Listen to your Spidey senses grasshopper!
Have you ever had that feeling? You know the kind you get when a black cat jumps in front of you while you’re on a jog, or the one you get when you realize it’s a full moon on Friday the 13th at 3 a.m.
The worst thing that ever happened to me as an actor, started with a day that was chocked full of those feelings.
The entire day was a comedy of errors and an all around cluster…
I was new in town and by a stroke of sheer luck, which in retrospect was most likely a clerical error (they called in the wrong Scott to audition), I got an opportunity to read for one of the biggest CDs in town.
The part was for a 3rd lead in a studio feature alongside a great first and second lead that had already been attached to the movie. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time so that opportunity gave me the ego boost I never needed.
I spent the week leading up to the audition, in the zone.
I built my character a dozen times, did real world research talking to people that worked in the character’s profession, lived in his supposed neighborhood, had the character’s habits, etc. Nothing, not even the minor earthquake could pull my attention away from the mission.
Thinking I was a bit too lean for the role, I even went on a few weight gainer supplements to pack on a few lbs. before the big day.
When it finally arrived, I was stoked! I overdosed on melatonin the night before in an effort to get some sleep. I managed to get a few hours of sleep, but I still had to do the cold-cucumber-eye thing in the morning.
I wanted to be in a good headspace that day so I stayed off email, stayed offline and spent the morning getting ready while humming along to a mix of Beethoven and Mingus.
I hopped out of the shower, still conducting an imaginary orchestra, and put on my lucky robe just as the music hit a crescendo and proceeded to knock my body spray into the sink (this was at a time when men’s body spray was the thing).
The top flew off and the aerosol can began to empty uncontrollably and nailed me right in the left eye!
The stinging I was OK with, but I looked like a had just been in a mean brawl. That’s when the panic started to set in.
I loaded up on Visine, packed on some cucumbers, and brewed some tea to relax. I had picked out my audition day outfit a few days before.
This is a good time to say that the character I was reading for was kind of a not cool guy, trying to be cool…I went with leather-like pants. On a warm, southern California day, they were a bit snug. Especially after a week of packing on a few pounds.
Fast forward and I’m now in the car. My Spidey senses are tingling like crazy!
The key goes into the ignition and…
It wouldn’t turn!
Turns out, I had locked the wheel by pulling on it when I got out of the car the night before, but I didn’t know it at the time. I spent ten minutes trying to turn the key, stomping on the gas pedal, and I even popped the hood as if I knew what I was looking at LOL!
Out of desperation, I flagged down a guy on a Harley (figuring he was probably more mechanically inclined than I was). He helped me unlock the wheel, in 3 seconds and was nice enough to not call me a moron LOL!
By this time I’m running a few minutes late and the redness is starting to creep back into my left eye.
I get to the audition, check in with my sunglasses still on, and wait to be called. I paced around the room, because my pants were a bit too snug to sit in comfortably.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, I get called to read. As I walked towards the open door, I noticed she was holding a headshot. She flipped it over as if doing a double take and watched with some confusion as I entered.
There I was, finally in the room that I was certain was going to change my life forever, nervous as ever. I greeted everyone, while avoiding eye contact and tilting my head to the right in an effort to hide my obviously irritated left eye.
The CD and whomever was next to her, whispered as they looked at the headshot, looked up at me, and then back down at my headshot. Even from across the room and with only one good eye, I could see…
It wasn’t my headshot!
They politely proceeded as usual and let me read anyway.
I started the scene seated in a chair and as the energy of the scene got more intense, I leaped out of the chair (showing strong emotion) and…
My leather-like pants ripped from zipper to cuff and I stood there with a bare leg, a red eye, and what felt like cardiac arrest as the collective gasp sucked the air out of the room.
Not knowing what to do or say, all I could muster was a weird shrug and “Well that just happened.”
I even finished the scene, after the laughter had subsided.
As horrible as that was, I must say, this room was full of complete professionals. They didn’t ridicule me, and they even knew some kind of mishap had occurred but let me read anyway.
After awkward pleasantries at the end I left, knowing I was not going to get the part. I knew that I had just wasted an entire week of my life preparing for this disaster.
I emailed my agent that night and told him that I would be out of town until further notice.
A couple weeks later, I ran into the ACD at dinner. I tried to duck and avoid her, but she instantly recognized me. After recanting what happened, she said something that stuck with me.
“We could tell you were super prepared and aside from basically dropping your trousers, very professional.”
The first part of that is what’s important. Initially, I thought that I wasted a week preparing for the audition that I blew on a legendary level!
What really happened was that I learned how to prepare for an audition with laser focus. I learned how to build a character, and tear it down to uncover every conceivable angle.
That focus and dedication helped me build new routines and habits that I still use to this day. They have probably been the single most important part of my career.
See, there’s no shortcut to success. Preparation has to meet opportunity. That’s where success is.
While there may not be a shortcut, there is an easy button.
The reality is that hard work and preparation are not enough to take you all the way. It may get you into the room, but in order to close the deal and land the role, you will need two other things. You can get them here.
So grasshopper what’s your audition horror story? Let me know in the comments below or shoot me an email. I read every one that comes through.
See you at the top,
P.S. To dramatically increase your bookings, check this out.