So you didn’t get the role – because you’re not the right ‘fit’
Some of it is stuff you can’t change, and that’s the hardest feedback for me to give an actor. It’s easier for me to give that kind of feedback to your agent, because if I’m looking for someone short and you’re 6 feet tall, your agent will stop calling me. If I need someone who speaks Russian and you don’t – your agent will stop calling me. Here’s where it gets worse – if I need someone with size DD boobs, because they’re a caricature of society’s ingrained idea of “sexy,” your agent understands that and will stop calling me. And here’s my least favorite – if my network has to have a specific number of actors that can check off an ethnicity other than Caucasian on their employment forms, and they’ve decided it’s going to be this one particular character – your agent understands that, and will stop calling me. I hate all those calls. I’d love to live in a world in which our looks didn’t define our character. That any person could play and represent any character, as long as they brought truth to the character. However – there are some instinctive connotations that come with our looks, and sometimes we have to use those looks as a tool, to make our audience trust the truths we’re trying to tell. And sometimes we can’t just cast an individual role. We have to always keep in mind the entire tapestry we’re weaving.
What’s harder to explain to an agent, but easier to explain when I’m talking to an actor one on one, is when the actual character doesn’t fit.
Maybe I can sense that you’ve got a darkness that you can bring forth. But maybe that darkness comes out as power – as a truly villainous, psychopathic, tortured hero of his/her own mind. That’s a beautiful, twisted character to explore – but this one, this role that I brought you in for? This role’s darkness comes from a deep, burning desire to be noticed and loved. This character lashes out in the hopes that someone will grab hold, and save them from drowning. Both dark, twisted characters – and fabulous ones to explore and create. But one is the role that’s written, and one is a role that’s down the pipeline, that you should wait for.
Or maybe this character is sensitive, and vulnerable – which I know you can do, believe me. But maybe your default as a person, is having that shell around the sensitive and vulnerable center. There’s nothing wrong with that! But there are also people who are able to be sensitive and vulnerable on the surface. Maybe they’re not as great as you are at creating that shell – and that’s what makes you fit in different roles. You’re both capable of sensitive and vulnerable. But there are different shades to every character. None are wrong – it’s just a choice, in the end. What story you want to tell.
And on rare occasions – I have to make the call that after going through the entire process – a producer brings up a friend of a friend, and wants them hired for this role.
There are a few possibilities here. One – that person sucks at acting, and it’s a total favor. Everyone on the team knows, everyone on set will know, everyone in post will know, and it’ll even come across on-screen to the audience. They suck, and they’re the reason this industry seems so greasy.
Great. The vindictive version is out of the way.
Two – that person is an underrated actor that doesn’t stand a chance next to someone with a more impressive resume, a.k.a. quite possibly you. Because of the relationship they have with that producer, or that director, or whoever, they’re getting an opportunity and they’re not taking it lightly. They will do their best, and it’s quite possible they’ll bring something totally different to the role, and bring something unexpectedly beautiful to the story. Don’t hate this person – because someday it could be you.
Three – I can’t hate on directors/producers/writers that want to hire their friends. Think about it. If you were starting a business venture, would you want to hire someone who looks good on paper, who maybe even gave a great interview – or would you to start that company with your best friend who has an MBA, who you’d trust with your life and who you could talk to about anything? At a certain point – you want to surround yourself with those you trust to understand not only your vision but also your process. And you’d want to respect them too – think of that friend, that’s awesome at everything but doesn’t have time to work on your projects. What if you had an opportunity to offer them real money, with a real project, and actually get to work together? Wouldn’t you jump at that opportunity?
I confess, I do it too. There are certain actors I love and after knowing them for a while – that I trust. I bring them up for everything, because I trust them and respect them.
There are so, so, SO many factors that go into why someone gets a role. Often times – if I say you’re not the right fit, it’s a multitude of reasons that yes, I could explain, but it won’t help you with your next audition. So for now – you did well, but the fit isn’t quite right.