‘As We See It’ casting director Cami Patton on discovering ‘untapped’ talent for autistic lead roles [Exclusive Video Interview]

For Cami Patton, “As Wee See It” was the job of a lifetime. Based on the Israeli series “On the Spectrum” and adapted by Jason Katims, the Amazon Prime Video series follows three young adults — Jack (Rick Glassman), Vivian (Sue Ann Pien) and Harrison (Albert Rutecki) — who are on the autism spectrum navigating their lives. Katims, whose son is autistic, wanted to cast neurodiverse actors in the lead roles and Patton was the first person he called once the show was greenlit.

“We have a few things in common in our personal lives so he knew it was something that would be near and dear to me and the idea that he already gotten the studio to OK us — really just focusing in the beginning on looking for neurodiverse talent was huge,” Patton tells Gold Derby at our Meet the Experts: Casting Directors panel (watch the exclusive video interivew above). “It was probably my favorite job I’ve had in my entire career. Not probably — it was. It was overwhelmingly gratifying.”

A pilot typically takes 10 weeks to cast, but Patton and her team only had four weeks to find “untapped” talent to fill the three roles. The casting process usually entails breakdowns being sent out and agents subsequently pitching clients, but “very few agents had actors that were going to be right for us here.” The two-time Emmy winner looked into theaters across the country and as far as Canada and the U.K.

SEE ‘As We See It’ showrunner Jason Katims on the importance of exploring autism in adulthood

“My son is part of a theater so it just had us thinking, ‘OK, there’s going to be a web of theaters out there that have talent that’s untapped.’ What was I think the most different about this process is that each theater we would reach out to would tell us about two or three more,” she explains. “It was really just the most incredibly collaborative and supportive group of people, excited to even just be considered.”

They found Glassman, who was diagnosed with autism a few years ago, and Pien on Day 2. Both were already working actors and had representation. “They just came in and owned their parts from the very first day. We had people that gave them a run for their money, but in my mind the bar was set from the minute they both auditioned,” Patton gushes. Rutecki sent in a self-tape from Pennsylvania that was first watched by Patton’s daughter, who was her casting assistant. “She saw his tape first and came flying in the office going, ‘You have to see this! You have to see this!’ And it was just so Harrison. There was just no question.”

Group casting sessions were done with the trio and a handful of other actors, but it was a no-brainer that Glassman, Pien and Rutecki were their Jack, Vivian and Albert. “There was just something about that chemistry between the three of them that really felt so right for those roles particularly,” Patton states. “Normally that process is so stressful and you’re just plowing through, trying to cover as much ground as you can and make sure you’ve found the right people for every role, and this was the opposite. It was joy every day.”

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