all just said yes. That includes the guest stars, as well. I actually owe Keith David for introducing me to Mahershala Ali at a screening of Green Book. I told Mahershala that he needed to come do animation, and then we ended up getting him on Invincible.
I love that window into how he ended up on the cast list.
When it comes to casting, in general, I try to always keep an open mind to everyone and every circumstance. That includes crossing over to musicians, such as this great band I recently heard called Goodbye June. I loved their voices, so I chased down the band members and am going to find them something to be in — they’d do a great job voicing monsters! And then there’s the example of casting City of Ghosts, for which I needed to find kids from certain neighborhoods for the different roles. I went to various McDonald’s and would keep an ear out at their play places while eating a quarter-pounder with no cheese and extra pickles. I had to eat a lot of those by the end of it, but we got the right kids for the roles! [Laughs]
I appreciate that some innovative thinking got the results you needed. Now, I have a hypothetical question for you. In some alternate universe in which you had to choose a different career than casting, what would it be?
I’ve actually already thought about this. I would either be the tour manager of a band or a location scout. For the former, I would make the tours really fun for the artists. I would research the cities where they had stops and provide options of what they could go out and do in each town. I’d handle promotions and make sure the money was right, too. There’s always business at the back of my mind because my background before casting was feature film distribution. I also worked at William Morris Endeavor about a thousand years ago. [Laughs] So, my background is pretty diverse, and it plays a role in my casting process now. When I think about casting a project, for example, I’m also considering how we’re going to market it. I want the project to succeed, so I’m going to help sell it as best as I can. I treat each project like it’s my child, and I’m going to see it through to the end.
It’s nice to hear how much passion you have for the job, and it sounds like travel is something you also really enjoy.
Yes. Food, music, art, and travel are also on the list of things about which I’m passionate. The latter also factors into why I’d like to be a location scout. It would be another way of making the filmmaker’s vision come true — with the location rather than with the cast. There are all these incredible places to fit whatever the specific needs may be, and negotiating property use is also in my wheelhouse. But even though I’d love to be a location scout or a band’s tour manager, that doesn’t mean I’m planning to transition out of casting. I love casting and am going to do it forever. I’ll cast until the day I die!
Lamontagne’s passion for her work shined through her interview, including when we asked how she spent her time off the clock. “I never really stop thinking about casting unless I’m sleeping,” Lamontagne told us. “Even then, I’m dreaming about it, and I’ll wake up with ideas.” So, from how the casting director finds inspiration in the tub to how she finds it in her REM cycle, this has been a window into the fascinating person behind the impressive casting resume. Those interested in learning more about all the titles included on the latter can find them listed on IMDb.
This interview has been edited and condensed.