By: Holly Powell
There are many theories and opinions out there about whether an actor should walk into the audition room in character or not. Some actors have told me that a coach they worked with had been adamant that they should walk into the room in character, and another coach had advised them against that. Confusion about this seemed to dominate their whole audition process, and they were defeated about their audition before they could even walk into the Casting Directors office fearing they were making the wrong choice.
From my point of view as a Casting Director for 23 years, I can tell you…don’t walk into the audition room in character. Walk in focused and ready to go, say “Hello” or “Nice to see you”, looking the Casting Director, Director or Producers in the eyes. This could be the only moment during your audition where a little bit of your personality comes through. And just that, “Hi, how are you”, can speak volumes about who you are as a person…are you an asshole, arrogant, unprepared, nervous or confident.
When I started teaching my Audition Workshops and coaching actors, a Manager I had worked with for many years called me and said he was going to send me one of his clients for a private session. The Manager was concerned because this actor had been working steadily for several years working on great projects, but for the last year the actor had not booked anything. He wasn’t even getting many callbacks. The Manager asked me to work with him and see if it was something he was doing in the audition room that was causing this booking draught.
At the beginning of our session together, I chatted with the actor asking him how he felt in the audition room and asked him what kinds of parts was he mostly called in for. He told me he was usually called in to play ass-holes, terrorists, jerks or the bad guy. I took a beat and said, “Do you walk into the room in character?” He answered, “Well, I never did until about a year ago when a coach told me I should always walk into the room in character”. “When you chat with the Casting Director and Producers after the audition is over, do you chat with them in character?” I said. He took a beat, “Yes”. “That’s why you haven’t worked in a year”, I told him.
I explained that when the Casting Director, Director or Producers chat with an actor after the audition is over, they are trying to get to know a little more about the actor and get a better ‘feel’ for who they are. This actor was coming across as an asshole, arrogant jerk and these Producers didn’t want him anywhere near their set. The relief the actor felt when he realized he was allowed to be “himself” when chatting with the auditors, was transformational. He was so excited, and I watched his whole body relax as he realized he didn’t have to carry on an “act” the whole time he was in the audition room. That same day the actor went to an audition, and he called me later to tell me he had gotten an immediate callback! He was back to his “old-self”…a working professional actor.