It’s January, so as network drama and comedy executives are narrowing their choices of pilot scripts, their casting counterparts are compiling wish lists of actors to pursue. Pilot Season 2016 is shaping up to be another very competitive one, with some acting talent also targeted by cable and streaming projects.
Last year, the actors wanted by virtually every drama pilot, Jaimie Alexander and Sullivan Stapleton, both chose NBC pilot Blindspot, which went on to become the breakout new series of the season. Who will be this year’s most sought after actors?
With the Downton Abbey sentiment running high as the British series airs its final episodes just as pilot season gets underway, the popular drama seems to be on casting executives’ minds. I hear original male lead Dan Stevens is among the actors most wanted by U.S. networks for pilots. Stevens’ former onscreen love, Downton star Michelle Dockery, took that route last year with the TNT pilot Good Behavior, which recently was picked up to series.
Coming off a flashy role on the most recent season of Homeland, Miranda Otto also is making wish lists, as is Rachel McAdams, who starred in True Detective‘s second installment and just got Oscar-nominated for her role in Spotlight. And with the end of Community, Alison Brie is sought after for comedy pilots, along with her former co-star Joel McHale.
Craig Robinson, who toplined his own NBC series, is expected to be in high demand for comedy, while the star of another short-lived series, Battle Creek‘s Josh Duhamel, will also likely get feelers. Despite Minority Report not being officially canceled, star Meagan Good is expected to again be in demand for lead roles, along with The Player‘s Philip Winchester.
Stars of smash Straight Outta Compton also seem to be in demand, with Corey Hawkins and O’Shea Jackson mentioned. Sigourney Weaver is being courted, as are other feature players, Jim Sturgess, Anna Kendrick and Kate Hudson.
Former Good Wife leading man, Josh Charles, who jumped back into the series water following his shocking exit from the CBS legal drama with an arc on Masters of Sex, is expected to make the offer lists, as is his his former co-star Archie Panjabi. Ditto for another recent series departee, The Mindy Project‘s Adam Pally.
Regina King, an Emmy winner for American Crime, may be in play and in demand as she has a one-season deal. Mexican actor Adan Canto has been working continuously on American television over the past couple of years, including playing the male lead in the NBC pilot The Curse of the Fuentes Women last year. He has been pursued for talent holding deals and is poised for more pilot action this season.
Long-running comedies The League and Mike & Molly, both drawing to a close, are their making experienced comic talent available. While Melissa McCarthy is considered out of reach as she flies high in features, most of the other actors will be available, while The League‘s Katie Aselton also getting some early attention. Available for the first time in eight years and expected to get calls for pilot duty is Mark Feuerstein as his veteran USA series Royal Pains is coming to an end. Same goes for Tim Olyphant and Walton Goggins of FX’s recently departed Justified, with the former expected to stay in the cable/digital space. Also on lists: Dexter‘s Michael C Hall.
Other names mentioned early on include Peter Sarsgaard, Olivia Munn, Adam Rodriguez, Julianne Nicholson, Patrick Wilson, JB Smoove, Aubrey Plaza, Carmen Ejogo, Rainn Wilson, Karl Urban and Busy Philips.