One Difference Between Auditioning and Performing

Greg Cut Out 2As a casting director you expect me to be silent and polite during your audition. And yes, I am. But if you come in to my audition space, and you deliver a pre-set, pre-conceived, pre-plotted, totally locked down delivery, then I will start to yawn a bit…quite a bit.

Why? Because I am seeing these same lines of dialogue delivered by the same type of actor again and again. And if you are locked into a certain delivery—a specific delivery—then you are going to bore me.

You have no magic, no moments. Every pause, inflection, punctuation mark is locked in. You have not prepared the character. You have prepared the delivery.

To which I usually say to the actor “I bet if I took all my clothes off, and ran around the audition room naked, you will still deliver exactly the same rhythm.” (By the way, as soon as I threaten to strip, a look of complete horror crosses the actor’s face and usually they get the idea. It is a foolproof piece of direction: I will take all my clothes off if you do that same delivery again. Works every time.)

You have delivered a character that is oblivious to anything around them. Your goal is simply to deliver the words on the page, and not a character that is special. A character that is unique to you.

As I say, you know exactly what you are going to do at every point in the scene.

Do you think the memorable screen actors such as Johnny Depp, Kristen Wiig, Seth Rogen, or any others think they know exactly how they will deliver each line?

Of course not. But you do—especially in an audition. Why? Because you think you are right for the part, you think you are really close to the character, so you enter the room with one goal.

Do not make a mistake…and that is your first mistake.

You extract every variable, every moment, every element of risk. And what is left is deathly dull, because the last actor just delivered it, as will the next, and the one after.

There is one important difference between an audition and a performance. When you are doing the role, we see it once and the moment is gone. But in an audition, we see the same lines again and again and again.

So if you have an audition with me, and I start to disrobe, be afraid. Be very afraid.

Not surprisingly, as I am now a grandfather, I do not have the body of a Greek god. So believe me, you want me to keep my clothes on.