Legendary casting director and producer Bonnie Timmerman is known for discovering and supporting some of the most recognizable names in the history of film, television and theater over the past four decades.
Now the roles are reversed, and Timmerman is the on-screen star bonnie, a film portrait of his life and career. On November 16, Fordham hosted a special screening of the documentary and a Q&A with Timmerman at its Lincoln Center campus.
In his opening remarks, Gerry Byrne, FCRH ’66, vice president of Penske Media, highlighted his personal friendship with Timmerman and his impact on the industry at large.
“His involvement in the success of so many important pictures and platforms has really made a difference in this world we live in,” said Byrne, who hosted the event at Fordham.
Timmerman spoke with executive editor Brent Lang after the film Variety MagazineA Penske publication, about his career and his uniquely empathetic approach to casting.
“You just have to feel your way into it,” he said of building his special relationships with actors. “Ask them if they have any good jokes or why they became an actor. “I think it’s very important to sit down and talk to an actor, so you get to know who they are.”
Timmerman helped discover some actors, such as Tony, Emmy and Academy Award winners Kevin Kline and Moonlight Star Andre Holland was on hand to celebrate with them.
Dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center, Ph.D. Laura Auricio said she was grateful for the opportunity to screen the film at the Lincoln Center campus.
“It was a true honor to welcome so many veterans of stage and screen, and a tremendous opportunity for students in our theater and film/TV programs to get a behind-the-scenes look at the casting process,” she said. “I hope this will be the first of many such screenings as we strive to make the most of our incredible Lincoln Center location.”
‘Just keep reading’
The enthusiastic crowd of students, teachers and industry insiders laughed and applauded throughout the screening – particularly in response to several home video clips featuring stars before they were household names, such as Liam Neeson, Kate Winslet and Laurence Fishburne. Includes interviews with Timmerman.
Fordham College student Dillin Green of Rose Hill, originally from Atlanta, planned her schedule around the event to ensure she could attend.
“I had a 10 a.m. class at Lincoln Center, but I stayed here the rest of the day,” she said at the pre-event reception. “I want to be a director, but I also want to learn all the different things other people do behind the scenes. “I just want to learn how to get my foot in the door.”
Timmerman fielded questions from students like Green after the screening, asking about their career paths, the entertainment industry and their advice to actors.
“Read,” Timmerman said before the question was finished. “Just keep reading. Actors are more interesting when they have confidence and can talk about what’s happening in the world.”
When asked how watching the film made him evaluate his decades of guidance and massive success, Timmerman took a minute to answer.
“I’m still trying to figure it out,” she said. “Once you think you know everything, you know very little.”