Hollywood is as much known for big breaks as it is for rejection. From A-listers to fresh faces, every actor has experienced a humbling failed audition that later makes for a side-splitting story. Like the time "Mad Men" siren January Jones auditioned for "Coyote Ugly." Even though Jones came prepared with her lines memorized, she was asked to pole dance sans pole during her audition, to which producer Jerry Bruckheimer said something along the lines of, ‘Honey, you did a great reading, but you’ve got no rhythm" (via The Hollywood Reporter). Yikes.
Or when Jennifer Garner recounted a mortifying event early in her acting experience on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon." A young Garner followed traditional callback wardrobe protocol by wearing the same outfit to four consecutive callbacks that ended up attracting the wrong kind of attention. The casting director told Garner’s agent, "We do want to bring Jennifer back, but does she have any other clothes?" The Golden Globe winner didn’t get the part that day but didn’t let that stop her from becoming one of Hollywood’s most successful celebs. Buckle up for more of the best oops-auditions our favorite stars just want to forget.
Dave Franco decided taking a nap would seal the deal
In "The Disaster Artist," Dave Franco plays Greg Sestero who endures a merry-go-round of emotions once he flubbed a few too many acting auditions. As it turns out, Franco has experience with awkward auditions himself, once even kicking back siesta style. It all took place early on during Franco’s third audition when he misunderstood the casting director’s request to "slate," which is Hollywood lingo for stating your name for the camera to help the higher-ups stay organized. But Franco was unfamiliar with the terminology at the time and thought they asked him to "sleep."
"At the time I didn’t know the terminology," Franco explained to MTV. "So what I hear is, ‘Sleep real quick.’ So, I’m like, alright. So I get comfortable, l put my head back, and I start sleeping for her." Luckily, the mistake didn’t penalize him too badly. "That [casting director] was Allison Jones, who has since cast me in a couple of roles," Franco laughed. "I think I just made a pretty strong impression."
Kevin Hart’s SNL audition included an impersonation of someone that no one knew
From comedy specials to blockbusters, Kevin Hart is one of the world’s highest-earning comedians, according to Forbes. He’s even hosted "Saturday Night Live" on three separate occasions, which must feel something like a full-circle moment. We’ll explain.
Sitting down on TBS’ "Conan," the comic recalled the time he auditioned to be a part of the "SNL" cast, and gave an, um, memorable performance. "This is exactly what my audition was," Hart explained. "I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to do an impression of Avery Johnson.’ And I remember Lorne Michaels looking at me, and he’s like, ‘Mmhmm. Okay…’ He didn’t say he didn’t know who that was, but I could tell he definitely didn’t know." Today, Johnson is a sports analyst, but at the time was a point guard for the San Antonio Spurs and went on to be a coach for the Dallas Mavericks.
As for the impression? It was a one-liner, for which Hart confidently felt he nailed. "And when I did it, I stepped back as if it was undeniably great. "I was like, ‘That’s it.’"
Nicholas Hoult’s best Latin accent echoed more like Borat
For an actor, "putting your time in" means hundreds of failed auditions. Take it from British actor, Nicholas Hoult. "There are hundreds you audition for and give terrible auditions for," Hoult confessed to Entertainment Weekly. "Sometimes I walk out and I’m like, ‘Wow, that was embarrassing.’"
"The Great" actor admitted his worst audition required him to mimic a fictional cat. "One of my all-time worst [auditions] was definitely Prince Caspian. They asked if I could do a Hispanic accent. I was like, ‘What would I base that on?’ They were like, ‘Have you seen Shrek? Puss in Boots.’" Hoult mustered up his best Antonio Banderas performance but fell far from the mark.
"I was doing the scene, but in my head before saying each line, I was trying to do my Antonio Banderas impression, saying ‘I am Prince Caspian!’ It was horrendous," Hoult recalled. "It sounded more like Borat." The part ended up going to fellow Brit actor Ben Barnes, but things turned out great for Hoult, and he went on to star in the "X-Men" series, "Warm Bodies," and "Mad Max: Fury Road."
London-born Robert Pattinson pretended to be American
Speaking of accents, Nicholas Hoult isn’t the first Brit to run into dialect hang-ups. Everyone’s favorite vampire, Robert Pattinson, has a hilariously mortifying incident of his own. The "High Life" star auditioned to be Shia LaBeouf’s amigo in "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," and we can’t for the life of us figure out why he didn’t get the part!
"I thought I was being so funny," Pattinson explained to MTV. "I was saying I was from somewhere in America because I always kept thinking that if you say you’re English then they judge your American accent." Except, the crew already knew Pattinson was Brit-born. "They knew I was English," he explained. "So they were listening to my backstory about being from Denver, and they’re like, ‘What is this guy on?’" Not ideal.
But Pattinson turned the tables on that nightmare situation. "The Batman" actor can laugh it off today and chalks the whole thing up to fate because he was then free to slay his audition as ghastly kook Edward Cullen for the "Twilight" series. To which we say, Amen!
In the spirit of method acting, George Clooney showed up wasted
With the red carpet of resumes, George Clooney has built a reputation as the who’s-who of Hollywood’s leading men. These days, the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award-winner has the credibility that allows him to get away with taking big risks, but it wasn’t always this way. Clooney told E! he once purposely got trashed to get into character for an audition.
"I auditioned for Francis Ford Coppola for ‘Dracula,’ and I was supposed to play a drunk guy, and I got really drunk to do it because I thought that was the best way to do it," Clooney said. "Then Coppola called my agent and said, ‘He was drunk!’ That didn’t work out," Clooney laughed.
But that wasn’t the last time Clooney showed up to work drunk. The "Ocean’s Eleven" star confessed to Variety he had several vodkas with friend and former Casamigos partner (Clooney sold the brand in 2017) Randy Gerber because he thought he had the next day off. "I woke up at five in the morning. I was like, ‘Oh, I’m still drunk,’" he continued. "I got to the set … and I sat down and you ["One Fine Day" co-star Michelle Pfeiffer] looked at me. You go, ‘What?’ And I was like, ‘I didn’t know we were going to work today.’ And you go, ‘You’re still drunk.’" Pfeiffer joked that her co-star smelled like "a brewery," to which Clooney corrected, "like a distillery."
Riz Ahmed continued to send in audition tapes even after he got the part
Getting the part auditioned for is generally enough for an actor to relax and rejoice over a job well done. But that was not the case for Riz Ahmed. After getting the role of Bodhi Rook for "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," Ahmed revealed nearly barraging director Gareth Edwards afterward with different ways Ahmed could portray Rook. "The obsession starts where you start selling like 50,000 takes of something because you’re left to your own devices," Ahmed recounted to Flicks and The City. "Well, I didn’t stop there. I just carried on recording more takes and just emailing him. I was like, ‘Screw it, I’ve got his email address now.’"
What Ahmed didn’t know was that the crew had already liked him for the role of Bohi Rook before his audition. "I loved Riz Ahmed in ‘Nightcrawler,’" said co-producer John Swartz. "And as we were looking for a character for Bodi Rook, we made sure to throw his name in the hat."
After receiving more and more clips from the eager star, Edwards reassured Ahmed he landed the role. "It was like, ‘Okay, any way you’ve got the part,’ and then got like another eight clips saying this or this or this or this." Ahmed admitted later he realized he may have taken things a little far. " Okay, I’ve kind of totally screwed this up now," Ahmed laughed. "I’m like spamming the director."
Hugh Jackman didn’t know what wolverines were
There’s no denying Hugh Jackman was perfectly cast as Wolverine in the "Wolverine" trilogy. But the "X-Men" star admitted that most of that was pure luck, as he hadn’t much prepared for the role because it had already gone to Dougray Scott. However, Scott was caught up in "Mission: Impossible 2," so the studio was interested in having a plan B.
While the entire audition lasted roughly 20 seconds, the Golden Globe Award-winner managed to even poke fun at the wolverine claw with a dramatic hand gesture. "A little more magician than wolverine," Jackman laughed about his nod to the deadly paws on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."
Things didn’t exactly go any more smoothly when the "Bad Education" actor started developing his most popular character. Jackman confessed to MTV News that he didn’t know wolverines were a thing, so he began studying the physical movement of wolves. But he quickly realized "X-Men" director, Bryan Singer, was not a fan, telling Jackman, "It’s a little weird physically, But it’s interesting." When Jackman explained that he’d been studying wolves for the role, Singer dropped some knowledge. "You’re not a wolf, man, you’re a wolverine!" Jackman recounted the conversation. "I said, ‘Well, there’s obviously no wolverine.’ And he said, ‘No, that’s actually an animal. It’s small, and there’s really no point in studying its movements — it’s a more metaphoric idea,’" Jackman explained. "I’ve never been more humiliated in my life."
Keira Knightly’s Skype audition froze at the worst moment
Perhaps the most cringe-worthy aspect of being an actor is performing, um, erotic scenes on camera or in front of an audience. Given the level of difficulty, it would make sense that directors would want to see an actor’s take during auditions. Enter, Keira Knightley, and her most awkward audition to date.
During an interview on The Graham Norton Show, "The Pirates of the Caribbean" actor admitted she was supposed to deliver her most "horrible" sex faces during her audition for "Dangerous Methods," wait for it, over a Skype call. Knightley said it was all going rather well until Skype froze. "I had to a lot of weird sex faces," she explained. "I had to go on Skype with [director] David Cronenberg so that he could see what my planned weird sex faces were … they were meant to be horrible sex faces, but Skype froze," Knightley added. "It’s awful on every level because I’d never met him before. So to say, ‘Hello nice to meet you,’ and then all of a sudden have to go, ‘So hey, what are your sex faces?’ which I’d been practicing in the mirror just before, [it was] just a weird thing to do."
Needless to say, all that mirror practicing got Knightley the part and her collection of awkward sex faces are now forever documented for the world to enjoy. Bless.
Even Captain America gets starstruck
"The Avengers" mainstay, Chris Evans, is allegedly immune to the undeniable star-power Hollywood has to offer. "I don’t get starstruck," Evans told Backstage. "I’m fine." But Evans’ kryptonite was revealed when he ended up face-to-face with none other than iconic A-lister Ben Affleck. Before Evans’ "Gone Baby Gone" audition with Affleck, he recalled his inner conversation as relaxed. "Especially Ben — he’s a Boston guy, I should be fine."
However, Evans admitted the meeting didn’t go quite as planned. "For some reason I instantly was nervous. I went in and shook his hand, and the first thing I said was ‘Hey, how ya’ doing? Am I gonna be okay where I parked?’ And he said, ‘Where’d you park?’ And I said, ‘At one of the meters.’ And he said, ‘Did you put money in it?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ And he said, ‘I think you’ll be alright.’"
That was the beginning of the end for Evans. "From that moment, I just wanted to get the f*** out of the room … I sat down with my heart beating out of my chest; I was so mortified that I started this meeting off that way." The "Fantastic Four" star was then guided to sit in a rocking chair where his nerves had fully engulfed him, answering all questions directed at him with the limited vocabulary of "Good." As he recalled, "It was horrible, a complete disaster. So obviously, I did not get that job."
A stand-in robot gave Tom Holland the giggles
Uncontrollable laughter is generally a joyous experience surrounded by friends and good times. Tom Holland, however, is here to remind us it can also be a curse. The "Spider-Man: Homecoming" star told Backstage he completely flubbed an audition over a hilarious droid impersonation from a woman in the scene he was reading for.
"I was like four or five auditions in," Holland said. "I remember doing this scene with this lady, bless her, and she was just a drone. So I was doing all of this, like, ‘We gotta get back to the ship!’ And she was going, ‘Bleep, bloop bloop, bleep bloop.’ I just couldn’t stop laughing. I found it so funny." Holland admitted to feeling bad about breaking in the middle of the scene because the stand-in was giving it her all to be convincing. "I obviously didn’t get the part," he said. "That wasn’t my best moment."
Holland was understandably upset after botching such an opportunity, thinking it was going to be a huge career stepping stone. But papa Holland stepped in to drop some knowledge. "He’s had to deal with rejection his entire life in his career, and he was really kind and said, ‘Son, that’s part of success. If you won every single time, winning would become losing’ … You need to lose so that the win feels like a win."
Kathryn Hahn went full Carrot Top with a bag of props
With Hollywood’s vast garden of stars, auditions are an actor’s chance to stand out. Although "Bad Moms" star, actor Kathryn Hahn, learned the hard way that an entertainer can stand out in a bad way, as well. Hahn said her most hilarious audition miss involved a handful of props. "That was a heartbreaker," Hahn told NPR. "It was for ‘A Serious Man’… and I was way gung-ho … I brought in a bag of props. It was too much. It was just way too much for the space, and they were very polite and very kind. And I did not get the part."
But that wasn’t Hahn’s only failed audition. The "Parks and Recreation" star revealed she also severely embarrassed herself in front of controversial filmmaker Woody Allen. "That was just awful, horrible," Hahn admitted. "I remember someone telling me that he wasn’t going to look up and laugh … And not only did he not laugh, but he looked up when I just botched a joke so badly. It was awful."
In the end, it would seem that Hahn got the last laugh as her remarkable career spans iconic roles and has even landed her an Emmy nomination for her work in "Transparent."
Bradley Cooper auditioned as Batman for The Green Lantern
You don’t have to be a Comic-Con regular to love Batman. Just ask "The Hangover" star, Bradley Cooper. When he went in to give his take on the "Green Lantern", Cooper ended up channeling Batman, which he confessed came off more like a "Saturday Night Live" skit than a respectable performance.
"I couldn’t not do Christian Bale’s Batman when I was doing the audition," Cooper explained to MTV. "I don’t know what it was! I put a mask on and the director was like, ‘OK Bradley, be regular and talk’. "And I was like, ‘Yeah, got it… [in Cooper’s best Batman inflection] Listen, Sally, we’re going to have to take your family away if you don’t listen to me!’"
If that wasn’t bad enough, Cooper got to suffer through his laughable rendition a second time after watching it on the monitor. "At one point, I actually walked back and saw it, because they have it on the monitor while you’re auditioning," he explained. "I saw a little clip as they were rewinding it, and … I was like, ‘Oh, I’m not getting this!"
Dakota Johnson went ahead and took her shirt off
Acting is about conveying emotion. "Get lost in the scene," they say. Well, "Fifty Shades of Grey" actor Dakota Johnson doesn’t hesitate to give it her all — shirt included. "I got really into it, got really into the scene, and it was really dramatic, and I took my shirt off, and then [was told] ‘you didn’t have to do that,’" she blushed to The Hollywood Reporter. But the humbling moment was not over, as Johnson had to stay put and endure a conversation with her confused audience afterward.
"And I was like, ‘Thank you,’ and had to pick my shirt up off the floor and still talk to them and put it back on. Inappropriate, and also still embarrassing, and I’m more embarrassed that I just told that story," she added. While Johnson didn’t give any hints about what audition her stripping fiasco took place in, she admitted to not getting the part. It’s fair to say everything worked out well for Johnson, who went on to star in "How To Be Single," "The Peanut Butter Falcon," and "The High Note," rounding out her net worth to a cool $14 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
Mahershala Ali just needed a chair
Mahershala Ali caught everyone’s attention after his Oscar Award-winning performance in "Moonlight." But Ali fully admitted to botching auditions, specifically for "Game of Thrones." Ali recounted his failed attempt for the role of a merchant on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" as, "one of the worst auditions of my life."
Ali explained that he’d experienced two prior auditions with the same casting director, both of which turned out a little "wonky." So Ali made sure to prepare extra well this time around. Turns out all he needed to succeed was a proper chair. "I had all my lines memorized and had this whole thing worked out with this chair. I was working and doing all these power moves and stances and whatnot, and had my stuff all worked out."
But apparently, Ali’s posture sat a little rigid for the casting director’s liking. "I’m sitting there, feet halfway off the ground, a little bit stiff during the audition, and then she goes, ‘Wow, you got to loosen that up. That was really stiff. That was a problem.’ It was because I didn’t have a back to my chair." Kimmel offered some wise words, "Bring a chair with you next time."