The casting director for some of TV’s top animated shows is all ears.
Linda Lamontagne sees herself as more of a coach than the casting director of several popular animated series — including Netflix’s BoJack Horseman, Cartoon Network’s Robot Chicken and Crackle’s SuperMansion, premiering its third season on May 7.
“We’re all on the same team,” she says, “trying to get someone to a job. And I’m going to help them get there.”
That mentality leads Lamontagne to help performers with their lines, often talking them through their scripts over the phone. She is equally generous when it comes to submissions. “I’ll let anybody and everybody audition,” she says. “If they’re willing to lay it down, I’m willing to listen.”
The casting director, who won the Casting Society of America’s (CSA) 2018 Artios Award for her work on BoJack Horseman — after claiming three of the five TV animation nominations — has also worked on Family Guy, American Dad!, The Powerpuff Girls, The Magic School Bus Rides Again and TBS’s upcoming Close Enough.
She first became interested in casting while working at a talent agency, deciding a year later — during a brief stint at a distribution company — to drop off a stack of résumés at the CSA, where one was picked up by casting director Karen Vice. “I couldn’t have had a better mentor,” Lamontagne remembers. “She’d just come off Moonlighting, and she decided to give me a shot.”
It was under Vice’s tutelage that she worked on the 1990s comedy classics Roseanne and Cybill. In 1999 she was launched into animation by the Fox sitcom Family Guy. While she didn’t set out to work strictly in voiceover casting, she says now: “I love the animation world. You can go anywhere with it. You’re not reliant upon what somebody looks like.”
That openness to finding talent from any source means that Lamontagne rarely stops working. “When I’m out in public and hear somebody with an interesting voice, I’ll ask them if they want to audition,” she says.
She even makes use of the occasional bout of insomnia, combing the internet late at night for potential talent, frequently returning to the same well: talk shows. “I really get the essence of the performer, because they come to life,” she explains. “Especially if it’s a great interviewer who lets them perform. You’ll get little pieces of them doing a voice or going into character.”
Lamontagne also turns to singers (“They’re able to work a microphone, and a crowd”) and performers on multi-camera sitcoms (“It’s almost like theater, where they have to play to a live audience”). To stay focused during auditions, she often doesn’t watch the actors, instead listening and hoping that they’ll convey a character’s movement and emotion with their voice.
“In live action, you have everything in front of you to connect with,” she says. “But in voiceover, you’re in a booth by yourself, having to create an entire world. And we as an audience have to hear it.”
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 3, 2018