This paper presents a history of casting and explores why casting is important to our understanding of cinema. Throughout the history of film production, there has not been a discernible standard casting process. This is indicative of a general lack of interest in casting since the advent of film. Instead, casting practices operated as a series of phases which corresponded with and were influenced by contemporary trends in cinema. In the earliest days of film, the focus of cinematic inventors such as Thomas Edison and the Lumière Brothers lay on technological innovation and the ability to produce unprecedented visual effects rather than on storytelling and acting ability. This initial lack of interest in casting persisted until films increased in length and film narratives increased in complexity, populated with equally complex characters. Facilitated by technological advancements, this newfound focus ushered in a new stage in the history of casting where the quality of acting became increasingly important. Screen stars of the 1910s shed their initial anonymity and studios began cultivating stables of stars in order to capitalise on their marquee value. The control of the Hollywood studio system persisted for several years but eventually collapsed, allowing stars to exercise greater autonomy in choosing roles. The evolution of the casting process and the gradual prominence of stars had a direct impact on who was cast in films. These developments can be traced in the emerging genres of epic and peplum films set in ancient Rome. This paper draws on the character type of a strongman hero as a case study to illustrate why the intricacies and development of the casting process are important to the history of cinema abstracts.

About Classics and Ancient History Seminars

Event details

  • The seminars take place at 4pm, in the Michie Building (09), Room 536
  • Seminars are also on Zoom. Send an email to Duncan Keenan-Jones ( for the link.
  • Upcoming seminars can be found here.
  • Please be aware that we are still operating under Covid-19 regulations during public events. Masks are no longer required at UQ locations - however, UQ strongly encourages mask wearing when physical distancing is not possible. UQ strongly encourages all campus attendees to be up to date with vaccinations. And finally, those who are feeling unwell, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the previous 7 days or have been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 7 days, are asked not to attend this seminar.
  • For those attending in person, if you would like to join us for drinks and/or dinner afterwards at UQ’s St. Lucy's from 5:15 pm, please RSVP by email to Duncan Keenan-Jones ( by 9am on the day of the seminar.
  • Please also contact Duncan Keenan-Jones should you have questions about the event.

The Friends of Antiquity, an alumni organisation of the University, runs its own series of public lectures, which take place on Sunday afternoons. The Friends’ program for can be found at