Audition rooms are confronting places.
You’re faced with at least 10 people who look just like you, are dressed just like you, and who look you up and down as though they want to kill you, or at least take a finger. They are usually a bit prettier than you, or their boots are more expensive, or (the worst) when the casting director walks out, they get up and hug them because they know them on a first name basis and have clearly spent years networking and becoming every casting directors BFF. You sit there and try to look nonchalant, trying your best not to twitch from nervous energy, or pee for the fourth time before your name gets called.
Recently I went in for a feature film which was, I must say, a fairly melodramatic script. And so, of course, with melodrama comes tears. Long story short, a college student falls for her professor, and they begin a sordid love affair. Casting people always want to be nice to their actors, so of course for the audition scene, they picked the climax of the film when “The Professor” tells his lover that he has cancer, and that their love can never be, because he will be dead by the end of the year. Out of a whole film of pleasant two hander scenes, they thought this scene would be the best one to show that you can cry and have snot coming out of your nose and still look like a total babe. I call it the babe’en damsel in distress.
I had been travelling through Europe, so had already sent a tape in for this film. They knew what I looked like and they had seen me do the scene already, so I guess they wanted to see if I could re-create what I had done on tape in person. Or maybe they wanted to hear me do the scene with someone who wasn’t my very Australian sounding mother (bless her, she does her best).
I got ready, put a collared shirt on so that I looked like the girl-next-door college kid, and headed off to the audition. When I stepped into the waiting room, there were already five girls who had gotten there ahead of me. There was the usual awkward moment where I ask the girls how they are doing today, and was met with blank stares and noncommittal shrugs. Thats okay, maybe they were method actors and all pretending their lover was dying? I’ll go with that, because they all looked terrified and sad at the same time. You do you, honey. (BTW If method acting is how you like to do things, thats just fine by me. It means there’ll be less competition if an audition ever comes up for a woman with a serious meth addiction. You go smoke that meth, ladies!)
There was a big mirror hanging on the wall behind one of the couches, so I sat down under the mirror to avoid having to look at myself as I pondered my existence and life purpose (the mind goes to strange places when you’re waiting to audition). As I sat, a new girl walked in to the waiting room. She gave us all a quick glance, signed her name on the call sheet, and without sitting down, came over to the mirror. Thinking I might have gained a new friend, I pulled my bag aside and smiled at her, but soon realised that she had no intention of sitting, or even looking at me. She threw her bag on the couch, pulled her script out, and started eyeballing herself in the mirror. I awkwardly sat there, pretending I couldn’t see her rehearsing the lines to herself in the mirror. No judgement here! You do what you gotta do girl! But then she started getting louder… and as she reached the climax of the scene, she began to cry. She was weeping, to her own reflection, asking herself why, oh why, did the professor have to die?
At this point, I wanted to die.
No one else seemed to notice or care what was going on right next to me, or maybe they were just all way better actors than me. Right as she was wiping her still somehow perfect face with a tissue, my name was called. With all the craziness I had just witnessed, I have to admit I was a little put off. I didn’t get there emotionally, and floundered through the audition. Lets be honest, I fucked it. But I have definitely done worse.
As I left the room with that empty feeling you get when you know you didn’t nail it, I hear them call out the weeping girls name. “I’m ready,” she said breathily, as she flicked her perfect hair and flounced into the room.
I later found out that casting had somewhat liked me, although they wrote a stern email to my agent telling him, among a mile of other criticisms, “If this girl wants to BE a movie star, she needs to start DRESSING like a movie star…’
Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know that college students dress like movie stars nowadays. Also, how does a movie star even dress? Was I lacking sequins? Were my high-top chucks not expensive enough? Should I start shoplifting from Chanel so that I can get that ‘just off the red carpet’ look?I guess next time I go in for ‘girlfriend number 2,’ I’ll wear my bathing suit and Jimmy Choo’s. Thats pretty “movie star,” right?
The next time I had an audition at that casting office, I found myself nervously googling ‘what does Jennifer Lawrence wear when grocery shopping,’ followed by ‘famous peoples audition tapes.’ I then realised that this was a very fast paced track to insanity. This industry can get into your head sometimes, and you usually only realise it when you’re so deep into a Google image search that you start looking at pictures of Brangelina (RIP) running through LAX with their perfect rainbow family.