Kressel Honored for Career Casting ‘Law & Order’

By Purnell T. Cropper | June 23, 2010

Lynn Kressel, Class of 1970, an Emmy-Award winning casting director, is the 2010 recipient of the Golden Disc for Distinguished Achievement, presented by the Alumni Association at the alumni Reunion in June.

Kressel also was in the area on June 20 for the launch of the New Hope Film Festival, giving an acceptance speech after being given a Lifetime Achievement Award from supporters and organizers of the week-long festival.

The Golden Disc Award for Distinguished Achievement is presented to an alum for significant accomplishment and outstanding achievement in business, the professions or the community, that greatly enhance the prestige of Arcadia University.

As an undergraduate, Kressel majored in English with a passion for theater. She studied Shakespeare along with other dramatists and playwrights, and she took advantage of her semester abroad in London to go to the theater several times a week. This study abroad opportunity opened up a world of possibilities for her. After she graduated, she shifted from studying English at Arcadia to enrolling in a doctoral program in drama at New York University.

She became an Emmy-award winning casting director running her own New York-based casting agency and working on box office movies and TV shows, including Law & Order, a show that recently ended its historic 20-season run.

Kressel was nominated to receive the Artios Award for Best Casting and the Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement for numerous TV miniseries, dramatic and comedic episodes, pilots, series and movies. In 1989 she won the first-ever Emmy Award for a casting director—Outstanding Achievement in Casting for a Miniseries or a Special—for Lonesome Dove, a 1989 miniseries based on Larry McMurtry’s novel.

In 1990, Kressel became an independent casting director and consultant with Universal Television. In 1991 she won the Artios Award for Best Casting for TV Pilot, Northern Exposure and Best Casting for TV, Dramatic Episodic, Law & Order. In 1994 she won the Artios Award for Best Casting for TV Miniseries, Stephen King’s The Stand. Feature films include Nights in Rodanthe with Richard Gere and Diane Lane (2008) and For Love of the Game with Kevin Costner (2000). She was nominated for the Emmy in casting two HBO projects: Warm Springs with Kenneth Branagh as FDR (2005) and Something the Lord Made with Mos Def, Alan Rickman and Kyra Sedgwick (2004).

Her casting of Law & Order remains a highlight of her career. She recalls, “I love working for the Law & Order shows. I cast the original Law & Order pilot about 22 years ago. It has been a part of my life for so long that it is difficult to contemplate life without it.” She casts the series’ regular roles for the three Law & Order shows, but has given up the episodic casting in order to pursue other projects that include producing an independent feature film as well as two television series.

Kressel applies the same basic principle to any project, whether she is casting for a feature film like Spider-Man or the last Ricky Gervais film cast, The Invention of Lying. She looks for actors with depth and commitment in their performances, but she also tries to find actors who surprise her in some way. She explains, “I believe the unexpected enriches any project.”

(Photo: Carl Kosola,