Atlanta may be the “Hollywood of the South,” but Chicago is clearly the industry hub of the Midwest. The Windy City hosts shows such as Shameless and Empire as well as a number of series with “Chicago” in their titles. Our Production Hubs Chicago installment offers you a rundown of the biggest casting directors and the latest production happenings in what we’re calling the “Hollywood of the Midwest.”
Paskal Rudnicke Casting
Mickie Paskal and Jennifer Rudnicke are the names behind the company. They helped cast Steve McQueen’s 2018 crime drama Widows, starring Oscar-winner Viola Davis. The film was both set and shot in Chicago. Regarding current projects also being shot in Chicago, Paskal and Rudnicke cast Comedy Central’s new series South Side, a show about community college graduates trying to become entrepreneurs in the eponymous neighborhood. According to Deadline, it’s already renewed for its second season. The two have also been a part of casting previous seasons of Showtime Networks’ Shameless, starring William H. Macy, including its ninth season.
Paskal Rudnicke Casting has some exciting upcoming projects as well, including the new, fourth season of FX Network’s Fargo. According to IMDbPro, the season began shooting its first episode on October 15 in Chicago. The new Amazon Studios mystery series Utopia is another Chicago-based project, as reported by IMDbPro. Paskal and Rudnicke cast the series, which will star John Cusack and center on a group of young adults who come across a cult graphic novel. The discovery gives them the opportunity to save the world.
Visit their website for more information on the casting team. The site is currently under construction but includes contact information for both Paskal and Rudnicke as well as for Alexis Jade Links. Links’ credits on IMDb for Widows, South Side, Shameless, Fargo and Utopia are all listed at the associate level, but if Paskal Rudnicke Casting is on your list, be sure to learn more about Links as well. She is active on Instagram as @alexisjadelinks, and you can also follow @prcasting for posts from the casting company.
Karge + Ross Casting
Christal Karge and Marisa Ross are the backbone of this casting firm. The pair cast the first four seasons of NBC’s Chicago Med, currently in its fifth season, which also shoots in the city. Karge and Ross have also handled the Chicago casting for Showtime Networks’ The Chi, currently in its third season. Lena Waithe created the drama series being filmed at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios. Up next for the two casting directors is the thriller 100 Days to Live set to star Colin Egglesfield. The feature also lists Ross as an executive producer on the project, an important fact to note for those interested in getting to know her more. The film is currently in post-production, and no surprise, it was shot in Chicago.
The Karge + Ross Casting Facebook page offers periodic updates, which include casting notices. Actors interested in the Chicago market should keep an eye out for those posts in particular. Ross is also active on Instagram as @marisajross. Karge is on the social media platform as @cakarge. The latter has a private account, but actors interested in connecting with Karge can request to follow her.
Claire Simon runs the show at Simon Casting. She’s been on the casting team for multiple seasons of Empire. In fact, IMDbPro reports she’s helped cast 85 episodes of the popular Fox Network show from Lee Daniels. Simon has also cast multiple seasons of Netflix’s Easy, including its most recent third season. The comedy series follows a group of friends in Chicago, where the show is also filmed. Multiple seasons of NBC’s Chicago Fire and
Chicago P.D. also has Simon to thank for their cast. Actors focused on booking episodic shows shot in The Windy City should definitely add Simon to their target lists. As for projects to look out for, Simon cast Jordan Peele’s upcoming feature Candyman. Dubbed a “spiritual sequel” to the 1992 cult horror favorite of the same name, Peele’s iteration takes audiences back to the Chicago neighborhood where the legend began.
To learn more about Simon, check out her website, which includes a particularly heartwarming anecdote about the first casting gig she landed as a 10-year-old. The casting director is also active on Instagram as @clairesimoncasting.
O’Connor Casting Company
David O’Connor owns the company, and he’s an important casting director for Chicago actors to know. He helped cast the first season of ABC’s Final Witness and has recently cast two thriller films: last year’s Hunting God and next year’s Deep Woods. O’Connor has also cast a wide range of commercials over his years in the industry, and the O’Connor Casting Company site includes an impressive list of clients with whom the company has worked. The site is a good place to start for actors looking to learn more about O’Connor and his company. The latter is active on its Twitter account, @oconnorcasting, where actors can find recent projects it has cast.
No matter where they’re based, actors would be wise to keep an eye on the casting news out of Chicago. Filmmakers Steve McQueen and Jordan Peele have recently shot projects in Chicago while topline actors like William H. Macy and Viola Davis have filmed and continue to film projects there. You never know where “the credit” will come from, the one that takes your career to a whole other level. It may just be found in Chicago, the Midwest’s own little empire of film and TV.