13 Things to Never Say in a Casting Room

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We’ve all put our foot in our mouth a few times but somehow, in the casting room, actors do it more often than they—or we—would like. Nerves, insecurity, neediness, and self-doubt set in and there’s no stopping you. You say things you’re not aware of, feeding the narcissism, looking for connection and reassurance, but sometimes those few little words can bring your audition to a screeching halt. So here are some things you don’t want to say in an audition, no matter what impulse arises:

1. “I just got this last night.”
No excuse. Everyone else likely got it last night and someone is making it work. Do your work as best as you can in the time you have. If you have to, work on it till 2 a.m. Alternatively, do the work that’s necessary so you get a good night’s sleep. You don’t need days to prepare.

2. “Should I sit or stand?”
You decide. Walk into the room confident, ready to go, putting us at ease. If we want you to do something else, we’ll ask.

3. “I’m going to enter, sit, then stand on this line, then exit…”
Keep it physically simple. Blocking will happen on the day. In this abstracted and often confined space, make it about the relationship you have with the other person or people in the scene—the reader. What you’re doing actively, not physically, is what matters.

4. “Where are the producers?”
Not here. We’re here, and we’re here to collaborate with you. Producers will view your best work if you bring it. Enjoy the intimacy of the relationship with whatever casting directors or associates are in the room. They are your audience and your advocates.

5. “Is there something everyone’s doing wrong that I should know. What mistakes are everyone else making?”

6. “Let me do it once and then you can tell me what you want.”
So we assume you have no point of view and can’t decide for yourself. Is that what you want us to know about you?

READ: 21 Things That Make Casting Directors Happy in the Audition Room

7. “If I suck just tell me and I’ll do it again.”
This is setting yourself up to suck and for us to expect you to do just that.

8. “Wow, that was good to get one out of the way. Now can we do it for real?”
Therefore, we sit here while you get one out of the way? How does that serve anyone? Don’t wait to get into the room to say it out loud, or do it for the first time with someone. Make sure you do your scene with someone else. Even your dog. Engage. It cannot live in your head or as you talk to the air in your shower or your car. Make your choices, feel what it’s like to engage with someone, know what you’re feeling, have a point of view, and then come into the room to explore.

9. “I just said that out loud for the first time.”
Why? See above.

10. “So many words.”
What a gift! Find ways to learn your lines; it’s part of your craft. Different methods work but they all require commitment, certainty, and connection to what you’re actually talking about. Nobody didn’t get a job because they got every line right, but you have to decide you know it, and be fully engaged. The words will come.

11. “How do you pronounce_____?” (a word you can easily look up)
Seriously, look it up.

12.You don’t actually say anything, but when you finish the scene you make a face like you’ve just smelled feces.
Are you waiting for us to take care of you? We can’t. We don’t have the time. Nor is it our job, as much as we often suffer from being enablers. Do the work for the work, for you, but not so that we will tell you that you did it right.

13.“Well that sucked.”
And we’re done.

We don’t want to sound harsh, but we need you to walk into the room ready to work, with conviction and sureness, happy to be there. Then we can do our work together. Then we can create something that is in service of the script. Then we can take your unique interpretation to the next level. Help us do that!

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Risa Bramon Garcia
For the past 40 years, Risa has worked as a director, producer, casting director, and teacher. Having directed two features—including “200 Cigarettes”—she has also directed for TV and dozens of plays in New York and Los Angeles. Her casting résumé includes more than 80 feature films and shows, and includes “Desperately Seeking Susan,” “Fatal Attraction,” “JFK,” “The Joy Luck Club,” “The Affair,” “Masters of Sex,” and the original “Roseanne.” She is a founding partner of The BGB Studio, known for revolutionary acting training.
See full bio and articles here!
Steve Braun
Steve Braun is an acting coach, teacher, and communication consultant, drawing on years of acting, Buddhist practice, and martial arts training to help his clients discover and express their unique emotional truth. When he pursued an acting career, he starred in movies, was a series regular many times, and guest starred on numerous TV shows. He is a founding partner of The BGB Studio, known for revolutionary acting training.
See full bio and articles here!