Now the roles have been reversed, and Timmermann is the on-screen star of Bonnie, a film portrait of her life and career. On Nov. 16, Fordham played host to an exclusive screening of the documentary and a Q&A with Timmermann herself at its Lincoln Center campus.
In his opening remarks, Gerry Byrne, FCRH ’66, vice chairman of Penske Media, highlighted his personal friendship with Timmermann and her influence on the industry at large.
“Her involvement with the success of so many really important pictures and platforms has really made a difference in this world that we live in,” said Byrne, who hosted the event at Fordham.
After the film, Timmermann spoke with Brent Lang, executive editor of Variety Magazine, a Penske publication, about her career and her uniquely empathetic approach to casting.
“You just have to feel your way into it,” she said of building her signature rapport with actors. “Ask them if they have any good jokes or why they became an actor. I think sitting down and talking to an actor is very important, so you get to know who they are.”
Some of the actors Timmermann helped discover, such as Tony, Emmy, and Academy Award winner Kevin Kline and Moonlight star André Holland, were on hand to celebrate with her.
Laura Auricchio, Ph.D., dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center, said that she was grateful for the opportunity to screen the film at the Lincoln Center campus.
“It was a true honor to welcome so many luminaries of the stage and screen, and a tremendous opportunity for the students in our theatre and film/TV programs to get a behind-the-scenes look at the casting process,” she said. “I hope this will be just the first of many such screenings as we strive to make the most of our incomparable Lincoln Center location.”
‘Just Keep Reading’
The enthusiastic crowd of students, faculty, and industry insiders laughed and applauded throughout the screening—most notably in response to several home video clips featuring Timmermann’s interviews with stars before they were household names, such as Liam Neeson, Kate Winslet, and Laurence Fishburne.
Dillyn Green, a Fordham College at Rose Hill sophomore originally from Atlanta, planned her schedule around the event to make sure she could attend.
“I had class at Lincoln Center at 10 a.m., but I just stayed here the rest of the day,” she said at the pre-event reception. “I want to be a director, but I also want to learn all the different jobs that other people do behind the scenes. I just want to learn how to get my foot in the door.”
Timmermann fielded questions from students like Green after the screening, who asked about her career path, the entertainment industry, and the advice she gives to actors.
“Read,” Timmermann said before the question was finished. “Just keep reading. Actors are more interesting when they have beliefs and can talk about what’s happening in the world.”
When asked how watching the film made her evaluate her decades of mentorship and enormous success, Timmermann took a minute to answer.
“I’m still trying to get it right,” she said. “Once you think you know it all, you know very little.”