Life is a string of ups and downs, and actors know it as well as the next guy. Most of them can recall – out of their multiple auditions – the worst one, and some of these are really incredible. Read on about celebs’ worst auditions ever!
Meryl Streep was actually branded as “ugly”
Oftentimes Meryl Streep is regarded as the First Lady of American Cinema, but there was a time when she was no more than an aspiring actress in the Big Apple. At 27 Streep got an opportunity to be chosen for Dino De Laurentiis’s version of King Kong and went to an audition. Whatever her performance was, it was her looks that disappointed the producer.
De Laurentiis turned out to be so displeased that he labeled Streep as ugly right before her in Italian, being totally unaware that the actress knows Italian and understands him.
“I’m sorry you think I’m too ugly for your film,” she retorted when he made a pause, “but you’re just one opinion in a sea of thousands, and I’m off to find a kinder tide.”
We all know the outcome: Streep rose extremely high in her profession, while the movie ended up a flop.
Dakota Johnson took her shirt off during an audition
“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,” the story ran as related by Johnson himself late in 2012 to The Hollywood Reporter.
“And then afterwards, they were like, ‘Uh, that was great. That was really nice,’ and I was like, ‘Thank you,’ and had to pick my shirt up off the floor and still talk to them and put it back on. It was inappropriate. And also still embarrassing, and I’m more embarrassed that I just told that story.”
Margot Robbie: high during an audition
It so happened that Margot Robbie underwent a surgery but on the very next day a big audition was scheduled. When she was to go there she was in pain and her friend gave her painkillers for root canal pain – she couldn’t but take them. Consequently, she turned up for the audition as “high” as one can be.
When she told the story, it sounded like a ridiculous mistake. “He said, ‘Here, take two’. And when he said, ‘Take two’ I thought he meant to take two as the dosage, but he really meant to take two just in case I needed another one later.”
“Anyway, I woke up and I was getting ready for this audition, didn’t get time to eat breakfast so, on an empty stomach, I had two. I’m driving and halfway there I was suddenly like, ‘Oh my God, what a lovely day it is!”
Robbie realized she was not quite herself and failed to acquit herself well at the audition.
The audition over, she was going on to a driving test for an American license, but she decided it would be better to scratch it out.
Ryan Gosling found the casting director totally unheeding
As a casting scene is progressing in La La Land, the movie granted with the Academy Award, Emma Stone’s character is having an audition when her emotional performance is interrupted by the casting director’s phone ringing, and he picks up the handset. This shouldn’t happen, but it does, as Ryan Gosling can testify – it happened to him.
As Gosling was pouring out his best, a casting director chose to answer his ringing phone. Chances are he lost more than he received, while Gosling received more than he lost. Life is a chain of choices.
Aaron Paul wasn’t good at his ‘breaking bad’ audition
Auditioning for the part of Jesse Pinkman on AMC’s Breaking Bad, Aaron Paul bungled it as badly as it could ever be done.
What turned out as a three-Emmy Award role later on started as a sheer nightmare: the actor barely made it through his lines, losing the track along the way more than once and finally giving way to profanity. He fell down on the audition so obviously that he found it right to render his apologies for the poor show.
Despite what he must have written off as a lost opportunity, Paul did get the part – and managed to make his Jesse Pinkman so plausible and impressive that he created one of the television’s legends of the current century.
What Emma Stone improvised got everyone impressed
Emma Stone has wanted to act since a very young age, so it’s little wonder she wanted to be on Nickelodeon’s All That. The thing was, Stone wasn’t a professional, nor did she have show business parents to take after. Nobody told her to get prepared. She showed up with a clean plate only to find that what she was called upon to do was to create a character there and then.
Stone rose to the occasion and switched on her creative talent. Speaking with Jimmy Fallon, she described one of her creations as “a babysitter who is possessed. So as she’s reading books to the kids, she’ll go like ‘Goldilocks and the [sudden deep voice] THREE BEARS.’”
Daniel Radcliffe told stories out of place
It was a very decisive audition that Daniel Radcliffe was to take, but upon entering the casting director’s office, something prompted him to embark on a gossip story about an unspecified person. The British actor wasn’t above relating the whole disconcerting incident to BuzzFeed. According to him, he was carried away by his gossipy recital.
“[Then] 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 person who had come into the room], 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.”
Elizabeth Olsen never became Daenerys
The Wanda Maximoff genius Elizabeth Olsen failed to make her point as the Game of Thrones’ mother of dragons – whatever the reason, she was unable to get inspired.
As she commented:
“I was doing the Khaleesi speech when she comes out of the fire. It was awful, I didn’t get a callback.”
In 2019 the award-winning Californian was open about the experience when interviewed by Vulture.
Olsen was to recite Khaleesi’s queen monologue at the end of the first season – and she admits that she had a tough time doing it.
“She’s making this speech to thousands of people about how she’s their queen,” she remembers.
“They didn’t know if they wanted a British accent or not. So, you did it in both. It was terrible. Anytime someone says, ‘Bad audition story,’ that’s one I remember.”
How Matt LeBlanc became Joey Tribbiani
Matt LeBlanc is another actor whose worst audition won him a role – what’s more, it was one of his biggest successes: Joey Tribbiani on NBC’s Friends.
Interesting facts came out at the Friends reunion in the spring of 2021. “I remember I had gone in a bunch of times and I think it was on the final callback, I had gone with a friend of mine to run lines,” LeBlanc recounted. “And he said, ‘So the show is about friends and being friends? Just a group of friends?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, kinda!’ And he was like, ‘Well, we should go out drinking.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s a good idea!’”
The actor couldn’t have been more wrong about it.
“To make a long story short, I woke up in the middle of the night at his apartment and had to go to the bathroom,” LeBlanc shared. “I got up too fast and I can’t believe I’m telling this, but I kind of blacked out — as you do — and fell face-first into the toilet, hit my nose on the bottom of the toilet seat, and a huge chunk of meat came off my nose. And I’m looking in the mirror, it’s bleeding, and I’m like, ‘Oh, my God. I have to go in for the big callback and [there’s] a big ugly scab on my nose.’”
While he was apprehensive about the outcome of the audition, Marta Kaufmann, one of the authors of the show, decided that it was right in line with Joey’s nature and LeBlanc fitted the bill perfectly.
Jake Gyllenhaal used to be “the worst actor… ever seen”
Jake Gyllenhaal might have been on the Lord of the Rings – as he conveyed to Jimmy Fallon back in 2016 on The Tonight Show. It appears that there had been a strong opinion that Gyllenhaal would make a marvelous Frodo. As we all know, the character was portrayed by Elijah Wood; nevertheless, Gyllenhaal had his audition.
The audition went astray (in the actor’s opinion) as he was asked to act in obedience to “lots of stage directions” yet having “no lines” to say.
Finally, director Peter Jackson found fault with how he put the scene across.
“Literally, Peter Jackson was like, [facepalm],” the Nightcrawler star admitted to being on the receiving end of Jackson’s very strident criticism. “[He said,] ‘You are the worst actor that I have ever seen. Did anyone tell you you’re supposed to have an accent?’”
Hugh Jackman’s share of bad luck
In 2000 the award-winning Australian made an attempt to land the role of FBI agent Eric Matthews in Warner Bros’ Miss Congeniality (which at the end he lost to Benjamin Bratt). He reminisced about the episode in a Variety interview a couple of months ago.
“No one knew X-Men yet. I was a nobody,” admitted Jackson and proceeded to tell how astonished he’d been to discover that Sandra Bullock was going to attend as well.
“It was the first time I’d tested [with another actor]. I was impressed that she was in there. I didn’t expect her to be in there. I’m guessing eight people she tested with,” he added.
He was even more impressed because he considered Bullock to be nothing short of wonderful so alongside her he felt not quite up to the mark. “I was pedaling as fast as I could, but I didn’t know the script well enough,” he reminisced.
All in all, Jackman felt he was left humiliated, all the more so since he counted on getting the role: his agent meant to bargain with it for another upcoming movie.