In my nine years of working in casting, I’ve watched countless auditions for roles in everything from blockbuster films to tiny indies, television pilots and series. From show-stopping performances to jaw-dropping flubs, believe me, I’ve seen it all.
But while the roles and the films change, the general principles that make for a great audition remain relatively consistent. So I’ve pulled from my first-hand experience to develop these 10 keys to impressing casting directors and nailing auditions, no matter what the project is.
Be polite. Always. To everyone. There are lots of actors that are qualified to play the role. So unless you’re already a star — and sometimes even then — no one is going to put up with you if you’re difficult to work with or walk in with attitude. For example, if you think you are better suited for a different role than the one you are scheduled to read, it’s fine to ask if you can read for that other role. However, the casting associates may decline your request, and if that’s the case, graciously take no for an answer. There could be any number of reasons we said no: We could have an offer out, producers might want more name value or you could simply be wrong for the role. Arguing with us and insisting on reading is a waste of your time and ours. It’s also rude.
Tone it down. “Less is more” couldn’t be truer for acting in film and television. This advice is particularly pertinent to anyone that comes from a theater background. Casting directors that work in film and television are really looking for a more conversational style — something more subtle and real. Save the dramatic gestures and facial expressions for the stage. Keep your performance grounded — over-the-top can really backfire in an audition.
Show some personality. Relax. Be yourself. Let your natural personality shine through. Use the short time you have to make an impression before you start your scene and before you leave the room. Charm will take you far and make you more memorable amid the blur of actors we see all day. The same holds true for the actual performance. If you bring more of your own personality to the role, the performance will seem both more real and more original. Put your own stamp on it. This is what sets you apart from the rest.
Memorize your lines. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people come to an audition unprepared. If you’re constantly referencing your sides, it takes you and us out of your scene.