Not only is Kenny Ortega a great director, but he’s extremely talented at finding amazing talent for his movies. During HollywoodLife.com‘s recent podcast, the legendary producer told us he really loves the process of casting — he also explained how he discovered Zac Efron ahead of filming High School Musical, as well as the cast of The Descendants 2. “[Casting] is a process that I really enjoy, and the Disney Channel enables us to really take our time. I’ve always said I’m not only looking for actors that can sing and dance. I’m looking for partners. Young people that are gonna come, that have ideas, that are brave, that are courageous, that are generous to other actors and that aren’t reliant on just me giving them guidance and direction but they come in with whole ideas. That’s what I say is the continuity of both of those movies, High School Musical and Descendants — that we landed incredible young partners that come to the day everyday ready to play and it makes my life so much more fun and makes the space so much more creative,” he told us.
When asked if he knew Zac would go on to become a huge star, he said, “Honestly, we all believed [it]. We believe in all of the young people that we cast. We really take our time. We took months before we casted High School Musical and we looked endlessly and Zac was up against 600 guys for that role. Honestly, we didn’t go out one weekend and find Zac and say ‘Well, let’s put our faith in him.’ We put him through a real test. This guy had to come in and do it all. He had to work with all different kinds of other actors and actresses until the end of the day we all came together and said, ‘This guy is magical. This guy has something really unique and really special and he can lead this group into this movie.’ So yeah, I did have belief in him, as I do today with the kids we’re working with on Descendants 2.”
To hear what else Kenny had to say about the casting process, listen to our new podcast HERE! And don’t forget, Descendants 2 premieres tonight (July 21) at 8pm ET on Disney, Disney XD, ABC, Lifetime, Lifetime Movies, and Freeform.
HollywoodLifers, are YOU happy Kenny Ortega discovered Zac Efron? Are you excited for The Descendants 2? Tell us below!