After close to two decades working on a slew of cornerstone franchises and Oscar-winning films, Warner Bros. head of casting Lora Kennedy is departing the studio as she transitions into her own creative venture as a casting director. Warner Bros. President of Production Courtenay Valenti announced the news in an internal memo to staff today.
Kennedy is from a notable casting lineage at the Warner lot. She started her career with former Warner Bros. casting boss Wally Nicita who in turn was a protege of former late Warner Bros. casting icon Marion Dougherty who was known for casting Richard Donner’s Lethal Weapon movies and putting Michael Keaton in the bat suit for Tim Burton’s first Batman movie, as well as discovering Robert Redford, Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman.
Kennedy was hands-on in casting Syriana which won George Clooney a best supporting actor Oscar, and part of the talent search when it came to finding a fresh face for a new Superman in Man of Steels (Henry Cavill) and DC’s femme superhero Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). Argo went on to take the SAG best ensemble award before winning the Oscar for best picture. In addition, Kennedy oversaw the casting on a number of future Warner Bros. releases including the upcoming Ocean’s 8, DC’s Aquaman and John Crowley’s drama The Goldfinch due out next year.
Below is Valenti’s memo:
I wanted to let you know that Lora Kennedy, who has headed up our casting team for almost 20 years and been an integral part of the Warner Bros. Pictures family, will be leaving her post in the coming weeks. As she segues into new creative ventures, we look forward to continuing to work with her.
Lora has worked on so many of our iconic films, her work reads like a catalog of Warner Bros.’ greatest hits. She personally handled the casting for Syriana, The Town, Argo (for which she won an Artios Award and a SAG Award for best ensemble cast), Cloud Atlas, Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman and Justice League.
As the head of our casting department, she also oversaw the casting of such films as the Harry Potter films, the Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, the Sherlock Holmes movies, The Hangover trilogy, Gravity, The Departed, Mad Max: Fury Road, Suicide Squad, the first two Fantastic Beasts films and Ready Player One as well as the upcoming Ocean’s 8, Aquaman and Goldfinch. And those are just the highlights.
Her groundbreaking work in casting has been widely recognized by her peers—Lora received the Artios Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012—and by the industry at large for her key role in forming the casting branch of the Academy, for which she now serves as a Governor.
On a personal note, Lora and I have worked together for more than 20 years, and I’ve admired her talent and valued her partnership on so many films. Our films are all the better because of Lora’s work on them.
While I will miss her in our daily staff meetings, I look forward to benefitting from her amazing taste on the movies on which we will work together going forward.
Please join me in wishing Lora all the best as she starts her next chapter.