You study the script, you memorize the sides and give a laser-focused audition. There’s palpable chemistry with every actor you’re paired with during callbacks. You leave the audition feeling the role is yours. A day goes by without any word from casting, followed by another two days, and then a week.
Depressed, and maybe even a little angry, you call your rep and beg him/her to get feedback on why you didn’t get the part. Your agent or manager might make the call and ask, but s/he will usually water down the response to save your sanity. Because it will make you insane.
I’ve been told a lot of crazy reasons for why a director/producer/network exec won’t hire an actor. Below is an unfiltered list of the dumbest and strangest.
“Too on the nose.” Usually said by theater directors.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“The actor has already shown us what they’ll do with the role. S/he’s right, but it means I won’t be able to direct them.”
I believe this is based on a mixture of director ego and a lack of trust toward actors in general. A lot of really good actors lose parts this way.
“I don’t like their shoes.” Said to me with a straight face by a network executive.
“Not sexy enough.” Unfortunately, I hear this one often.
“Too sexy! I would be thinking about having sex with them all the time and wouldn’t be able to concentrate on directing them.”
“He reminds me of my cousin, Danny. I hate that guy.”
“She looks like a Giant Panda.”
“Then why give her a callback?” I asked.
“I like pandas,” the head of casting at a major network said.
“But not enough to cast one?” I asked.
“I passed by her on the way to the bathroom and she seems bitchy.”
“He bumped my car in the parking lot.” No damage, no alarm, but no role for that actor, either.
“Handshake was too hard.”
“The character is homosexual,” I point out.
“But I don’t want to cast a real one” was the response.
“They look like a couple.”
“They’re supposed to, they’re soul mates.,” I said.
“But I don’t want them to look like they belong together, so I need the girl to be plainer. Like, if she were missing a tooth.”
If the director had told me that before casting began, I would’ve put “toothless” in the breakdowns.
“I want to use Former Big Name Actor.”
“He’s twice the age of the character,” I said.
“I know, but he’s my friend.”
“She won’t do nudity.”
“The role doesn’t require it,” I said, confused.
“Yeah, but I want her to be willing to do it.”
“S/he’s not network approved.” This doesn’t mean the network disapproves. It just means network execs don’t know the actor.
“I want a stripper for this role.”
“But the character isn’t a stripper. There’s no stripping in the script.”
After reading this, I hope you realize how random the casting process can be sometimes. So don’t beat yourself up after an audition. Not booking a job doesn’t mean you weren’t amazing. As long as you’ve given it your best shot, there’s nothing else you can do. Leave everything in the room, and look forward to your next audition.