As soon as the casting call went out, we were deluged by applications. Over 450 of them.
The three of us – writer, director and producer – spent a fortnight watching convincing showreel after showreel.
To narrow the field down, we had to be very exacting – only actresses who got a ‘nod’ from all three of us would make it onto our pre-audition shortlist. There were so many tremendous talents who got two nods but still missed out.
The shortlist had 22 names on it – and we eventually narrowed it down to a manageable 6 who could be auditioned in one afternoon.
We allocated half-hour slots to each artiste, requesting that they read two actual scenes from the Reply To All script, before delivering a short improvised piece whilst still in the character of Becki.
We were blown away by results. All 6 auditionees exhibited more than enough promise to claim the role. But we could only choose one. Here is a summary of what happened…
The 6 “Beckis” we saw fell into 3 broad categories. These were:
Two actresses applied what I would describe as a Comedy-Drama take on the Becki character. They were both totally convincing, yet quite different from each other. At one end of the spectrum we had a razor-sharp, pushy Becki who would have given a distinct dark edge to the film whilst at the other we had a very naturalistic Becki who instantly felt like a long-lost best friend to all of us.
ROMANTIC COMEDY VIBE
One actress offered us a sweet, ingenue Becki that would have been perfect for a straight-up romantic comedy. An easy-to-like Becki, viewers would be on her side from the get-go.
PHYSICAL COMEDY VIBE
No fewer than three actresses gave what I would describe as a Physical Comedy take on Becki. Big on facial expressions and gesticulations, whilst also pointing up clear character flaws via exaggerated body language.
It became apparent to us that there were definite benefits to this Physical Comedy take on Becki. Key in this was the fact that Becki is the only live action character in the piece – all other characters are animations, which naturally come with their own idiosyncratic exaggerations. We realised we need a performer who can feel at home acting alongside these toons and strike up a rapport with them as if they were actually human. Much of the comedy in the script actually relies upon this.
Also – and without wanting to give anything away – the ending to the film is high on physical comedy and it is important that our actress demonstrated an aptitude for this.
It was a really tough choice, but from this sub-category of Physical Comedy auditions we eventually plumped for Tracey Pickup as the best all-round Becki – and indeed, a near-identical match to the person I had in mind when I first wrote the script.
Tracey offered a wonderfully dappy, yet warm Becki - the kind of character who always gets herself in these kind of muddles, but eventually stumbles her way out – almost by accident. The kind of character whose instinct upon falling into a bloody big hole is to pull out her shovel and dig it into a bloody bigger one. Before miraculously discovering an unexpected escape tunnel to safety. The type that never learns. Her delivery of the two sample scenes was bang on the money, before she delivered a hilarious improv. Something about the way she closed this ad lib with the almost throwaway line “Oooh, she’s in trouble that girl, she really is…” – delivered to an imaginary friend who had just hung up on her – perfectly summed-up blithe Becki’s difficulty in realising that she is the architect of her own downfall.
Tracey possesses a great range - using a wide range of facial expressions to comedic effect. This should see her hold her own alongside the ‘toons she’ll be pitched up against. She is blessed with a natural comedic timing, which should see her excel in the role of Becki…and many more beyond this.
Way to go Tracey!...And welcome to Team RTA.