When choosing the cast for the film, directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris were assisted by casting directors Kim Davis and Justine Baddely who had worked with them on previous music videos. The directors had initially settled on Greg Kinnear to portray Richard Hoover. However, for the character of Sheryl Hoover, they considered several actresses before deciding on Australian actress Toni Collette. Davis and Baddely traveled to "every English-speaking country" to search for the actress to portray Olive Hoover, and they finally chose actress Abigail Breslin through an audition when she was six. Paul Dano was cast as Dwayne two years before production began and in preparation for portraying his character, spent a few days taking his own vow of silence. Alan Arkin, who portrayed Edwin Hoover, was initially considered too young for the role.
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