They Went In for One Role, But Came Out with Another

April 5, 2015

When Lily James originally auditioned for the movie Cinderella, she went in for one of the less-than-virtuous step sisters. After giving the audition her best efforts, the casting director suggested she read for the part of Cinderella as well. James was elated when, after the drawn-out process of screen tests, she was told she indeed landed the lead role. Lily had always loved Disney princesses as a child. “I was completely infatuated with all of them. I had the little slippers and would parade around the house before my brothers sort of beat me up and shattered my dreams of being a princess!” Now she got to play one.

Lily James certainly is not the first one to land a different role from the one she initially auditioned for. Wizard of Oz Scarecrow Ray Bolger was called in for the part of the Tin Woodman at first–much to his dismay; but, Bolger was under contract to play any role that MGM assigned him, and at the time, Buddy Ebsen was cast as the Scarecrow. Fortunately for Bolger, the roles were eventually switched. Unfortunately, the aluminum-powdered make up used to transform Ebsen into the Tinman coated his lungs and left him close to death, so he was unable to play the part.

When virtually unknown John Krasinski auditioned for The Office, he was called in for power-hungry Dwight Schrute. However, John strongly felt he was better suited for the mild-mannered yet prankster salesman Jim Halpert. After a bit of a wild goose chase, it turns out John did end up getting to play Jim–and Rainn Wilson took the part of Dwight even though he originally auditioned for the well-intentioned but offensive Michael Scott.

And you know the golden-horned Asgardian God of Mischief Loki played by Tom Hiddleston? Well, he originally auditioned for the part of…can you guess? Thor! “At first Tom came in for Thor,” producer Craig Kyle shared. “He trained. He came in. He was ripped. He did a tremendous job, but he wasn’t Thor.” Of course, Chris Hemsworth came to be known as Thor.

Rachel McAdams initially auditioned for the starring role of Cady Heron in the Tina Fey-scripted comedy Mean Girls. And Lindsay Lohan first read for the villain, the leader of the Plastics, Regina George. However, according to Vulture due to Lohan’s success in Freaky Friday, Director Mark Waters switched their roles. “[Freaky Friday] was a much bigger hit than we expected it to be. Sherry Lansing, who was heading Paramount at the time, told us, ‘We have to have Linday play the lead in Mean Girls. It’s just not going to work having her play the villain because she now has an audience that won’t accept that.'” Rachael McAdams was then cast as Regina because Fey believed that McAdams’ “kind and polite” manner made her well-suited for such a mean-spirited character.

All of these examples go to show just how fluid the casting experience can be for not just the actor, but for producers, directors, and executives alike. But despite everyone’s convictions, hopefully what is best for the project will win out. Have you ever had strong convictions you should be cast in a different part from which you auditioned? Did you ever land a different role from the one you went in for? Please share!

Lindsay’s Seventh Chance

August 22, 2013

lindsay-lohan-oprah.jpgOprah Winfrey recently interviewed Lindsay Lohan since the troubled star completed a court-ordered, three-month rehab stint for substance abuse. The conversation kicked off Winfrey’s OWN network’s Lohan programming, which will include an eight-part reality docu-series chronicling Lindsay’s attempts to move beyond her troubled past, and succeed in an increasingly competitive industry.

27-year-old Lohan appeared healthy and alert as she admitted to being an “addict” whose drug of choice is alcohol as well as having struggled with an addiction to the pharmaceutical stimulant, Adderall. Additionally, recalling the summer of 2010 when she was sentenced to jail for violating probation by skipping her alcohol counseling sessions, she says she kind of wanted to go to jail. “I think it was just to have some peace and just have no choice but to just sit and be.” Declaring she hates to be regarded as a child star gone wrong, and is seeking to restore her reputation, Lindsay is doing everything she can to stage a career comeback including launching a new website, and doing a cameo on the cult-favorite HBO shocker, Eastbound and Down. (She plays egomaniac, Kenny Powers’ illegitimate daughter; as a side note, that should be delicious!) “As long as I stay honest with myself and just do the work that I am willing to do, and have been willing to do and am doing, there’s nothing that can stand in the way of that,” Lohan said. “I’m my own worst enemy and I know that.” 

Many fans recall Lindsay’s memorable, and some would argue, high-ranking roles in The Parent Trap, Freaky Friday, Mean Girls, Chapter 27, and Georgia Rule. She’s literally been in the business since the age of three, and has amassed loads of awards celebrating her craft and talent. But in Hollywood, it’s all too easy to get off track, and plum roles have become more sparse as of late for the fiery redhead. Getting into trouble with the law and partying hard can definitely secure the attention of paparazzi, but those are not necessarily the cameras a star of Lindsay’s caliber wants to court at this point in her career.

While it is easy to remain skeptical that this most recent rehab stint will bring about any enduring change for Lohan, this time could truly be the life-changing event she’s been hoping for. “I feel whole again,” Lohan told Winfrey. By all means, it would be quite a triumph to overcome the innumerable challenges she’s faced over the last five years to achieve the level of success she once enjoyed; but, it certainly can be done. Robert Downey Jr. was thought to be a lost cause for many years, and Winona Ryder had pretty serious problems with the law as well as her negative public image. But they both managed to come back, and by some estimations, are dancing better than they ever have. With the recent death of That 70’s Show star, Lisa Robin Kelly as a stark reminder of the potentially lethal consequences of alcohol and substance abuse, and with all of Lindsay’s fans rooting for her, here’s to hoping rehab stint number six will make all the difference.

What Are You Willing to Bare for Your Acting Career?

August 3, 2012

Anne Hathaway as Catwoman

On the set of the new Bret Easton Ellis bacchanalia, The Canyons, embattled star Lindsay Lohan agreed to do a nude scene provided the 10-man crew strip down to their skivvies. She felt it would level the playing field and create a sense of unity. Last year, Anne Hathaway seemingly spent more time naked than clothed in the tearjerker Love and Other Drugs; no real surprise there, Catwoman was always a pretty sexually liberated super villain. Also, after his breakout performance in Inglorious Bastards, Michael Fassbender is giving us the Full Monty in the new sex-addiction drama, Shame. “Most men have a penis,” he quipped. “So what’s the big deal?” No pun intended, I’m sure.

Well, for many actors it is a big deal. Be it good, old-fashioned modesty, personal reasons, religious restrictions, or even parental guilt, nudity for an actor is a very significant decision. It means potentially sharing your private and most intimate details with everyone in the known world. And with today’s technology, your nude scenes can go global within seconds of being released. If the scene or scenes indeed become famous or infamous, as with Sharon Stone’s notorious turn in Basic Instinct, it will live on forever and ever.

Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct

So you would be wise to give some thought as to your parameters before being asked to disrobe. You should have a clear idea of what you are willing to do, and more importantly, what you are not willing to do—being as specific as possible. Having a definitive set of guidelines prior to a shoot takes the guesswork out of the equation, and avoids an ill-advised decision made in a rush or under duress.

Questions you can ask yourself include: How would you feel if you lost out on a role because you opted not to participate in a nude scene? Are you willing to do something that may be in conflict with your personal morals and ethics? What are you willing to do to land a role in a choice project? Do you have any specific conditions you would require?

What are your thoughts on the topic of on-screen nudity in acting roles? Let us know!

Life Lessons from a Morgue

October 21, 2011

Six months ago, Lindsay Lohan was given community service in a morgue with duties including mopping floors, stocking restrooms, and washing sheets. She was apparently spared cleaning actual crypts where the bodies are stored. If the reality of a fading career was not evident to Lohan at such a lowly point, will her returning for 16 more hours of service at the same morgue have a real impact on her psyche? Lindsay was once a child star with all the possibilities in the world ahead of her, when she’s now struggling to get work in a very tough business. Robert Downey Jr. and Winona Ryder have managed to come back after problems with the law, but in order to do so, they made a deliberate choice to regain focus, energy, and professionalism. And a tried and tested rehabilitation process includes comic appearances in lighthearted films, sitcoms, or satirical shows like Saturday Night Live. Getting back into the public’s favor is doable when you show you have a sense of humor and are in control of your life again.

Speaking of taking control of one’s life, let’s look at another child star, Natalie Portman. Portman burst on the scene at the ripe old age of 12 with a heartfelt and nuanced performance in The Professional. She’s since starred in over 30 films and recently won the Oscar for her blistering performance in Black Swan. Natalie attributes her success to “wanting to be a positive role model.”

Let’s face it, not just anyone has the talent of Natalie Portman, but there are clearly lessons to be learned from such a serious and focused professional; something Lindsay would be wise to open herself to. We’re given only so many opportunities in this life and in this business; here’s to making the most of every opportunity out there—starting with learning life lessons from a morgue. And here’s to Lindsay getting back to work!