Henry Cavill, Emma Stone and More A-Listers Spill Their Cringeworthy Failed Audition Stories
Henry Cavill, Casino Royale
“I probably could have prepared better,” Cavill recalled to Men's Health of his audition for the Bond film, during which he was asked to reenact a scene of the first James Bond, Sean Connery, exiting a bathroom in nothing but a towel.
“I remember the director, Martin Campbell, saying, ‘Looking a little chubby there, Henry,'” Cavill said. “I didn’t know how to train or diet. And I’m glad Martin said something, because I respond well to truth. It helps me get better.”
“I wasn’t ecstatic about not getting these things,” Cavill added of a string of denials, “but I was so used to disappointment from the acting business, and also from boarding school. ‘No, you’re not good enough’ — that wasn’t anything new to me.”
EDDIE REDMAYNE, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
The Oscar winner ‘fessed up to his "catastrophically bad" attempt to join the franchise on the podcast "Happy Sad Confused" in 2014, and spilled even more details in an interview with Uproxxx. "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," Redmayne, who was going out for the role of Kylo Ren, told Uproxx. "If you're me, you then put some ridiculous voice on. That was a really 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 10 shots she's like, 'You got anything else?' I was like, 'No.'"
CHRIS EVANS, GONE BABY GONE
Despite not usually getting starstruck, the actor came down with a serious case of the jitters when he auditioned for director Ben Affleck's 2007 movie. "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,'" he recounted to Backstage. "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--- 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."
RYAN REYNOLDS, UNKNOWN MOVIE
Reynolds' venture into the world of musicals was decidedly unsuccessful. "I was never a great auditioner. But I had one where I had to sing, and I'm a nervous singer," he revealed to Taraji P. Henson during a Variety Studios: Actors on Actors conversation. "I'm one of those people that … you know when you're in the shower, and you're like, 'This is pretty good?' But once I get out into the real world, it's just like my voice turns into a hammer that hits everybody in the face. So I did an audition where I had to sing, and it was prettybad. It's one of those auditions that was so bad that I look back and I think, 'What if that tape surfaces at some point? That'll be the death of me.' Yeah. That was pretty awful."
JARED LETO, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION
"One of my first auditions was for one line in Star Trek, just one line in Star Trek: The New Generation," the actor told E! News. "Great show, but I was terrible and I definitely did not get the part." Leto went on to recall another failed attention, this one for a sitcom reboot. "I remember going up for like, WKRP in Cincinnati, the new years, they tried to remake the show. Definitely didn't get the part. I remember being so bad, just so embarrassed reading. Like, how can you be so bad?"
DAKOTA JOHNSON, UNKNOWN MOVIE
The Fifty Shades of Grey star relived her humiliating audition experience while talking to The Hollywood Reporter. "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," she said. "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."
TINA FEY, A MCDONALD'S COMMERCIAL
Fey recounted her worst ever audition story for a Tonight Show web exclusive. "I didn't realize that the commercial was set at a McDonald's drive-thru, so you had to go up like [from the side]," she said. "And I have this big 'ole scar on my face, which I didn't realize was going to be featured prominently in my audition for McDonald's … So basically after a two-and-a-half-hour wait I got in there and was like … 'Hi, I'll have a Big Mac and my scar will have an orange soda.' And then I just left, because they weren't going to give me that."
NICHOLAS HOULT, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN
"One of my all-time worst [auditions] was definitely Prince Caspian," Hoult told Entertainment Weekly. "They asked if I could do a Hispanic accent. I was like, 'What would I base that on?' They were like, 'Have you seen Shrek? Puss in Boots.' I was doing the scene, but in my head before saying each line, I was trying to do my Antonio Banderas impression, saying [in a Desperado voice] 'I am Prince Caspian!' It was horrendous. It sounded more like Borat."
EMMA STONE, ALL THAT
She's been making us laugh on screens for years, but Stone wanted to start even earlier. When she was 12, she auditioned for Nickelodeon's All That. Despite how funny we know Stone to be, she didn't nail her audition prep. In fact, she didn't realize that she had to prepare characters ahead of time, and had to do it all off-the-cuff. Still sounds like she did pretty well: "I remember that one was a cheerleader that couldn’t spell what she was cheering," she told Jimmy Fallon. "And then there was another one that was actually pretty nuts: 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.'"
JESSICA SIMPSON, THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB
It seems that practically every late '90s and early aughts pop star got his or her start on The Mickey Mouse Club — except one. Simpson auditioned for the show, and her nerves got the best of her. "I froze and forgot everything," she told PEOPLE. Of course, we now know it didn't do too much to stop her ascent to success.
LUCY HALE, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
No matter your past work, nothing can prepare you for auditioning for the very-sexy Fifty Shades. For Hale, it was an experience she'd rather forget. “That audition was so uncomfortable!" she told Cosmopolitan. "It’s exactly what you thought it would be: a big monologue but very, very sexual. There were some things that I was so embarrassed to be reading out loud, but it’s one of those things where you have to commit wholeheartedly or you’re going to make a fool of yourself.”
ZAC EFRON, HAIRSPRAY
Though Efron ended up snagging the role of Link Larkin in the film adaptation of the musical Hairspray, it was a bumpy road to get there. Why? During his audition, the director told him he smiled too much. When he tried to stop, things went awry. "[I] couldn't do it," he told Cosmopolitan. "It was impossible. Because I was such a smiley kid, I couldn't do it. It took me like four or five tries and he [director Adam Shankman] was just shaking his head and making fun of me the whole time." Well, with a smile like that, why not use it?
JANUARY JONES, COYOTE UGLY
Actors have to be ready to do a lot to nab a job, but Jones wasn't quite prepared to pole dance without a pole during her audition for Coyote Ugly, an experience she called "one of the worst moments in my entire life." Afterward, the Mad Men actress was ready to ditch the business. "I just turned beet red," she said. "It was awful, and [producer Jerry Bruckheimer] said something like, 'Honey, you did a great reading, but you've got no rhythm.' I called my agent and said, 'I don't want to do this anymore.' "
JAKE GYLLENHAAL, LORD OF THE RINGS
He's an Oscar-nominated actor, but Gyllenhaal has another accolade to his name, too: one of the worst auditionees for Lord of the Rings. The actor tried out for the part of Frodo, but his accent was the nail in his Middle Earth coffin. “I remember auditioning for The Lord of the Rings and going in and not being told that I needed a British accent," he said. "I really do remember Peter Jackson saying to me, 'You know that you have to do this in a British accent?' We heard back it was literally one of the worst auditions."
CHRIS HEMSWORTH, THOR
Turns out, Hemsworth almost lost out on the role of Thor — to his little brother! During his initial go-round, he got audition jitters, and didn't even get a call back, he told W magazine. "I was intimidated by the director, Kenneth Branagh. To me, he is Shakespeare. My brother, Liam [Hemsworth], was luckier. He was one of the final five guys up for the part." But then the casting directors went through the final five without finding their Thor. That's when Hemsworth the elder swooped in. "My manager said, 'If you liked Liam, maybe you'll also like his older brother.' That time, I was pissed off. I didn't care about Shakespeare anymore. Swagger got me the part."
MERYL STREEP, KING KONG
Now we know Streep as an acting legend with a record-setting number of Oscar nominations — but if you can believe it, someone once had the audacity to turn her down. She auditioned for 1976's King Kong, and producer Dino De Laurentiis told her she wasn't pretty enough to be in the film. "Very sobering, as a young girl," she recalled of the experience. How. Dare. He!