Sometimes, just sharing horror stories about auditions can help us actors feel better about the day-to-day craziness that we must endure. A new documentary called “Showing Up” chronicles the insanity that actors must go through in auditions. Some of the stories you hear from well known (and not so well known) actors about the audition process are truly unbelievable — but that’s how you know they’re true! Be sure to take a look at the clips from this documentary. Personally, I can’t wait to see more.
In the meantime, I’ll share a couple of stories that have been burned into my memory in an attempt to help show that we’re all in the same boat:
1. During an especially hectic pilot season, I had 30 minutes to rush to an audition across town. I got there with three minutes left to spare and there was no one in the tiny reception room except the casting assistant. She pleasantly tells me that I’m good, just have a seat and the casting director will be out to get me in a second. I wipe off the sweat on my forehead (I broke into a sweat trying to rush there) and try to catch my breath. All of a sudden, the casting director (who I will NEVER name) comes out of the room into the reception area — and she’s on a mission. She rushes over to the assistant and begins SCREAMING at her about some paperwork that was done incorrectly. At this point, I don’t even remember exactly what she was ranting about, I just remember her cursing loudly at her assistant for more than five minutes and then ending it by calling her a HORRIBLE name right in front of me (starts with a B and ends in an ITCH). I was SHOCKED. I have never heard that type of tirade in a professional environment, let alone in a casting office. Then, the casting director turns to me and says: “Come on in.”
Needless to say, I was still in shock. I might have thought that this was an act, to see if I could handle being “rattled,” but the assistant’s tears were enough to tell me it was all too real. Now I understand that these people are under a crazy amount of pressure, but I couldn’t believe what I’d seen. Either way, though, I had to follow her into the casting room and perform, right? Today, I’m not so sure I would. But back then, I did. I went in the room. The casting director turned on the camera and I read the sides with her — to the light-hearted comedy project that I was there for.
Let’s just say it wasn’t my best audition. I don’t think I did that badly considering, but I know I just wanted to leave more than anything else. I know people have to put up with a lot in this business, but I have never understood why we have to take abuse like that poor assistant did. And I felt like it wasn’t fair that I had to be sucked into that bad energy either.
2. I was at an audition for a film with a very well known actress. The script was great, the part was great, it was an audition I knew I could do well with. I went in the room (with a very nice casting director with whom I’d never read) and read the first scene. The casting director was moved by the audition, she took a deep breath and said “wow.” I was prepared to leave and she stopped me. She said “I’m really impressed.” I thanked her. I started to leave again. She continued to tell me how she had expected me to be bad, REALLY bad (why? I wondered) and how surprised she was about how well I did. Okay, I thought. Again, I prepared to leave, thinking she was done. She stopped me again. She told me again how well I did. I thanked her for the fourth time. As I put my hand on the doorknob, she said she just wanted to let me know that there was no way I was going to get the part. I wasn’t the right look.
These types of experiences are actually more reassuring than disturbing in a funny way . She was honest with me and I left the room without that false sense of hope that you often carry after an audition that you know went well. However, it does make you wonder why you’re going in for certain roles in the first place if even your “impressive” audition can’t win the “looks over talent” battle.
All in all, though, I believe that each audition (crazy or not) is a valuable learning experience and I hope to get better after each one. Share your stories, I’d love to hear them!