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Mali Finn, at 69; casting director

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Dennis McLellan
Los Angeles Times / December 9, 2007

LOS ANGELES - Mali Finn, an award-winning Hollywood casting director whose credits include "Titanic," "L.A. Confidential," and "The Matrix," has died. She was 69.

Mrs. Finn died of melanoma Nov. 28 at her home in Sonoma her son, David, said.

A former English and drama teacher, Mrs. Finn launched her Hollywood casting career after she and her husband, Donn, a theater professor, moved from Holland, Mich., to Newport Beach in 1981.

Mrs. Finn had a handful of casting credits behind her, including the 1987 film "The Untouchables," when she formed Mali Finn Casting in 1989.

From then until cancer forced her to retire in 2006, she cast nearly 80 movies and television series, including the films "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," "The Client," "The Green Mile," "Batman & Robin," "Phone Booth," "North Country" and "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford."

Director Curtis Hanson worked with Mrs. Finn on four of his films - "L.A. Confidential," "Wonder Boys," "8 Mile" and "Lucky You."

"The world of each was very specific, and Mali loved plunging into those worlds, trying to help make the movie as truthful a representation as possible," Hanson said via e-mail this week.

Casting, he said, "can be a very tedious process, but Mali's enthusiasm never flagged."

Director James Cameron, whose "Titanic," "True Lies," "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and the upcoming "Battle Angel," were cast by Mrs. Finn, was another admirer of her work.

"Mali was a genius at finding undiscovered treasure amongst the sea of new faces," he said in a statement. "Many of this generation of stars owe their starts to her. She was a great creative partner, and I will miss her deeply."

Mrs. Finn was born Mary Alice Mann on March 8, 1938, in Danville, Ill., and later moved to Minneapolis. She began acting in third grade and received a bachelor's degree in theater from the University of Minnesota.

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