For actors, nothing can be more terrifying than walking into that audition room. Going in front of the people who could give you your next job is nerve-racking. But, unfortunately, it’s something we all must do. Because, like they say, practice makes perfect! However, lucky for us, there have been hundreds of thousands of actors who have already experienced numerous auditions of their own. And each and every one probably has a few stories they can tell you about the terrifying experience that is walking into an audition room. And, luckily, we can actually learn a few things from their horrifying and mortifying experiences. So, here are just a few of the terrifying (and maybe even a little hilarious) audition stories that can guide you for the next time you need to go in front of a casting director:
1. “At one of my first professional auditions (in Chicago) I kissed my reader! It was in the script and she was on her feet with me doing the scene. Needless to say, I didn’t book this one.” – Anonymous
What We Learned: Don’t kiss the reader! Unless it’s a chemistry read…maybe.
2. “One time I went in to audition for a commercial to play a dancer and, with years of dance experience behind me, I thought I was going to nail this audition. So I got into the room and busted out my best cheerleader-type moves. Only for the casting director to actually look at me and say: ‘What the hell was that?!’ I was mortified. She then asked me if I knew how to do ballet to which I responded, ‘Yes, of course! I didn’t know that’s what you were looking for.’ But I just continued to epically fail. I don’t think I’m going to get called in by that CD again!”
What We Learned: If you don’t know exactly what you should be doing in the audition, don’t be afraid to ask! And definitely don’t lie about your skill-set!
3. “At an indie film audition, a director slapped me while I was reading. I think that was karma. Didn’t book it. Didn’t wanna.” – Anonymous
What We Learned: You never know what you to expect in the room. We prepared for anything!
4. “At a final callback for a national tour, I was so nervous that when I picked up a pen to use as a prop, it immediately flew out of my hands and across the room. We never found it! DID NOT BOOK.” – Anonymous
What We Learned: Be careful of the props you choose. And be very careful when handling them!
5. “I auditioned for a student film once and the director just looked at me and said, ‘Your mother just died.’ So naturally I just ended up half-sobbing in the director’s face. It completely caught me off guard! And, of course, I didn’t book the job.”
What We Learned: Don’t be afraid to ask for more background information or more direction if your audition is going to be that improv-based!
6. “I had to leave work early and take three subways to Chinatown to get to my audition. It was really hot in the city. Way hotter than it was by my job. And when I finally got to the right building I was a sweaty mess! I then had to walk-up three flights of stairs because there was no elevator or anything! When the casting director first saw me, all he did was look at me in disgust and called me in to audition. I didn’t even have a chance to catch my breath! Then, sitting under the light and sweating made me totally forget everything I prepared. I even felt the sweat dripping down my forehead! Of course, I never heard from them. Which stinks because I really felt that I could’ve been exactly what they were looking for!”
What We Learned: Always show-up with enough time to fully prepare yourself before you go into the room! And be fully prepared if heading to a location you’re not familiar with or that may take you a while to get to.
7. “I had a voice-over audition for a promotional video and, when accepting the audition, I knew that the script contained some inappropriate content. But I didn’t think much of it, as I thought it was probably just curse words or something like that. Then when they handed me the script I noticed that the voiceover was actually for the reading of an erotica novel. That was going to be featured on a gay erotica website! I actually ended up booking the job and taking it. But looking back, I wonder if I just took the job out of desperation.”
What We Learned: Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the content of something you’re auditioning for! And just because you get an audition or a role, that doesn’t mean you have to take it. Only do what you’re comfortable with.
8. “I was doing a conservatory audition and it was my first one. I did two INSANE monologues and then he saw on my resume that I dance, so he asked me to dance. I ended up trying to do ballet in jeans and I was so awkward about it. Until…HE ASKED ME TO SING. Even though I just wrote that I was an ensemble singer on my resume. So, I TRIED to spontaneously sing “I Know You, I Walked With You,” but I didn’t actually know the words. So, instead, I started singing “dondoop doopoo” and then walked out mortified. I got in though!” – Anonymous
What We Learned: Again, never lie or exaggerate about your talents or skills on your resume! And, if you do have something on your resume that you can do, be sure that you’re always prepared to showcase it at an audition (or on-set)! That way you’re not completely caught off guard.
9. “I went for an audition for a comedic web series and it turned out to be in a deserted apartment building, with a 6th floor walk-up in the guys apartment! He was the only one running auditions and you had to buzz to get in, and buzz again, then knock on the door. He kept leaving during the audition to let people in. He had two small dogs running around barking during the taping. And the audition was improv, but he talked most of it. And I didn’t get more than a few words in. Tre-bizarre!” – Anonymous
What We Learned: Always make sure you clarify the audition location before heading to the audition. And remember that it’s just an audition! There will be more. So, if you’re not comfortable with how it’s set-up, you don’t need to feel obligated to stay. Or even go in in the first place!
10. “On the first day of auditions, we did two days of auditions, this girl comes in and she gets up on the stage and we’re sitting in the audience watching. And there are some people that are in the holding area behind us who are going to be doing their auditions next but they can’t see what’s going on. She gets up on stage and she explains that her monologue is about a young woman who is going through a very trying time. I don’t exactly remember what that time is, but it drives her to be a cutter. And so it’s a very dramatic monologue, very emotional, and I believe she did a good job. BUT, it was hard to know for sure because at one point during the monologue, she pulled out a knife! And started cutting herself on her thigh while she spoke! She started dragging the knife back and forth across her upper thigh because she’s wearing this little mini-skirt. And blood started dripping down her leg and heading into her little boots. And I decided at that point, from here on out, if I ever did any casting ever again…which it turns out I would do six years of so far, after that experience… [Laughs] that there would be no more monologues and all actors would be frisked at the door by my Marine husband.” – Bonnie Gillespie, Casting Director
What We Learned: Don’t bring any weapons to an audition! And getting so much into character to a point where it may make the casting director feel worried, unsafe, or uncomfortable is probably not a good idea.