Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"We'll get back to you...Next!"

by carol

What do the greatest actors and the lowliest extras have in common? What provokes the same feelings in the celebrity whose name is above the movie title and the bit actor whose work ended up on the film cutting room floor?

It is the dreaded audition, that act of putting your talent, your appearance and your emotions in front of strangers who assess and pass judgment on your ability to make a living as an actor.
“I'm the worst auditioner, really, really bad. I mean, you're being judged and I'm just so aware of it that it consumes me. I can't relax, I'm tied in knots, so the voice is very taut and tense. You're so aware that you're acting 'cause you're sitting across from this lady with a piece of paper who's going I'm. Going. To. Shoot. You. If. You. Don't. Blah, blah, blah in this emotionless voice. It's foul. I hate it." - Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight, Brokeback Mountain)
Auditions could be considered the rite of passage for new actors, each one being a test of their commitment and fortitude.
"The first year I was here I was auditioning all the time and got no work. There were times I was thinking, 'What am I doing, this is crazy'. I was scared because I had no money and no ticket home. 'Why won’t anyone employ me?’ I questioned myself, my talent and my capacity to exist in this industry.” – Alex O’Loughlin (Hawaii Five-0, Oyster Farmer)
One of the unhappy lessons learned from auditions is that selection for a role may not be based on how well you can act.

Jonathan Schmock, executive producer-writer-director-actor, observed in an interview that (a casting director does,) "sadly, less and less. Casting directors used to cast. They had close to final say and were respected for their expertise and knowledge. Now they suggest and bring a group of actors to the producers and now even the Network."

So, does the executive producer(s) have final choice, final say, on who gets the job? According to Schmock, "It’s going more and more to the studio and the Network … Lawyers and business people in other words. There are less and less shows and the decision making keeps moving upwards."

Even after achieving recognition for your work, it doesn’t necessarily get any easier to acquire the roles you want.
"It's hard to maintain a sense of dignity in an audition. I have done so many auditions where I've put it out there and have been met with that kind of blank stare - 'Great! Thanks! OK! Great work! Thanks for coming in!' At the door I'm thinking, 'What the hell am I doing with my life?'" - Ben Stiller (Meet the Parents, Curb Your Enthusiasm)

Of course, there are also those special auditions when a role and an actor are meant for each other, and everyone in the room knows it.
 Can you imagine anyone else playing House except Hugh Laurie?

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