Today, she is Jessie Mueller, the revered actor who’s ushered two new musicals to Broadway, mounted a number of others, and won a Tony Award along the way. But in the not-so-distant past, she was Jessie Mueller, a fledgling actor who attempted what’s known as a “cooter slam” in the audition room—“attempted” being the operative word. So, let the record show: Broadway stars, they’re just like us! They fall down, get humiliated, get back up again, and live to tell the tale.
How did you get your Equity card?
I got it doing a new musical written by dear friends of mine, Alan Schmuckler and Mike Mahler, at Chicago Shakespeare. It was a brilliant kids’ show called “How Can You Run With a Shell on Your Back?” That’s how I got my Equity card.
What’s one performance that every actor should see?
I’ll always remember [Martin McDonagh’s] “The Pillowman.”
What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done to get a role?
I tried to do a cooter slam in an audition because it was asked of me—I didn’t come up with that on my own. There’s probably a more technical word for it. I should say I attempted a cooter slam, not that I did one. I attempted it.
What’s your worst audition horror story?
It might be aligned with the cooter slam. It probably involves a dance call, and I might have blocked it out.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t think so much.
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