Chemistry is that magical connection that actors create on camera that makes us want to keep watching. We see it on daytime soaps, shows like Empire and almost every movie ever made. Some chemistry is good, some bad and some is scorching. So how and when do you create it?

The first place you may need to create a little chemistry is my office. It is also one of the hardest places to do this because you are creating chemistry with a reader or a casting director and we are often not actors. Come in with strong choices for the relationships between your character and the other characters in your sides. That means different relationships for each other character. This will give you the best chance at strong chemistry. It isn’t enough to just think about your character.

And let’s be clear about one thing, it is up to you to create chemistry. You may be paired up with an actor we are not ultimately going to cast. You still must give a strong read and try to develop a rapport with someone less talented. Your attitude will be crucial here. Don’t get frustrated. Take lemons and make lemonade. Years ago, when I was casting actors to star opposite the late Anna Nicole Smith I had to hire people who could act opposite someone who was going through a personal crisis. Her husband had just died and for whatever reason the producers could not delay production. I set out to find actors who were both talented and patient and would be able to help her on tough days. I needed our entire cast to support her during a tough time in order to make a better film. These actors did their best to create chemistry with someone in crisis. Happens all the time in Hollywood.

Chemistry is not reserved for only love interests, either. Comedic duos have chemistry and family members should also click. Think about the specific relationship and create your part of that whether its at the audition or on the set.

Is it possible to create chemistry for a self-tape? Yes. Surprised? Don’t be. Any time you tape an audition, you have a scene partner. The camera. By extension, us. It’s a lot tougher to quantify chemistry with us via camera than it is when we watch you with a partner. Still, it can be seen and felt. It’s that connection we feel as we watch you. Actors don’t typically look into camera in films and movies. (Except Phoebe Waller-Bridge, of course.) In a taped audition you are looking right into the camera and so you can create that connection.

If it helps, ask a friend or family member to stand directly behind the camera as you do your self-tape. We won’t know they’re even there and you have a human being to connect to, if that makes it easier for you.

Most chemistry tests occur during one of the callbacks or on a sound stage at the very last stage of casting. I have seen many cases where it all came down to the chemistry. We want to see how you look together and how you act together, but almost equally important is how you get along together. Even if we don’t cast all the actors from one group, we do get to see how you collaborate with your fellow artists. This will be important on the set if you have a lead or series regular role. And it can be very expensive if we hire you for a lead or contract player on a soap only to learn a month later that you do not play well with others.

Of course, the ultimate chemistry test occurs on the first day you report for work on the set. Once you have the part, there’s no turning back so that chemistry better show up, too. And sometimes, you have to force it. You won’t get along with every actor you work with, but you need to make the best of every situation because you are all under contract and re-casting anyone is prohibitive.

I hope you get along well with your co-stars in every project. May the chemistry be immediate! But if it isn’t there, you’re going to want to work at creating it because it is imperative to your success.

 

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