As you might know, all celebrities are put through auditions prior to being considered for a film or a TV show. Only a rare few (usually the highly sought after ones) are personally handpicked for their roles, effectively bypassing the preliminary rounds of selection. The Hollywood stars you know today each went through a lengthy casting process before being given the opportunity to play iconic characters or before landing their breakthrough roles. Many have gone on to win awards after.
Of course, not all who have auditioned got the intended roles. For example, Jessica Alba lost out to Anna Hathaway for Get Smart and Scarlett Johansson didn’t do as well as Kirsten Dunst for Jumaji. But what were the auditions like for the ones that made it, you ask?
We’re featuring some previously unseen auditions for some of the world’s most well-known celebrities who have acted in blockbuster flicks such as Hugh Jackman in “X-Men” and “Wolverine”, and Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. There are also videos of Miley Cyrus (for Disney’s Hannah Montana), Selena Gomez (for Wizard of Waverly Place), Blake Lively (for Gossip Girl), Megan Fox (for Transformers), and more.
Check ’em out:
1. Miley Cyrus (for Disney’s Hannah Montana)
At age 11, Miley Cyrus learned of the casting for what became Hannah Montana, a Disney Channel children’s television series about a schoolgirl with a secret double life as a teen pop star. She sent in a tape auditioning for its best friend role, but received a call asking her to audition for the lead, Chloe Stewart. After sending in a new tape and flying to Hollywood for further auditions, she was told that she was too young and too small for the part. However, the series’ producers invited her for further auditions in light of her persistence and her singing and acting abilities. The following year, Miley Cyrus received the lead position, renamed Miley Stewart after herself. Hannah Montana premiered in 2006, to the largest audience for a Disney Channel program, and quickly ranked among the highest-rated series on basic cable, elevating her wealth and fame. Its instant success helped propel Miley Cyrus to teen idol status.
2. Hugh Jackman (for Wolverine in X-Men)
In 1999, Hugh Jackman was cast as Wolverine in Bryan Singer’s X-Men, replacing Dougray Scott. But according to him, Wolverine was tough to portray because not only was he an entire foot taller than Wolverine’s actual height, he only had few lines, but a lot of emotion to convey in them. To prepare, he watched Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry movies and Mel Gibson in Road Warrior. “Here were guys who had relatively little dialogue, like Wolverine had, but you knew and felt everything. I’m not normally one to copy, but I wanted to see how these guys achieved it,” he said. Hugh Jackman also had to get used to wearing Wolverine’s claws, “Every day in my living room, I’d just walk around with those claws, to get used to them. I’ve got scars on one leg, punctures straight through the cheek, on my forehead. I’m a bit clumsy. I’m lucky I didn’t tell them that when I auditioned.”
3. Emma Stone (for Easy A)
It’s a little known fact that Emma Stone originally auditioned to star in the NBC’s Heroes as Claire Bennet. She overheard in the casting room, “On a scale of 1 to 10, you are an 11” – but the casting directors were referring to Hayden Panettiere, who was cast instead. Emma called that experience “rock bottom”, and never forgot how it felt. In 2010, she read the script for Easy A before the project was optioned for production, and kept an eye on it along with her manager until preparations were made. When she discovered that the film had gone into production, she met with Gluck to express her enthusiasm about the project. A few months later, the audition process started and Emma met with Gluck again to be one of the first actresses to audition. She was later nominated for the 2011 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for her role as Olive Penderghast.
4. Blake Lively (for Gossip Girl)
Blake Lively was already popular before her Serena van der Woodsen role in teen drama Gossip Girl. We say this because she landed a major role in the 2005 blockbuster “chick flick” The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, which earned her a Teen Choice Award nomination for Breakout Movie Star. But when it came to Gossip Girl, she still had to audition like everyone else. In 2006, Blake was cast as Serena van der Woodsen, which premiered in September 2007. She played Serena van der Woodsen in the teen drama until 2012 when the show ended. As you can see in the below video, the moment she auditioned, boom, she totally disappeared into that character. Very on point.
5. Megan Fox (for Transformers)
In 2007, Megan Fox won the lead female role of Mikaela Banes in the 2007 live-action film Transformers, based on the toy and cartoon saga of the same name. She played the love interest of Shia LaBeouf’s character Sam Witwicky and was later nominated for an MTV Movie Award in the category of “Breakthrough Performance”. She was also nominated for 3 Teen Choice Awards. While those achievements were great, her audition process wasn’t easy. Word has it that Transformers director Michael Bay had Megan Fox wash his (unspecified) Ferrari at his home as part of her audition for her role in the first Transformers movie. And since he was doing “official” auditions, he apparently recorded every minute of it. Strange.
6. Robert Downey Jr. (for Iron Man)
Believe it or not, Robert Downey Jr. almost didn’t make it as an A-list Hollywood star! From 1996 – 2001, he was arrested numerous times for cocaine, heroin and marijuana, and went several times through drug treatment programs unsuccessfully. After being released in 2000 from the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison, he joined the cast of the TV series Ally McBeal. However, his character was written out when he was fired after 2 more drug arrests. After one last stay in a court-ordered drug treatment program, he finally achieved sobriety. In 2007, he was cast as Iron Man, with director Jon Favreau stating, “Downey wasn’t the most obvious choice, but he understood what makes the character tick. He found a lot of his own life experience in ‘Tony Stark’.” Favreau insisted on having Robert Downey Jr. as he repeatedly claimed that he would be to Iron Man what Johnny Depp is to the Pirates of the Caribbean series, a lead actor that could both elevate the quality of the film and increase the public’s interest in it.
7. Rachel McAdams (for The Notebook)
Rachel McAdams’ breakout role came in 2004, when she co-starred in the comedy film Mean Girls opposite Lindsay Lohan. She was 25 years old at the time she was cast as Regina George, the frenemy of Lohan’s character Cady Heron and the mean and popular queen bee in the school. But that wasn’t the role she was most remembered for. She had auditioned for a role in the romantic drama The Notebook, directed by Nick Cassavetes and based on Nicholas Sparks’ novel of the same name. Starring opposite Ryan Gosling, she played Allie Hamilton. It was said that Rachel McAdams spent time in Charleston, South Carolina prior to filming to familiarise herself with the southern accent she used, and took ballet and etiquette classes. However, a lot of Allie could already be seen in Rachel McAdam’s audition tape for the role.
8. Hugh Laurie (for House MD)
Prior to House, Hugh Laurie had already made a name for himself via a range of British TV dramas. His fame expended to US in 2004, when he cinched the role of acerbic physician specialising in diagnostic medicine, the grouchy and sarcastic but extremely witty Dr. Gregory House. He was in Namibia filming Flight of the Phoenix and recorded the audition tape for the show in the bathroom of the hotel, the only place he could get enough light. Laurie’s American accent was so convincing that executive producer Bryan Singer, who was unaware at the time that Laurie is British, pointed to him as an example of just the kind of compelling American actor he had been looking for. Hugh Laurie went on to play House from 2004 to 2012, for which he received 2 Golden Globe awards, 2 Screen Actors Guild awards, and 6 Emmy nominations. He was listed in the 2011 Guinness World Records as the most watched leading man on TV and was one of the highest-paid actors in a TV drama, earning £250,000 (USD409,000) per episode in House.
9. Selena Gomez (for Wizards of Waverly Place)
Contrary to popular belief, Wizards of Waverly Place wasn’t Selena Gomez‘s first TV show. In the early 2000s, Selena auditioned for Barney and Friends. She was then selected to appear as the recurring character Gianna, but only for a total of 16 episodes. She later stated that her age had led to her departure from the show, with producers feeling she was getting too old. Luckily, she cinched a role in the Disney Channel series Wizards of Waverly Place, portraying the lead role of Alex Russo. Her character, along with the rest of her family, were wizards who owned a restaurant in New York; during the course of the series, the characters learned various spells and abilities that were useful to them. The series proved to be an immediate hit, giving Selena Gomez mainstream success and earned her numerous awards and nominations.
10. Robert De Niro (for The Godfather)
Believe it or not, Robert De Niro was actually turned down in the below audition video. He initially had his eyes set on the part of Sonny in The Godfather and as you can see from the video, he definitely had the wardrobe down pat but perhaps he came off a little bit too confident to play the part of an unpolished mobster. Needless to say, he lost the role to James Caan. But despite the setback, he was cast instead as young Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II, a role for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Funny how things worked out for him because today, he’s an A-list actor and film producer, who has starred in over 90 films. Here’s a young Robert De Niro, barely 30 years old, twirling around during his audition.
Which one of the above celebs do you think had the best audition tape? Were the roles that they were given after the casting process justified?
Sound off in the comments box below!