My First Experience in Casting

One of my old headshots. Shut up!

One of my old headshots. Shut up!

I was a struggling NY actor, fresh out of college, taking any part-time job I could find. A friend asked me to take his place as a reader for a big-time casting director who was casting a major feature film. I was very excited, and ready to wow this BTCD with my acting skills, which I was sure would make her cast me in the film.

No, I hadn’t read the script, but I was a New York-trained actor—I could play anything. They would see my brilliance instantly and I would be signing film contracts the same day. I was on my way to becoming a star. According to all the magazines I had read, it always happened overnight.

I met BTCD in a rehearsal room on the west side of Manhattan. No, I won’t be naming names; she’s still around and still casting.

About ten  minutes elapsed between the time BTCD handed me the script and a stack of sides to study, and when we saw the first actor. I recognized him from his movies. I was a fan. The entire session was filled with actors and actresses from some of my favorite movies, gorgeous women and incredibly handsome men.

I was kind of shaken because I had never read opposite such well-known actors and had no time to read the script. What got me through the first take and the rest of the long day of auditions was a real eye opener.

The script wasn’t exactly Shakespeare; it wasn’t even Mother Goose-caliber, but so many of these actors fumbled the material. It was as though most of them had never broken down a scene. Yet here they were, with their impossible good looks and drool-inducing careers, getting put on tape for a lead role in a studio film. I could name twenty other actors who could make this crappy material sing, but I knew neither they nor I would ever get a shot at it. Yes, it hurt. But the bigger pain came later in the day.

I opted to stay in for lunch so I could read the entire script and better understand the sides. BTCD came back from lunch and sat down next to me. From the look on her face, I thought she was going to fire me.

“We are about to see John (not his real name). I hate the prick and I refuse to put him on tape. But if he notices we aren’t filming, I’m going to need you to back me up.”

“I don’t really understand.”

“A little red light on top of the camera comes on when it’s recording. I can see it and the person being taped can see it. It’s not going to light up and he might notice. If he does, I’m going to have to make something up. You just go along with it. Is that going to be a problem?”

“No.”

“Good.”

“Can I ask why?”

“We slept together and it ended badly.”

“Why see him at all?”

“The studio is making me. Any other nosey questions?”

John came in, did a great reading, he did notice the light didn’t come, and I backed up BTCD. There was a lot of cheek kissing. John tried his best to make it lip kissing, but BTCD kept turning her head. It made for an awkward moment. John turned beet red, and left.

BTCD’s laughter began just a second before the door closed. It sounded very much like Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians. Once she was sure he was gone, she killed the laughter and became very chatty about her relationship with John, which ventured into cringe-worthy detail.

The next three days went about the same way. BTCD had a lot of exes to grind. I was twenty-one at the time, and I remembered wondering why this pretty, smart, and powerful twenty-seven-year-old casting director would waste so much time being petty to all these guys.

On the last day, she told me: Offers had been made for all the roles and the deals were all closed.

Thankfully, she paid me in cash and I never had to deal with this person again. I am also thankful for her teaching me how not to treat actors during auditions.