Louie is obviously a series that’s always been very experimental in regards to format, subject matter and casting. I won’t get too into that since people who are far more articulate than I am have said many more words on the topic. However, one thing that’s always struck me as odd is that while Louie’s ex-wife, played by actress Susan Kelechi Watson, is obviously African-American — Louie’s daughters, Jane and Lilly, are white.
And not just white, but fair-skinned, blonde haired Nordic-looking white. So what was the logic behind this? Business Insider spoke with Louie’s casting director, Gayle Keller on the subject, and she shed some light onto the decision:
“We play around with ethnicities. Janet is African American, but both of their kids are white and Louie’s white so how does that work? Look, it probably doesn’t make sense but Louie wanted to cast someone to play his on-screen ex-wife who was unlike his real ex-wife,” casting director Gayle Keller tells Business Insider. “He didn’t want that much reality in this show.”
“We auditioned people who were African American and white, we auditioned both,” explains Keller. “We didn’t limit ourselves to someone who was just Caucasian. Louis just felt that the woman who we cast [Watson] was best for the part and she happened to be African American and he didn’t care about that. He didn’t feel like he had to explain that in any way and have two Caucasian children and an African American wife.”
Keller also revealed why they made the decision to make Janet white in the season four flashback, saying that they auditioned actresses who were African American, Caucasian, and Asian. I actually did not even realize that was supposed to be Janet, and figured it was some other ex-wife that came before Janet, which is exactly why I don’t write think pieces on Louie.
“Ethnicity is not what was important for that role,” says Keller. “It was more about the fact that we wanted someone who just understood the character immediately. All of the actors who come in to audition go on tape and they only get the material when they get to the audition. Everything is a cold reading because Louis likes when actors are not that prepared and forced to go with their instincts.”
Anyway, there you go, mystery solved. Louis CK doesn’t see race, you guys, he sees people. We’re basically all just a bunch of neanderthals for wondering in the first place.