Blake Lively (Mrs. Doubfire) — “Mrs. Doubtfire was around when I was five. They couldn’t find anyone for it, and I was always in on these auditions because my mom manages and coaches these kids. One day they said, ‘Oh, could we see you?’ Because I was just tagging along with my mom. So I went in, and I read for it and I got to the final two between me and [Mara Wilson]. So it was between the two of us, and my mom didn’t want me to get nervous. I didn’t care. I was five. We were going to Disneyland after the opening of Toon Town. That’s all I cared about. And the night before, my dad was really stupid. He took me to see a Robin Williams movie, and I was reading with him. So she didn’t want me to freak out at five, get star-struck or whatever. So she’s like, ‘OK, Blake, this isn’t Robin Williams. This is his twin brother. Robin Williams is in Europe right now, so you’re going to meet his twin brother.’ So I go in there and I’m sitting there and they’re like, ‘OK, this is Robin.’ And I said, ‘You’re not his twin?’ And then I walked out of the room and she said, ‘So how’d it go?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know, he had morning breath.’ That’s how we left it. It was horrible.”
Bryan Cranston (Unknown movie) — I was auditioning for a movie at Paramount. There was a male casting director. I don’t remember his name. I was 21 at the time. The character in that movie, it said, was a cocky, self-centered, egotistical brat. I remember wearing cowboy boots and jeans, an open loose shirt. The story took place in Texas or something like that, so I thought, ‘I’m going to go in there and be just this guy.’ So I walked in like this and he stands up, holds out his hand and I go, psh. I just scoff. I sat down, kicked my boots up onto his desk and sat and just kind of looked at him like that. He sat down, he looked at my boots and said, ‘Get your boots off of my desk.’ And I went, ‘Oh s—t.’ Then I went psh. I just scoffed at him again and he goes, ‘GET YOUR BOOTS OFF MY DESK.’ And I just thought, it’s over, and I just took the boots, sat up a little bit. He’s looking at me with venom. ‘I tried something. Didn’t work. I’m sorry,’ and said, ‘Wouldn’t really matter if I read now, would it?’ And he goes, ‘No.’ I got up and walked out. The one thing, even though he hated it and it didn’t work, I bet he tells that story. I bet if he were asked, ‘What is some stupid thing actors do?’ ‘One actor came in …’ — but I would do it again.”
Dakota Johnson (Unknown Movie) — ” I had an audition, and I got really into it, got really into the scene and it was really dramatic and I took my shirt off, and then you didn’t have to do that. And then afterwards, they were like, ‘Uh, that was great. That was really nice,’ and I said, ‘Thanks,’ and had to pick my shirt up off the floor and still talk to them and put it back on. It was inappropriate. And embarrassing. It’s still embarrassing, and I’m more embarrassed that I just told that story.” (She didn’t get the part).
Chris Evans (Gone Baby Gone) — “I don’t get starstruck. I’m fine. Especially Ben [Affleck]—he’s a Boston guy; I should be fine. I walked in, and I’m walking down the halls looking for this room, and as I passed a room I heard, ‘There he is.’ In my head I was like, ‘That’s Ben.’ I turned around and it was, and for some reason I instantly was nervous. I went in and shook his hand, and the first thing I said was ‘Hey, how ya doing? Am I gonna be okay where I parked?’ And he said, ‘Where’d you park?’ And I said, ‘At one of the meters.’ And he said, ‘Did you put money in it?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ And he said, ‘I think you’ll be all right.’ From that moment, I just wanted to get the f—k out of the room. I just wanted to be anywhere but there. I sat down with my heart beating out of my chest. I was so mortified that I started this meeting off that way. I started giving him one-word answers. They put me in a rocking chair, so I’m just rocking and twisting, just nervous. ‘So, what was your last movie like?’ ‘Good.’ ‘What was it like to work with Danny Boyle?’ ‘Good.’ I just wanted to get out of there. It was horrible, a complete disaster. So, obviously, I did not get that job.”
Emile Hirsch (No clue what this movie was): “I had a really awful audition with Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio. [Leo’s] supposed to play my dad, but he’s like 30, and I’m like 20, so it was weird. And then my character’s supposed to burst out crying. I couldn’t do it, and I’m like, ‘All right, just give me a moment.’ And De Niro’s like, ‘All right, whatever.’ So I turn around, and I just remember for two minutes like, ‘They’re thinking I’m trying to work myself up to cry right now. I’m not. I am just staring here thinking about them thinking about it.’ I had just wrapped Lords of Dogtown the day before, and I was unwinding from that. I was just so bummed out about it because I hadn’t really worked on the part at all. Here I was, like an idiot, somehow with two great actors, looking like a buffoon, and I was so bummed I couldn’t hardly look Bob De Niro in the eye. He was like, ‘Hey, hey, hey.’ And I was looking at him, and he was like, ‘Hey,’ trying to look me in the eye. He’s like, ‘It’s OK. You just wrapped this movie. Come back in a couple weeks. We’ve been there.’ [Leo] was supposed to be my dad, and it was really weird! If you haven’t really been around someone who’s that famous, and you meet them, it’s hard to see them as your dad right away. It’s like, ‘Romeo … oh, Dad. King … Dad. Dad? Gilbert Grape? Dad?’”
Bill Nighy (Unknown) — “There was one that started out terrible, which was where I had to go to a disused tax office in Harrow [near London, England] very early in the morning and put on very tight velvet flared loon pants and a pair of crocodile four-inch- heeled platform shoes, and wear a sort of very small top that didn’t meet my trousers, hair extensions and I had to karaoke to ‘Smoke on the Water’ by Deep Purple. It’s a very lonely place. And I was 45 at the time…”
January Jones (Coyote Ugly) — “One of the worst moments in my entire life. It was an audition for Coyote Ugly, my second audition ever. I’d done the reading for the acting part and then Jerry Bruckheimer wanted me to come in and dance … on top of the table … They said, ‘You’re going to dance to Prince’s ‘Kiss.’ You’re going to pole dance, but there is no pole.’ <
Daniel Radcliffe (Unknown movie) — I was in an audition and I was, not exactly bitching about somebody, but I was gossiping about somebody, and someone came into the room as I was halfway through the story and I was like, I can’t pull out now, I can’t just stop telling the story that would be a coward’s way out, so I took a chance and I was continuing telling it. I got to the end and I was looking at him [the guy who walked in], and I was like, ‘The person I’m talking about is a very good friend of yours, isn’t he?’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’ And then I had to do an audition with him.”
Adam Devine (Pitch Perfect) — (Devine was pulled from the set of Workaholics for a quick audition on Pitch Perfect, which he thought — based on the title — was a baseball movie.) “I’m like, looking at it [the audition materials], and it’s not a baseball movie. And there’s all these handsome dudes singing around me. And I’m like, “Why are all these guys singing? Nobody’s even swinging a bat or something, they’re all just beautifully singing songs.”
Devine, however, quickly pulled out the theme song from Family Matters, and ended up nailing the audition.
Ben Foster (Dawson’s Creek) — I had just gotten back from Toronto doing this Disney show, and I had a video camera, and I’d directed some plays and I really, really wanted to direct. For a birthday, I got one of those little viewfinders, and I was 15. I went to network for ‘Dawson’s Creek,’ and on the last one I realized I was really going to knock it out of the park. I wanted this show more than anything, because it was a kid who loved movies and he had some problems with a girlfriend. And I could relate. I liked movies, and I had a problem with a girl.
“So I came in with a viewfinder around my neck, and I wanted to show them that I liked movies, and I wore my Sundance cap. This is for network. And they said, ‘Okay, do these scenes.’ And I did them pretty good. It was like a mix-and-match and then I did it again. And they said, ‘Okay, thanks, Ben.’ And I thanked them. ‘So when do you think there’s going to be a callback, because I may be going out of town or something.’ And that’s a huge no-no, but you don’t know until you do that. And they said, ‘Yeah, we’ll get back to you. Thanks, it was a great read.’ I was like, ‘Okay, great. Do you want me to do it again in another way?’ They said, ‘No, no, that was fine, thank you.’ And there were, like, 20 people in the room. So I then shook 20 people’s hands. I refused to leave a single person without looking them in the eye. Then I knew something was building, but I thought it was my courage rather than these people really wanting me to get the f—k out of their room. So I leave the room and I wait two minutes outside the door, and I’m sweating. I’m like, ‘I didn’t do enough. I didn’t give enough.’ So I knocked on the door, and they’re like, ‘Yeah, come in.’ And they were shocked to see that I came back in. I was like, ‘I’m so sorry,’ and I adjusted the chair that I was sitting on in the room, because I kind of left it askew. And then I said, ‘Thanks so much. This was terrific, and I can’t wait to hear back.’ So I walked outside, and I couldn’t drive at the time, and my dad was supposed to pick me up. I was like, ‘You know what? Don’t come. Don’t pick me up yet.’ And he was like, ‘Why?’ I was like, ‘I’m going to really let them have it. Pick me up in two hours.’ So I sit and I wait outside, because it’s, like, 10 in the morning and I wait until, like, 12:30 for them to go to lunch. And I watch them all walk out of the office, and I’m there sitting with my viewfinder and a Sundance cap, and I just wave at them. So I get in the car—no, it wasn’t my dad; it was my girlfriend at the time’s mom, actually. She drove me back, and she’s like, ‘How’d it go?’ And I was like, ‘Really well. I really, like, committed.’ And I get back to the Oakwood Apartments, where I was living. And I’m waiting by the phone. Five o’clock, 6 o’clock rolls around, and you’re sweating by the phone, being like, ‘I got it. I know I got this.’ My manager calls up and I say, ‘Hey!’ and he says, ‘Hey. What the f—k did you do in there?’ I was like, ‘It went great, right?’ And he just said, ‘Whatever you just did, don’t ever do it again.’
Eddie Redmayne — Redmayne is a terrifying ginger-person, but he’s also rather charming, as he illustrates on The Graham Norton Show in explaining his hilariously disastrous audition as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit.
Redmayne also bombed his audition for Star Wars: “No. So, I was going for, I think, for Adam Driver. They gave me like a Star Trek scene - or like something from Pride and Prejudice. It was one of those films. With films that top secret, they don’t give you the actual lines. So they give you a scene from Pride and Prejudice, but then they tell you you’re auditioning for the baddie. If you’re me, you then put some ridiculous voice on.
That was really a hilarious moment. Because it was Nina Gold, who I have to thank a lot because she’s cast me in several films. And she was just sitting there and I was trying again and again with different versions of my kind of “koohh paaaah” [Darth Vader breathing sound] voice. And after like ten shots she’s like, “You got anything else?” I was like, “No.” I said, ‘Ok, that’s a childhood dream crushed.’”
James McAvoy — Recognizing that he was ill-suited for an audition and wanting to get out of it, McAvoy started crying, and then he made up a story about his friend being in the hospital to justify the crying.