When Auditions Turn Weird

April 7, 2013

Always expect the unexpected. We’ve heard this time and time again, but it’s never more relevant than in the acting game. When you first get into commercial and theatrical acting, you know you have to learn your lines, show up on time, be emotionally prepared for any particular role–and you know it’s a challenge to pull it off seamlessly. This is all stock and trade when you enter the field; but what’s rarely talked about is when things get weird. For the most part, what’s expected of you will be contained in the sides, or the casting director will alert you to the specifics of the role. But there are those times when you’re thrown a curve ball out of left field with some serious mustard on it. See, you don’t even understand what you just read! How unexpected is that?!

An informal survey of actors who audition consistently yielded the following anecdotes: “I was asked to get in a fistfight with my scene partner. They said to make it as realistic as possible without hurting each other. I left with a black eye!” Another unsuspecting thespian confessed she was mortified upon being asked to make out with an invisible love interest in a callback filled with male clients. And yet another actress was asked to wildly transform into a werewolf and then bite the crotch area of her acting partner.

While these scenes are not necessarily common, if you audition enough awkward situations will pop up. And you must to be prepared, because if you want the job, you need to be okay with a little embarrassment. Chase Benz, dance captain on Britney Spears’ Circus tour tells of a particularly challenging audition, “When I was 19, I was auditioning for a Nickelodeon show and I had to sing, dance and act. The director asked me to improvise in a 10-year-old’s voice and tell him what ingredients I would use to make the best ice cream dessert and why. That challenge threw me off big time! But I went for it—and I booked the job.” Drew Barrymore relates a similar story that pushed her to the limit, “Oh my God, I won’t say the movie, but they called me in on a Sunday with a casting assistant. They didn’t think I was worthy enough of even reading with the casting director. They did it in the basement, and it was a scene where I have to do this oral thing with this guy’s hand, and no one was there so I had to do it to myself. It was by far the most humiliating experience. I thought, ‘They think I’m such s–t that I’m here on a Sunday with the assistant, giving myself a finger in the mouth. This is a low point.’”

So, if Drew Barrymore isn’t above humiliation, then you, young thespian, certainly are not either. This is not to say you should do anything you’re morally uncomfortable with, but the rule of thumb is if you’re truly uncomfortable with an audition, you can always say no.

How about you; any stories of the weird, uncomfortable, cringeable variety? We would love to hear them!