Do actors always have to audition for parts?

Do they? Or are they sometimes just offered a part that they can accept or deny? And if the latter, does that happen very often to actors and actresses who aren’t household names?

In a recent webcast interview with John Lithgow and one of the producers of Dexter it was said that actors of Lithgow’s stature don’t audition, and that he was offered the part and spent a little time deciding he would do it.

I believe James Gandolfini did read for Tony Soprano, but at the time his credentials were less well known, with the smallish role in True Romance being his main showcase.

I have no idea where the threshold for not having to audition comes, but it may have as much to do with salary and agent clout as anything. That’s a guess on my part.

I’m sure familiarity with a director/producer helps as well. Joss Whedon often recycles the same actors in his shows and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t make them audition for parts each time, even if it is a different series. I can say pretty confidently that Nathan Fillion didn’t audition for Captain Hammer.

Here’s one about James Gunn’s new movie Super. Link

It depends wildly. High-stature actors certainly don’t, and medium-stature actors probably audition sometimes, but I think they’re more likely to get called in and asked to read for a part without auditioning. And certainly directors have favorite of actors of all statures that they use and reuse, simply because they like working with the person.

I don’t have any firsthand knowledge or experience of the movie/TV or theatre business, but I do recall tha a number of DVD commentaries (especially for TV shows) seem to pretty heavily imply that the creators just call people they think will be good for the part to give them first refusal, without bothering with things like an audition.

I would think it depends largely on your definition of audition

Directors aren’t just pulling names out of their arse - to offer a role must be based on previous performance ofhte actor right?

From watching the Lost DVD extras -
some people auditioned
some people were hired as particular characters because they were what the producers wanted
some people had characters written for them.

ETA - I think it was Jorge Garcia (Hurley) who auditioned for the part of Sawyer, but the producers liked him so much they created Hurley for him

I was thinking about this later and I gave the wrong impression about the interview that was webcast. Lithgow wasn’t present. I recall hearing his version of how he decided on the part (may have been on Showtime after the last episode), but I also remember that the interview with the producer was in advance of the final episode and was “live” in that callers and emailers and people on Twitter and Facebook (etc.) could relay questions about the series and episode to three questioner types who then interpreted them for the producer.

It was a great exchange. There’s a lot of planning involved in that show. They ought to be cranking up the process of establishing the next season by now.

There are videos of people auditioning for Star Wars including Cindy Williams for Princess Leia.

SNL did some funny bits on people trying out for Star Wars.

Kevin Spacey as Jack Lemmon auditioning for Chewbacca.

From what I’ve gathered, the bar for not having to audition is not just limited to high-dollar household-name actors; most actors who have been around for a while are not expected to audition. I heard an interview once with John Slattery (Roger Sterling on “Mad Men”) where he was talking about having to audition for the part, and that was really weird as he hadn’t auditioned in years and years.

Looking at his IMDB page, he’s certainly done a lot of work, but he’s not a household name. At least not in MY household.

Lithgow was also offered 3rd Rock without auditioning. When they were putting the sow together, someone asked 'Who would be good fdr the Higt Commander?" Someone answered “John Lithgow,” they offered him the role and that was thas…

Even unknown actors don’t have to audition if they write their own parts. Stallone in “Rocky,” Affleck and Damon in “Good Will Hunting”, McLaughlin in “Billy Jack” to name a few.

This is what I was really wondering, if someone might just be called up and asked “Have you read __? We’re adapting it. want to be ___?” and have first refusal.

Thanks, folks :slight_smile:

I read an article about Meryl Streep being asked to come in for an audition. She came in, pulled her Oscars out of her purse and said something like “Some people think I can act”.

Dunno if that’s snotty in her line of work but it struck me as pretty funny.

I read an article a while back about an audition for The Godfather. The story went something like this:

Coppola really wanted Brando to play Don Vito Corleone. The studio heads, apparently thinking that Brando was too young to play the old Don, wanted him to audition for the part. Coppola knew that asking a star of Brando’s stature (this was before he became a joke, remember) to audition would be horribly insulting. To sidestep the issue, he asked Brando to come in for a “voice and makeup test”, recorded it, and made that Brando’s audition. Brando’s cheeks-stuffed-with-cotton performance won over the studio heads, and he got the role.

I think the book’s at the house, I’ll try to find the article.

At the very lowest end of the scale, sorta outlaw community theatre level, I’ve been involved with a group that would pick something we wanted to do, cast the principal parts among us, and audition/beg/borrow/steal whoever else we needed to complete the cast. I did 2-3 plays that way as an actor, and directed Vanities as well.

Also, I’ve been outright offered a couple of parts in indy films, but the timing/financing never seem to work out to where I could do it.

Now that would have been an very interesting choice. It’s a bit of a shame he didn’t get it, actually - would have been neat to see Garcia show a bit more range. Sawyer has that, Hurley rarely does.

I’d heard that story told about Shelley Winters, here, for example. According to that writer, upon presenting her Oscar statuettes, she said, "“Ya still want me to audition?”

That strikes me as odd, because I was always under the impression that auditions for professional productions were less about seeing whether or not an actor could act, and more about how a particular actor would play a particular part. All actors are different, so it would make sense for directors and casting directors to gauge which actor’s interpretation they preferred more. I am admittedly ignorant on most things show business, having only acted in a couple school plays, so I might just be pulling this out of my ass.