The casting process is a mystery to most actors. Why one actor gets cast over another is something we all ask ourselves. The bad part is that this question can result in never ending answers. So rather than trying to become a mind reader, I am offering you an alternative way at looking at the casting process all together! This casting secret will alleviate your worries from here on out. Here's what you need to know about...casting.
My team sent me on another great audition last week. It has to be my six hundredth one at this point! While I was sitting at this particular casting office I got to talking to another actor in the waiting room. This office usually makes us wait over an hour, so instead of staring at each other awkwardly, we decided to bond.
'Waiting long' I asked already knowing the answer.
'Yeah, of course,' he chuckled.
'Where are you from' he asked.
'Queens, New York...and you?'
As he was answering I noticed this guy was dressed sharply. So was I. That's because we were both going out for the young hotshot lawyer.
'How long have you been in LA,' I asked
'Six years, and you?'
'I feel like I'm half-way there, he added. Like I have finally understand things about this whole process.'
'That's it not about me,' he said with the biggest smile. Immediately before he could even finish his next sentence I said, 'I completely understand what you mean.'
Casting's Main Concern
The more and more I talk to other actors—and what I am finding in my own experience— is that casting has their own agenda. You're probably reading this and saying, "Duh Eddie, they're job is to cast" but what I mean is that they are looking to fill "roles." The "Tall Guy," "Pretty Girl," "Nerd," "Jock," and so on.
I want this information to take some of the pressure off of you. Until I came back from my trip to Charleston this past June, I was convinced that I was right for every role and that if casting couldn't see that I was their guy, somehow the onus was on me. I felt like I was doing something wrong—that I was failing my friends and family and myself. My "waiting room buddy" made me realize that I have to remind myself early on that it's not about me, it's about them filling a position, sometimes not with the best actors.
I have a great friend who booked a role on a big epic war movie last year that's most likely going to be nominated for an Oscar. We both auditioned for this movie, but he booked it. I called him one afternoon, to get his advice on how to audition for movies when you only have one line. He told me this story:
He said, one day he was on set for the epic war movie with all the other young actors and the casting director had come to visit them. His buddy boldly asked the casting director, "What made you cast us?" Everyone huddled in closely, and he says that the casting director didn't skip a beat. Like a drill sergeant, she answered "Well I needed a kid to look like he was from the inner city and that was you. I needed a guy who looked Hispanic that was this guy. She went down the list of archetypes and admitted that she needed a kid who looked like he was raised on farm, then pointed to my buddy."
My mind was blown! He summed it all up for me with this piece of advice, All you need to do is bring your unique essence to the audition the rest is out of your hands. His coolness about it made me notice that I was knocking myself down mercilessly when I didn't book the job. This type of reaction helps no one.
My friend knows he's a very good actor, but he was also honest with himself that he was cast partially because of what he looks like. Something he has no control over. However, he knows he can't rely on his looks alone to book. That would be like a basketball player shooting from the top of the key every time he went to shoot. Yes, he might hit a few, but eventually the other team is going to catch wind and block his shot. You've got to hone multiple angles of your craft.
The same goes with acting. He is extremely grateful for the opportunities when they arrive, prepares his ass off on every audition(I've seen this guy's scripts), and most likely handles himself like a pro in the casting room. These are the things he can control. Your technique coupled with your looks, allows you to be a top runner for roles when they fit you.
What's Your Job?
My friend helped me realize that I was essentially sabotaging myself every time I got angry or crestfallen when I didn't get a callback or book the job. There is no need for you to put yourself down when this happens. And it will happen, a lot. The bottom line is that you are not right for every role. That's right. Think about it, if you booked the roles you weren't truly right for, you wouldn't shine in that character and the whole process would feel forced, or you would have to work way harder to convince the director and producers and yourself that you were the gal or guy.
Eventually you will be perfect for a role. We must trust the casting directors to do their job. In the meantime, your job is to breakdown the scene and do all your preliminary homework like your relationships, intentions, objectives, and character backstory. Be grateful and own the room by connecting with the casting team and do what you do best—live the scene truthfully and inspire!
When it comes to smaller roles on movies, co-star roles, and even some guest star roles, casting has a very specific job on their hands. Since, you don't have access to this information from the producers, all you can do is be the best actor you can be. An audition is an opportunity to have a creative experience, not to book a job. If you can walk away from the audition with your head held high and a smile on your face, then you've already won.
Casting directors get their casting requirements from the directors and producers. They are trying to best fit you and the rest of the team. Some times the choice to pick an actor is based on superficial features like having an accent or red hair, being tall or short, being able to do a special skill and so forth. In these times, if you do not fill the requirement there is nothing you can or could have done.
So don't beat yourself up.
This just means that you will be right for another role when the time comes around. That is not to minimize casting's need to find outstanding actors. This is the part you do have control over. Make sure your acting and audition technique is sharp, because this industry is as competitive as it gets.
The actors at the top got there, because of their relentless work ethic and preparation for every audition. If you think you are working hard but aren't where you want to be yet, then I challenge you to work even harder. This approach can be tiring and it is, hence why most actors stop acting before they ever get their big break. But not you. This is your secret weapon reminder: It's all about doing great work in the room—that's your job baby—and then letting them go!
Tips To Remember
Casting wants you to be good.
If casting brings you in multiple times, it means they like you and are looking for the right role for you.
Casting directors and their associates are people too, treat them with respect.
If you bring baggage into the room, they can sense it.
Casting is only the first part of the whole process, keep it all in perspective.
Take time to own the room by connecting with the reader—if you have the readers eyes, then you have everyone's eyes!
Have you ever gone out for a role you didn't think you were right for, and then surprisingly booked the job? Tell me about it in the comments section below! This article was inspired by Karen Austin, creator of Owning the Room:Strategies for a Courageous Audition.
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