Susan Seidelman on casting Madonna as Susan
In honor of Women’s History Month, Variety‘s Pat Saperstein talks to director Susan Seidelman, who’s diving back into television with a project hatched during the pandemic, discussing what was like working as a woman director in the ‘80s, shooting the Sex and the City pilot, casting Madonna for Desperately Seeking Susan, and much more.
Here is an excerpt of their great conversation – check out the full story at Variety.
How did casting the Susan part come about?
We first started out going the more traditional route, auditioning young up-and-coming actresses. I remember some of them were like Ellen Barkin, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Melanie Griffith. They were all wonderful. But for me, coming out of downtown Manhattan, I had enjoyed working with Richard Hell, I thought it would be good to work with somebody who had a persona.
I thought maybe we should look at the music sector to see if there was somebody there who could be interesting. Living downtown about two streets away from Madonna, I knew who she was. She had a video on MTV, I could see she had something. So I talked Orion into letting me do tests with her, and the screen test was successful. They liked her.
During the nine and a half weeks that we were shooting, her Like a Virgin album got released and it was like watching a skyrocket. She was on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and watching that rise so quickly was fascinating. By the time we were in our last week of shooting, there was security and all the things that are needed when you shoot with stars on the street.