The more acting auditions you go to the better you will become at the greatest acting you will ever do: acting as if you are the best they will ever see, that you are smashing, that you were born to do this role — all without becoming offensively arrogant. Confidence comes from within. It is a state of being. Do not smear it on like a mud bath. Then it becomes obvious, offensive, foolish, arrogant. Whatever works to build confidence while retaining energy and imagination, use it.
But that trust must be earned. Earn your own trust in yourself through preparation and the hardest things to prepare are internal: your energy, your attitude, your being. Acting is an art that you are born with and can partly polish. But being a VITAL human being, an actor walks into a room of enemies and takes over requires a real change of mindset, attitude, insight, determination, willingness and desire to change. That is the hardest part of an audition. In “real” life you can be shy and retiring. Drop that “real life” self the moment you open the door to the audition room. Stars shine. They do not hide in shy, self-conscious clouds — not while auditioning or performing.
The Difference Between a Stage and Film Audition
Dozens of actors lose roles because they confuse a stage audition with a film audition. “Laid back” usually doesn’t a great stage audition make. (If your character is laid back, then you have a major acting challenge: how to keep energy in a laid back character.) Even on film, that electricity had better be inside you: in the eyes, the face, and, if appropriate, the voice (although the voice is usually more intimate on camera than in a stage audition). This may be heresy to some actors, but I think you can trust a camera more than you can trust a scene partner/reader. You cannot depend on the reader (your scene partner) in an audition. (If you do have a great reader, be sure to whisper ‘thank you’ to them as you leave.)
The Relaxation Myth
Relaxation: Another idol to topple. People go through their warm-up-to-relax exercises. Just once try the opposite: gather every source of energy, blinding light, atomic blast, electricity that you can muster. Walk in with lightning in every cell. (Of course, to do so, you better be really prepared. None of this winging it. Nothing causes more inner chaos than not being thoroughly prepared.) Be prepared and then trust the preparation. Trust the self that acts. Trust the talent and the instincts and the delight we all take in doing something brilliantly.
How can you be unique, fascinating, inventive if you are busy relaxing? Zen is not interesting at an audition (or a performance either). Want to relax? Take a hot bath. Want to enter an audition room dynamically? Drop the relaxation outside the door. I am not suggesting you go in manic. That will terrify the audition table. They will assume — rightly — that you will be too difficult to control during rehearsals. (Remember, I am not talking about your monologue or sides. I am talking about the YOU that enters the room and hands them a picture or says, “Good morning,” or whatever you have prepared to say.) Think of the walk from the door to the table as a mini-drama that shows that mini-audience exactly the persona you want them to see. Confident but not cocky. Fascinating but not weird. Energetic but not nuts. Own the room. Readers who have worked for casting directors all say that they can tell a winner just by the way he enters the room, even before he has opened his mouth. It is an air, a presence, a confidence.
But what about fear? I suspect that excess fear is caused by lack of preparation and by an ego that focuses only on yourself and not on your goal: the goal is to make them gasp (with pleasure). To give them an acting experience they have never had before. HOW? THROUGH IMAGINATIVE, TOTAL YIELDING OF SELF TO TASK AT HAND. Fear? INHIBITION? Are you going to let ANYTHING stop you from your dream, from your goal? Fear is an easy excuse for not going beyond your best. Fear is an easy excuse for failing. “I was too scared.” Are you really going to turn your power over to fear and let that fear stop you from doing what you were born to do?