So this is the life I’ve chosen for myself. The life of rejection known as acting. I really have to find a way to deal with it better. It’s been quite a roller coaster lately. On the upside, I signed with a talent agent who hopefully will get me lots of professional paid work once I get all my materials sorted out and sent to them. Then there’s these two stories of woe…

Many months ago I auditioned for a movie. I went in and felt I did a pretty good job. The director and producer seemed genuinely thrilled and complimented my choices. There was much glowing praise. I was called back to audition with some other potential actors and we shuffled around reading various roles. Since the director was also going to play the main villain, he had me read it just so someone would be doing it and he could watch. Again, I felt I performed strong. Later, I found out that I had not been cast in any of the major roles but the director said he really liked my energy and talent and definitely wanted to use me somewhere. Later, I saw a call for crew members for the same movie so I put my resume in for Assistant Director. The director called me back and told me to come to a meeting where we could talk about the A.D. position and also he wanted me to read for another role. Some more time passed and the next time I spoke with him, he wanted me to read one more time for the smaller role to see if I could dial it down a little and not be so over the top and theatrical. The fact that the A.D position wasn’t brought up gave me my silent answer on that front.
I went back for my second one-on-one reading with the director where we went through the scene a few times and he gave me some direction. The end result was that I didn’t really feel he got what he wanted from me but he said he definitely wanted to use me somewhere somehow in the cast and on the crew if I so desired. I told him I would have to get back to him after I heard back from another movie about a lead role I was up for, which leads us to story number 2…
I had seen an audition notice for a suspense/horror film filming in the area and the roles were actually paid! I submitted my information and was given an audition time. I was up for one of the lead roles as a character who turned out to be the sick, twisted villain. This could be fun! I memorized my scenes and went into my first audition fairly confident. Never before have I had an audition that seemed to go so well and I probably never will again. Usually the people auditioning you play things pretty neutral. They may say something like “Great job! We’ll be in touch,” but that’s usually about the extent of it. During this audition, the director and casting agent seemed genuinely floored by my performance. After two scenes, I asked if they wanted to see the other two scenes that I had received and prepared to which the answer was an enthusiastic “Yes! I want to see it all! I want to see the whole movie now!”
After my audition we chatted for a long time during which they told me things like “You are by far the best person we have seen today. You have made my day!” and “I don’t want to breathe while I’m watching you because I’m so wrapped up in the scene!” The part was supposed to be between 30-40 years old and when they asked me my age, they could not believe I was 36*. They asked if I had any gray in my hair or beard. I told them I had very little in my (now dyed jet black) hair, but a good amount in my beard. They told me to stop dyeing my hair and start growing my beard. All in all it was the most ebullient, glowing, openly complimentary audition any actor could ever hope for. I walked out of there feeling like a star, like I had just totally blown away the room.
I had also convinced Larry to audition for another role. We both received callbacks to come for a second audition last night. Larry and I both had some decent competition, but I felt we had both still given the best performances for our respective roles. I was a bit more nervous and shaky on the inside but still gave what I thought was a great performance. Last night, around midnight, Larry received a call telling him that it was between him and one other guy and so they wanted them to both come back today. I never received a call. Larry went through another grueling 5 hours of chatting, interviewing, auditioning and waiting, during which he learned the unfortunate news that I had not been cast. The only good thing is that later this afternoon, he got the call that he had the part. Sadly, I haven’t been able to give this news the proper celebration because I’ve been feeling like I was punched in the gut ever since I learned my fate. The guy they chose is completely different from me physically, so I’m guessing (hoping) that it was just more in line with the director’s view of the character (although the initial character description was closer to me than the other guy I think).
At least I’m free to work on Movie #1 in whatever role or capacity they see fit. It’s somewhat of a consolation since I really like the project but it’s also bittersweet since I’ve effectively been rejected three times on that project (lead cast, Assistant Director and the smaller role).
How do you learn to deal with this better? Acting is a vast majority of rejection. I’ve had my share in the past and it wasn’t this bad but I guess I really wanted this role. It was a lead in a paid movie and I felt I had given a great performance. I had been lavished with praise and accolades. I guess all of this and just the fact that I had been one of a final four guys to be considered made this one harder. Rejection after on audition is easier but the further you get into the process, the harder it is to just let go.
So now I sit, pretty damn bummed, unable to be as joyous as I should be for my friend’s good fortune. This is the career I’ve chosen, and I’m pretty sure it’s only going to get harder. I’ve got to learn to deal better. I can’t mourn every lost role since that will probably be the majority of them. Now if I could just figure out the secret of how let go, how to become immune to rejection and not let it bring you down. That would be something.
*The exact same thing happened when I auditioned for my agent. While discussing a potential movie he said there were no parts for my age group since they were all at least 30-35 years old. I said “You don’t think I could play 35?”
He said “No, I don’t think you look 35.”
“I’m 36,” I said. He was surprised and asked the rest of the class. While they all agreed that I certainly didn’t look that old, they thought that I could probably believably play that age range.


6 Responses

  1. Jess says:

    I love you!
    You just have to keep remembering (as you already know) that it can be any stupid thing that leads to a rejection. You have a different nose than they imagined for their sick villain, or whatever. It’s hard not to take it personally, because it FEELS so personal.

  2. Athena says:

    Its the nose…definatly the nose.
    Or the chin! That’s it the Chin!
    We love you Heath 🙂 All I can say is just keep truckin. After years of theatre I don’t think I ever learned to completely shrug it off. At least you didn’t get fired from a role you already had and felt like you lived for. I did once and that was probably the most pain the theatre ever put me through.
    Thats me trying to help in the “it could have been worse” sort of way. I hope it helps 🙂

  3. Eileen says:

    I’m really sorry. It sounds like you’ve had a pretty rough time of it lately. I’ll keep my fingers crossed, though, that some good comes of this other movie project.

  4. Jupe says:

    Man, being an actor totally sucks. If it wasn’t the only thing I wanted to do, I would probably stop doing it.
    That’s rough, dude. I mean, there are a lot of things I could tell you about handling rejection (I think I’m actually pretty adept at it) but I don’t know if they’d work for this sort of situation. I’ve dealt with a couple like this. “Well why did you fall all over yourself about me if you were just going to stop calling??” I don’t think there’s any way to make that better.
    On the other hand, WHOOOO!! about signing with the agency! That, seriously, rocks ten times. This is very cool, and I think this will mean very good things.

  5. Lars says:

    It hurts so much more when its a part you really want and think you’re well suited for. You know that the director and casting director loved your performance, but in the end I think it came down to aesthetics. These people don’t know what they want; they say that performance is what they’re looking for, but I just spent three hours rehearsing with a guy you could act circles around. He has a more weathered look and is a bit more physically imposing than you, but he is not what I would call “handsome”, as the script suggests, which further illustrates the inconsistencies of the decision makers. I would personally rather not know why I didn’t get the part I had my heart set on. I can’t tell you how many times in college I owned an audition, and saw the positive reactions from everyone in the room, and went on the callbacks only to have the director say, “Larry, I’d love to see you in this part, but a 5’6″ man just doesn’t look like a man when he’s on stage.” That shit gets old. It was a constant nag in the back of my mind saying, “don’t get too attached to this one you know they’re just going to give you ‘Stable boy’ or ‘Young onlooker'”. It doesn’t hurt a salesman anywhere but in the wallet when he comes home with a full case, but that’s because he’s selling wrist watches or protein bars, not himself. All I’m saying is that I TOTALLY get it, and I think it’s kind of like forming a callus. The only way to get better at being turned down for a role is to go to more auditions and be turned down for more roles, until finally someone with some actual talent recognizes the same thing in you. That, and to always know in your heart that your better than everyone else;)

  6. Simon says:

    Aww, man, I’m sorry. But inroads have been made, right?
    Here’s hoping for better luck in the future.

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