Claire Simon Casting put 371 local actors in network series

The Chicago Code on Fox

Claire Simon Casting so far has cast the most Chicago AFTRA actors in network television shows, 371 in all – 198 in the 13 episodes of Fox’ “The Chicago Code,” and 173 in 18 episodes of ABCV’s “Detroit 1-8-7.” 

“I’m really proud of our Chicago actors, they are amazing,” she says.  “Everyone involved with the two series was totally happy with their work.”

Simon estimates that around two-thirds of the “Code” roles cast were day players.  One-third were meatier roles.  “When a few actors came in and did such a great job, the writers wrote a storyline for them,” Simon says.  

Initially, Phillip Edward Van Lear only had a couple of lines, but they brought his character (Ellis Hicks, an aide to Delroy Lindo’s Alderman Gibbons) back for 10 episodes.Actor Phillip Edward Van Lear

Christian Stolte (Sgt. Worthen, who Commander Colvin promoted to Commander of Mops and Brooms), “got a nice storyline with another episode,” she notes.  Madison Dirks, as Irish mob member Mickey, had a four-episode arc. 

Simon and her casting associates had nearly a year’s worth of casting on “The Chicago Code,” starting with three months on the pilot exactly one year ago.  

Fox greenlighted the series and the assignment continued through 12 episodes, from July through December, in what was a breathtakingly fast casting process – completed within one week prior to each episode being shot.

“The day after we received the script, we joined in a casting concept conference call with Shawn and the casting director, in L.A., the writer, producer and director, for their input and any specifics to narrow down the search,” says Simon.   

Immediately thereafter, a casting call went out via Breakdown Express to local talent agents.  “We had 20 roles per episode and received at least 100 submissions per role – about 2,000 in all — within minutes,” she recalls. 

“Everything went so fast we didn’t have time to drink coffee.” 

One hundred actors – five per role – were called in to audition over two days at Chicago Studio City, where the production was headquartered. 

“The ‘Code’s’ executives winnowed down their selections to two actors per role and sent their choices to Shawn, the production company and the network,” describes Simon.

“They looked at everyone, even the one-liners.” 

Decisions completed by Friday, shooting began anew on Monday and the whole process started again and continued for three months.

Casting two network series simultaneously was a first for Simon in her 15 years of business, although she has cast TV series before.  In 2008, her company placed 106 actors in “The Beast,” with the late Patrick Swayze, and in 2005, 168 actors in the only season “Prison Break” spent in Chicago.

The company last year cast all five pilots that filmed here and this year it is filling roles for CBS’ “Cooper and Stone,” the only TV pilot to film in Chicago, among the some 80 broadcast and cable network pilots greenlighted for production.

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