Bad Actor! Bad!

April 10, 2011 at 8:01 am | Posted in acting, actors, Actors & Agents, auditions, entertainment | Leave a comment
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Recently an assistant helping me set-up a casting session suddenly said in regard to Answers for Actors, “I get the sense you’re very close to naming names.” I laughed and replied I never would do such. We don’t need Twittergate – The Sequel.

Well… that was then S.E. Hinton… this is now.

At this moment I’m close to publicly naming five disrespectful actors for recent irresponsible behavior that nearly cost my client to waste $10,000-plus in casting expenses (travel, rentals, staff, supplies, et. al.). Fortunately other actors saved the sessions. But what travesty could the dissing dramatists have done to be publicly branded for poor professionalism?

Each accepted auditions followed by subsequent call-backs knowing the full length of the project’s commitment dates and salary range; then when offers of employ were placed to these actors each passed citing via their agents, ‘they didn’t want to work out-of-town for the length of the contract’. Then why accept and attend the audition and call-backs?

What if a casting office called you in as an actor for an appointment for which you diligently prepared for, spent time and money to be your best, but when you arrived at the audition site the casting personnel dryly mumbled, “Go home. We canceled your appointment. We re-reviewed your resume and decided you’re not an object of our desire.” The message boards of the actor grapevine would be sour harvests of indignant thespian rancor.

Or… as I in jest suggested to my client; why not we follow the practice of some NYC restaurants that charge patrons for no-show reservations? Doctors charge a similar penalty to patients who are  absent for appointments. So for actors who audition for projects in which all important employment information (dates, salary, contract type, roles/tracks) are publicly announced before the actor accepts the audition appointment and subsequent call-back(s) but then passes on an offer of employ citing dis-interest to any of the pre-published contract details– we begin charging those delusional delinquents for the time of their audition.  As I wrote in an earlier post; that three to seven minutes a producer provides an actor an interview for work (i.e. audition) can add up to hundreds and thousands of dollars per actor (original post: How to Piss-Off a Casting Director (Without Being Seen)).

This passing practice by actors happens far too often for a collective that daily whines about being unemployed. When I hear or read an actor state, “I need work” I’m near to the point of responding, “Bullshit. You don’t want work. You want easy pay direct deposited into your bank account while you  text and Tweet with libel to friends how your life is unfulfilled and no one wants you. Grow-up and stop pretending to be an adult. Make-believe is what you do for work. Reality is accepting responsibilities within your life.”

Thankfully, I remind myself there are actors who seriously want and honestly desire employment within their chosen profession. To those talented professionals; thank you. You make the journey fun and productive.

To those five actors (and others who would similarly be foolhardy in following the thieving thespians’ examples) a reminder is greatly warranted. Below is a prior post “The Cardinal Sin of Auditioning” originally published here June 2009. Time for a refresher course on professionalism.

(As to my naming names…? Each of the disrespectful actors know who they are as much as I hold their identities to tarnished memory. Sadly those names will more than likely never appear again on one of my session sheets. There are just too many of their peers who truly desire employment. Next!)

The Cardinal Sin of Auditioning

This week:  Deceitful Actors Who Falsely Audition

Recently as I was sitting in my partner’s office (the talent agency owner) I overheard one side of a heated phone conversation between one of the agents and a client.

“If you go in for Tara Rubin for this audition, just to be seen, without any intent on accepting an offer for the national tour of Young Frankenstein should it come your way…” was how the conversation began as the agent’s temporal veins began to pulse. I knew where this was going. And it wouldn’t be pretty.

Here was an actor, with solid representation, at a better agency, who’d been given an offer for a job in New York which would conflict with the Young Frankenstein national tour. Because he had an offer on hand which was not finalized on paper, auditioning for other projects is the norm in the industry. What is not the appropriate norm was what he wanted to do. He was telling his agent, someone in the business long before said actor was in diapers, that if he got an offer from the Young Frankenstein audition, he would pass. I.e. flip off the offer and creative team. His sole desire to go in for one of the hottest casting offices in New York was that he wanted to use the audition to remind Tara Rubin that he existed.

W.T.F! Excuse me????!!!!!

As the conversation to my left continued, the agent’s pulsating temples were joined in rhythm by her click-clack tapping of manicured finger nails upon the frosted glass of her desk top. I looked to her boss, my partner. He informed me that the actor on the phone was the same young man who came into an audition for me over a year ago, got an offer from my office and client and then passed. He passed because he never wanted the job. He auditioned only because he had yet to be seen by me. He did THIS to a casting director who also was the life-partner to the agent that represented him! (Can anyone say Gaul? Stupidity? Walking selfish-arrogant-anal opening?!)

My partner and I were both supremely peeved. Despite the actor’s foible of giving what basically was a fictitious audition (because he held no truth to professionalism) this “actor” wasn’t dropped. His punishment to date? I refuse to call him in for anything again. Ever.

Never. Repeat. Never. Ever do you as an actor, a professional, go to an audition knowing that you will not accept an offer should you be so lucky as to receive one. As I wrote extensively on this subject in ACTING: Make It Your Business far too many times do actors and academics of the profession live by or impart unto others the mis-informed, moronic mantra, “You should audition for anything and everything even if you’re not right for a role, not available for, or dis-interested in the project being cast.” If you’re not; interested, right for a role or project available, DO NOT AUDITION! Got it?!

You’re wasting the time, and taking away costly audition slots, of your fellow actors who DO want the job and are appropriate for the role(s) being cast. By being false with your audition intent you’re wasting the valuable time and money of the creative personnel who are seeking performers who want immediate employment. Plus, you’re pissing off your peers and the people who hire. Actors and acting academics who believe in the “audition for anything and everything” fable can argue with me and my casting colleagues, talent reps., producers and directors against our professional opinion until they and their tenured professors enroll for the grave. Fine. But you and they should know this: Participate in the foolish, selfish, unprofessional behavior and an early grave is where your career journey prematurely comes to an end with those you practice upon this folly.

You may be thinking…, “How would the casting people, directors or producers know I was auditioning for a project that I had no intent on taking the job if offered?” Hmmmm. Deceit can not hide forever.

In ACTING: Make It Your Business I wrote of an incident in which one rude, selfish, arrogant, asinine actress who auditioned for one of my projects knew going into the audition studio that she would not take the job if offered. What happened? How I knew? What became of her? And what happened when I ran into her afterward…? Well for those who have read that story… you know. And hopefully you’ve learned from her error.

My Best,
Paul

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He writes a column for Back Stage and is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

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