Un-Hollywood It List: Avy Kaufman

Talking with Avy Kaufman about which movie she's had the most fun casting over the past 20 years is a bit like asking Philip Glass if he has a favorite note. Having worked with Hollywood giants like Robert Redford, Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg; indie auteurs like Ang Lee, David Mamet, Lars von Trier and a slew of others, Kaufman has probably had more impact on you as a moviegoer than any single director. Because while the director calls the shots, it is people like Kaufman who determine who will forever embody the characters we love, hate and ideally, feel we know intimately in the movies. Struggling actors can find relief in her method: "Intuition," she says without pause. "I just have to trust my intuition."

Over two decades in the business have no doubt helped Kaufman hone that intuition to a razor's edge, but there must also be something else, something less identifiable behind her success. After all, she pushed for Toni Collette and Haley Joel Osment to play lead roles in M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense. And she worked with Lars von Trier on both Dancer in the Dark and Dogville without ever meeting the infamous control freak in person. Such a record -- and the respect it has earned -- suggests that Kaufman's intuition is not your garden-variety gut instinct. Indeed, maybe she sees living characters... all the time.
David Alm * Photographed by Katherine Wolkoff

Avy Kaufman wears a dress by Lela Rose and shoes by Manolo Blahnik * Styling by Kristen Naiman * Hair by Sarah Potempa for Aussie at the Wall Group * Assistant to photographer: Stephen Meierding * Assistant to stylist: Janicza Bravo * Intern: Emily Warman

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