Victoria Thomas interview: ‘The Mosquito Coast’ casting director
Apple TV+’s “The Mosquito Coast” is the third project between Justin Theroux and casting director Victoria Thomas after “The Leftovers” and 2018’s “On the Basis of Sex,” and Thomas loves reconnecting with not just Theroux but any previously cast actor.
“They kind of become old friends in an old way. It’s kind of interesting to try to cast them at different points in their career and cast around them at different points in their career. I’ve been around a while and Justin’s been around a while so I remember his auditions from back in the day, so it’s kinda good that we’re both here and haven’t been kicked out of the business,” Thomas jokes to Gold Derby at our Meet the Experts: TV Casting Directors panel (watch the exclusive video interview above).
Based on the novel of the same name by Paul Theroux, Justin’s uncle, the series follows the Foxes, who after living off the grid in Stockton, California, must suddenly go on the run to Mexico to evade authorities. Theroux plays patriarch Allie Fox, a handyman and aspiring inventor disillusioned with American materialism. “He’s always surprising with his performances so it’s fun to watch him act. Between ‘Leftovers’ and ‘Mosquito Coast,’ he’s kind of good at playing extremes in a way,” Thomas says of her leading man. “His characters did extreme things on both shows.”
The main cast is rounded out by Melissa George as Allie’s wife Margot, and Logan Polish and Gabriel Bateman as their teenage children, Dina and Charlie, respectively. Finding the right actors for the kids was of utmost importance since the pair sometimes have their own storylines and must hold their own opposite Theroux and George. “We wanted a kind of brainy kid [for Charlie] but a kid nonetheless but a kid who was kind of an adult in a way because he and his family have been moving around and he’s had to adapt to different situations. … He and Justin kind of looked like each other. They fit together,” Thomas, who won an Emmy last year for “Watchmen,” explains. “Logan was again [about] looking for someone unique. Just looking for a unique actress who was interesting to us as a person and as a young girl rebelling against not having a normal life. Logan’s just a unique person, good actress. I think we got really fortunate, really lucky with these kids.”
George was the final piece of the Fox family puzzle to be cast — after a nudge from Theroux. According to Thomas, the “Alias” alum was supposed to send in a self-tape but never did. “We tried out several people and finally Justin said, ‘What about Melissa?’ I said, ‘She was supposed to put herself on tape,’ so I think he called her and said, ‘Put yourself on tape. Get it over here!’ So she did,” she recalls. “[It was about] timing and coming in at the right moment, it just kind of worked. I think she and Justin had a good chemistry and he felt comfortable with her and she fit in with who we cast as the kids. It all kind of made sense.”