This is an Open Casting Call for MAJOR Motion Picture for 20th Century Fox, “WE BOUGHT A ZOO,” directed by Cameron Crowe the Oscar-winning director of Jerry Maguire & Almost Famous. We Bought A Zoo” is based on the true life story of Benjamin Mee and his family and how he and his family used their life savings to buy a dilapidated zoo and restored it to its former glory.

Casting for the roles of:

  • Rosie: Enthusiastic and positive, wise beyond her years… loves animals. A girl, 6 – 8 years old – a lead role.  Benjamin’s 6-year-old and extremely lively daughter (submit 6-8 to play 6). Rosie is a loving and disarmingly adorable child, even with the death of her mother, which she seems to handle better than her father and brother. She’s an old soul and is able to share her love for just about everything, especially the animals at the zoo. One might forget that she is only 6 years old, as Rosie seems to be the glue keeping her family together, but she needs her family as much as any other child.
  • Dylan: Shy, creative, awkward but soulful. He’s an artist, loves to draw. A boy, 14- 16 years old – a lead role.  Benjamin’s 14-year-old son (submit 13-18 to play 14). Dylan took his mother’s death very hard and retreated into his world of drawing but took it to an oddly dark place. He is a creative & talented young artist but outside observers worry about what he is actually drawing… and what it’s missing. Constantly in trouble at school, he gets suspended and expelled often – not a bad kid, just a misunderstood misfit. Dylan isn’t much of a big brother or a son until the journey of the zoo sheds new light on his dark world. He has deep feelings behind his eyes with an edgy style, not unlike what a young Tim Burton must have been like.
  • Lily: A 14-16 year old girl who is smart and appealing, a horse lover who has grown up living a country life. Curious and open, the opposite of Dylan. A great supporting role!  15-years-old and a rural beauty (submit 14-19 to play 15). She works at the zoo’s restaurant but she’s too young to work legally so she’s paid under the table and she, too, lives on the property. Her only parental figure seems to be Kelly from whom she learns to be at great ease with the animals. When Dylan arrives at the zoo, she finds him immediately fascinating. Her little world is rocked by his city boy looks and she doesn’t hold back in her quirky flirtatiousness and daily sandwich deliveries.

Please visit http://www.weboughtazoocasting.com/ for details on how to audition.

This website submission is not intended for children who have agents and managers, and those who are represented should submit through their representation only.  If you get stuck with the filming of your audition, contact tapinghelp@weboughtazoocasting.com

ABOUT BENJAMIN MEE (Courtesy HarperCollins):

“Chuck it all in and buy a zoo? Why not?” thought Benjamin Mee, unaware of the grim living conditions, creditors and escaped big cat that lay in wait…

In 2006 Benjamin Mee left an idyllic life in France to run a dilapidated zoo on the edge of Dartmoor complete with 200 wild animals. He had no previous experience of managing staff, running a visitor attraction, or looking after animals. Nor had his wife, Katherine, his 76-year-old mother or his brother, all of whom he persuaded to join him in pursuing his dream. What they lacked in experience they made up for with enthusiasm and in July 2007, the Dartmoor Zoological Park, as it had become, was reopened to the public.  The amazing story of how Ben and his family turned a dream into reality is told in We Bought a Zoo.

When Ben arrived at the zoo he found his extended family included African lions, Siberian tigers and European brown bears not to mention wolves, monkeys, ostriches and snakes. Within days he was coping with a major ‘Code Red’ situation as the jaguar, Sovereign, executed a cunning escape plan. Luckily, his escape route led him straight into the tiger enclosure where he was recaptured some hours later but Ben knew that the dream could have ended there had the jaguar run off.

Escaped jaguars, big cats with toothache (the vet’s bill for dentistry was £8000!), warring vervet monkeys, fighting off creditors and securing loans from banks, were just some of the problems that Ben had to deal with during the first few months. However, none of them compared with the tragedy that struck the family soon after arriving in Devon.

Ben’s wife Katherine, having already survived and recovered from the removal of a brain tumour, became ill once more.  Looking after her in her final days became another task to add to the day-to-day complexities of running the zoo an preparing for the opening. In March 2007 Katherine died leaving Ben alone to bring up their two small children, Milo and Ella, as well as the ever growing menagerie of animals.

We Bought a Zoo charts the family’s attempts to rebuild the park, and their lives following Katherine’s death. It’s an amazing true story of following a dream and coping with personal tragedy which is both inspiring and at times deeply moving.    The reopening of the park was chronicled in the four-part BBC2 series, Ben’s Zoo.  A former bricklayer, decorator and Guardian columnist on DIY, Benjamin Mee also studied and wrote about animal behaviour. It was while living in France and writing a book on the Evolution of Humour in Man and Animals that the zoo came up for sale.

Thank you to Casting Workbook for making us aware of this open call.