It pains me to have to say this. After years of writing this column advising actors how to succeed, I have to circle back and write what seems to be the most basic advice.
I’ve always maintained that if you’re coming in for a role in a television or film project, you should read the entire script. I don’t care whether you’re coming in for one line or 20. There is simply no way you can know what this piece is about—the tone, the language of it—unless you’ve read the script. It’s a SAG-AFTRA rule that the script must be available to all who are auditioning. Make sure you get it from your agent. If they’re lazy, then bust them on it, because nothing makes me crazier than an actor who comes in unprepared. I go to great pains to give appointments two to three days ahead, if possible, so actors can take the extra time to be prepared and do their best. When someone comes in and says, “Oh, I just got the sides and my agent said there’s no script,” it drives me mad. It’s disrespectful to myself, the director, producers, the writer—who is sometimes in the room—and more importantly to you. This is your one chance to make an impression. Grab it as a fully informed actor.
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In some cases, like when I cast for Steven Spielberg, his scripts are top secret, so no one read them in their entirety unless they already had the part. Instead, actors received special audition scenes.
I know in television series they don’t usually have the script written while they’re auditioning, but at least then actors are operating on a level playing field—no one has it! Ask questions. Ask for the synopsis. Ask the CD what happened just before this scene so you know how to build into what you’re auditioning for.
I can’t tell you how many people come in—not just kids, but adults and seasoned actors—who should know better and still haven’t read the script. This is my ultimate pet peeve. Imagine you’re a doctor and are performing surgery tomorrow. I’ll bet you that you’ll do research and reread literature on the procedure. This is your job, folks. Why not do it properly?
In addition, if we ask you to bring your picture and résumé to the audition, we aren’t kidding. All casting offices work differently, so please pay close attention to the instructions on your appointment. If we say we’re allergic to perfume or cologne, we absolutely mean that, too.
OK, rant over! Thanks for reading.
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