IMDb’s Casting Calls documentary series explores some of the most famous movies and roles of all time and deconstructs how they came to be. Specifically, the series focuses on the casting choices made in these iconic films as well as the history and surrounding circumstances of the actors, actresses, and projects in question. And episode after episode of the IMDb series makes clear that casting the right person for any given role, while keeping the overall chemistry of the piece in mind, is of utmost importance in securing a winning project.

In Season 1, Episode 14, the casting process of the seminal AMC meth-fueled drama Breaking Bad is unpacked. As it happened, Sony, the studio behind the series, considered John Cusak and Matthew Broderick for the role of the science-teacher-turned-drug-lord Walter White. The studio was weary of Bryan Cranston, who was mainly known as the goofball dad Hal on Malcolm in the Middle, but the show’s creator, Vince Gilligan, had other plans. He’d written an episode of The X-Files in which Cranston played a reprobate with an oxymoronic breadth of humanity (sound familiar?) and he was impressed with the former minister’s acting chops. And the rest is history!

Sony thought that Aaron Paul was “too good-looking” to play the part of the strung-out loser Jesse Pinkman. That aspect of the process is a bit curious given they purportedly considered Gossip Girl star Penn Badgely and Veep’s Reid Scott for the part; but regardless, Gilligan fought for Aaron, and the dynamic duo of Heisenberg and Cap’n Cook was in place.

It’s important to understand that many critical casting choices are based on an actor or actress’ past work—or even their past auditions. So, it behooves anyone interested in a career in the entertainment arts to bring the noise every time out because no one knows what will come from any given audition. It could bear fruit a week later, six months later, or as in Bryan Cranston’s case, ten years later!

The circuitous journey of Emma Stone is featured in Season 3, Episode 13. Early in her career, Stone cut her teeth on sitcoms like Malcolm in the Middle and The Suite Life of Zach & Cody, but she copped her big break playing the amiable teetotaler Jules in the 2007 coming-of-age comedy Superbad. An interesting thing about the fortunes and misfortunes of the casting process is that Emma beat out a talented up-and-comer named Jennifer Lawrence for the role of Jules. And in another twist of fate, Stone bested Lawrence yet again for the role of Olive in the 2010 film Easy A.

Do you think missing out on a few plumb roles got young J-Law down? Of course not! It’s certain the would-be superstar understood that every audition is not only a gift, but a chance to hone the old skills, gain experience, and to make potentially life-changing contacts.

If the short documentary films featured in the IMDb series Casting Calls teaches us anything, it is that landing a role is not an either-or proposition. There are many different factors at play in the casting process including scheduling, talent chemistry, subjective preferences, and decisions made by committee, to name just a few. So, it seems that every audition you go on very well could be the one that jump starts your career. So give it all ya got!

 

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