Have you ever wondered what some of Hollywood’s biggest names looked like before they landed their biggest (or at least, one of their biggest) roles? In what should offer us mere mortals some semblance of comfort, they too had to suffer what is the equivalent of when our bosses make us role play in front of our colleagues: the actor’s audition process. Yep, before our favourite stars appeared picture-perfect on the big screen, they had to dress like really normal people, and dutifully recite lines hoping that they would nab the part and become a household name; and almost all of these ten did exactly that. From Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad, to Rachel McAdams making the room cry in The Notebook, we ‘ve rounded up the best audition tapes we could find. Sometimes they are mortifyingly awkward, but they are always viewing gold.
Scroll down for 10 of our favourites:
Kate Winslet for Titanic
Winslet was just 18 when she auditioned for the role that would launch her career, and even in the first screen test, she was phenomenal. We also get a moment to imagine what the film would have been like without Leo DiCaprio – not worth thinking about.
Daniel Radcliffe for Harry Potter
Here, a wide-eyed innocent, very well-spoken Daniel Radcliffe runs lines with the director of The Philosopher’s Stone Chris Columbus, and you can almost see the exact moment when Chris surely realised that Daniel would be the chosen one, much like Harry in the story, as he reads an excerpt from The Prisoner of Azkaban. He puts on those glasses, and the rest is history.
Rachel McAdams for The Notebook
She made us all cry in the movie, and according to the director, McAdams made everyone in the audition room shed a few tears after her spot-on, weepy rendition of a key scene in the film. And yes, that’s Ryan Gosling’s voice in the background.
Aaron Paul for Breaking Bad
Did you know that before Jesse became the most beloved character on Breaking Bad, he was set to be written out of the show by the end of the first season? Thank the Lord such a notion never came to pass. Even from the early days, Paul’s complex, hugely likeable portrayal of Jesse was all there.
Natalie Portman for Leon: The Professional
Even at 13, Portman had the makings of a star. Leon was her first film, and it was she who almost stole the show even with Gary Oldman as the villain.
Henry Thomas for E.T.
This kid. Barely ten years old, actor Henry Thomas’ audition for the role of Elliott Taylor is magical. Tears welling in his eyes, the young actor pleads that his extraterrestrial friend not be taken away by the government. If this doesn’t make you emotional, consider getting help. And the best bit? In the final seconds of the audition tape, Steven Spielberg can be heard off camera saying the immortal words: “OK kid, you got the job.”
Steve Carrell for Anchorman
Steve Carell’s first go at inept weatherman Brick Tamland is positively hilarious; in the two-minute clip, he turns tomato red during this skit with Will Ferrell.
Scarlett Johansson for Jumanji
Even at 11, Johansson was too-cool-for-school and more than a little awkward. She didn’t land the role. Instead, it went to Kirstin Dunst who became a household name after appearing in Interview with the Vampire
Carrie Fisher for Star Wars
It’s hard to imagine anyone else in this iconic role.
Gerard Butler for Dracula 2001