Bonnie Timmermann, who is the woman who discovered Natalie Portman (and many other 90s stars)

Bonnie Timmermann has shaped cinema, TV and society with her ideas

Natalie Portman, Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver, Bruce Willis, Benicio del Toro, Chris Rock. These are just a few of the many names launched into the star syestem by a famous casting director that many insiders consider legendary: Bonnie Timmermann. It is to her that director Simon Wallon has dedicated Bonnie, the documentary presented at the Venice Film Festival in the Venice Classics section which celebrates her role, which is too often underestimated or poorly understood. And instead Timmermann, along her prolific career, especially in the 80s and 90s, with her selections has been able to shape cinema and TV. And then, let’s add, society. How? Giving minorities a chance and to the young generations new faces to look up to, also imposing diversity in a pioneering way.

Know how to look far

In addition to the words of the casting director herself, Bonnie winds through interviews with successful actors, actresses and directors who have worked with her and the viewing of many rare (or even unpublished) footage of auditions and tryouts from her invaluable archive. Bonnie Timmermann watched them, trying to combine the candidates’ talents with the needs of the script. He has always seen far, he has always hit the target.

Responsible of our emotions

Director Simon Wallon He explained: “The first time I met Bonnie Timmerman, I couldn’t help but stare into her eyes. She has a way of seeing through people, like a sixth sense that many of us don’t have. Bonnie had a big impact on the movies and series we watched, spreading his vision in our collective unconscious». It is therefore Bonnie Timmermann – who launched cult films such as An armchair for two (1983), The karate kid (1984), Carlito’s way (1993), Heat (1995, where she launched Natalie Portman: in the film we see her casting) – the person responsible for many emotions that we experienced as great cinema lovers.

Alongside minorities (and women)

His choices – defended tooth and nail – to introduce minorities into films were fundamental. In the tv series Miami deputy (1984), for example, wanted characters played by African-American, Indigenous, Latino, and Asian actors: it put them at the forefront in a way they had never been in American television before. In fact, Timmermann has always fought for a principle: the authenticity. To be found at all costs in the face of an interpreter who was to become a character. And also equality and gender equality. Often Bonnie changed the identity of the character, choosing a woman over a man.

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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