During his final callback for “Moulin Rouge!,” Aaron Tveit decided to, in his words, “go big or go home.” In this instance, that meant throwing himself onto the floor of the audition room and singing his take on Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk.” As anyone who saw the musical after it opened at Broadway’s Hirschfeld Theatre last summer knows, Tveit since did so eight times a work—which is to say, his commitment to the moment paid off. Here, he shares more audition highs and lows and the simple phrase he wishes he could tell his former self.
What performance should every actor see and why?
Denzel Washington in “Philadelphia.” His on-camera acting and what he does through action and physicality—the scene with him and Tom Hanks in the library when he decides to actually help him, the way he’s hiding behind the books, that’s all him. The director did not tell him to do that, I guarantee it. He figured it all out himself.
How did you get your Equity card?
I got my Equity card when I was cast in the national tour of “Hairspray.”
What is the wildest thing you’ve ever done to get a job?
I’ve done really crazy stuff. I auditioned for “Moulin Rouge!” and had work sessions with [director] Alex Timbers and [music supervisor and arranger] Justin Levine. At the time, the Bohemians were singing “Uptown Funk” in the opening number, and they basically said to me, “When you sing ‘Uptown Funk,’ it’s as if someone threw you into a pool. They threw you into this place, and you’re suddenly singing with them.” So in my final callback, everybody was there, and they said, “Let’s start with ‘Uptown Funk,’ ” and I went to the piano player and said, “Will you just start playing when I point to you?” I pointed at him. I left the room. I waited a second and then I opened the door, threw myself into the room and onto the floor, and started singing the song. It worked! Go big or go home.
What is your worst audition horror story?
I don’t want to name names, but I was once auditioning for a film and the writer-director was someone who’d previously had big success in television. It was me, the director, and the casting director in the room, and I was doing my scene. It was a bit of a long scene, and in the middle of the scene, his phone rang and he answered it. I turned to the casting director and she was mortified, and I waited. He finished the phone call and then I said, “Thank you, guys, I think I’m gonna go.”
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Ah, man, just relax. Keep going to class and trust yourself. It’s gonna be fine, just trust.
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