put him over to this part.’ The whole cast didn't click in until we had all of the elements. It was almost like a jigsaw puzzle to say this guy works here and this kid works there. You can't just say this is the best kid for the part. You ask if this the best kid for the part, in connection with this other kid who is going to play against him, and this other kid is going to be his best friend. It was a fun movie to cast because you did no one part in isolation,” explains Johnson.
“There was a frustrating time when we weren’t finding Billy and we were really stuck, because you couldn’t cast anyone else - the dad, the mom, the little brother, the other boys - until you had Billy,” adds Steuer.
“Casting took us a long time because we cast everything around Billy,” agrees Dolman. “We had about 30 young actors who were contenders to play the parts of the other boys. It’s like pulling together a team and making sure that you have your pitcher first. When we found Luke Benward to play Billy, then the rest of the casting happened rather quickly.”
The filmmakers ended up casting kids from California, Nevada, Tennessee, New Jersey, Texas, Oklahoma and Florida to complete the puzzle. “Because of the interlocking nature of the cast, one of the funny things our casting director Stephanie Corsalini said to Bob Dolman was ‘you’ll look back on this and you’ll say to yourself ‘I couldn’t have done this movie with any other cast,’” adds Steuer.
“The part of Billy the protagonist was probably the toughest one because we required so much of that boy, we need to see him at his lows and at his highs. We have got to see a boy who is, through a great deal of the movie, in a panic because he's made a bet that he knows in his heart he can't possibly win,” explains Johnson.
“Choosing Billy was difficult,” agrees Bob Dolman. “I was not only looking for someone who could act the part, but someone who had the energy to carry the part. I don't know of any other movie where the lead child actor is in almost every single scene. That's just exhausting, hard work for any actor. In addition, we shot in Austin, Texas in summer weather that was hot - 90 degrees plus, and humid - without exception every day. So sheer stamina was important. We were all looking for a kid who could carry that and