Life’s great if you’re Brad Pitt: you sit back in your lush leather chair in your giant mansion, waiting for your agent to call and offer you another multi-million-dollar franchise. But not all actors have the luxury of choice – some have to hustle like you wouldn’t believe to land the parts they want. Sometimes that takes the form of lengthy meetings and contract negotiations. But other times, actors have to go above and beyond…
Megan Fox – ‘Transformers’ (2007)
I’m sure we’re all aware of the ‘casting couch’ and the despicable things some directors have aspiring young starlets do to land big movie roles, but Michael Bay doesn’t roll like that – he’d rather be more practical. When Megan Fox auditioned for the first ‘Transformers’ movie, she was told Bay wanted her to wash his Ferrari… while he filmed her. It sounds pretty seedy – but the fact is, nobody bends over a car’s hood quite like Megan Fox and the image of mechanic Mikaela tinkering under Bumblebee’s bonnet became an iconic image forever associated with the franchise.
TJ Miller – ‘Yogi Bear’ (2010)
So keen was comedian and ‘Yogi Bear’ fan TJ Miller to land a part in the live-action movie, he filmed an audition tape with the help of a friend in which he ran his lines with an actual bear.
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The short video shows Miller standing just feet away from the gigantic grizzly, acting out scenes with or without the bear’s help (“You’re not taking this seriously,” he hisses. “You’re not helping me get the job!”). Miller sent the video off to Warner Bros. and they must have been impressed, because he landed a role in the film after the vid went viral.
Benedict Cumberbatch – ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ (2013)
Cumberbatch was blowing up in a big way when JJ Abrams was looking to cast the villain for his ‘Star Trek’ sequel, but the actor was unable to fly to LA to audition because he was in Britain and it was Christmas. So he improvised.
Cumberbatch shot a few short audition scenes in his friend’s kitchen using his iPhone, with just one working light in the room and a baby asleep in the background. Cumberbatch’s quiet menace is clearly palpable via any medium, because Abrams liked what he saw and Benedict booked the gig.
Taylor Lautner – The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)
Though cheeky human chipmunk Taylor Lautner did play the role of Jacob in the first ‘Twilight’ movie, the role was significantly expanded in the second book and the actor, just a 16-year-old weakling, was not expected to reprise his role for ‘New Moon’. Producers, however, didn’t count on Lautner smashing it for six months solid and putting on 26 pounds of pure muscle, emerging from the gym a gleaming, shirtless werewolf-in-waiting. Faced with abs of such magnitude, the filmmakers had no choice but to put them – and Taylor – in the movie.
Shia LaBeouf – ‘Nymphomaniac’ (2014)
Desperate to appear in credible indie movies after the ‘Transformers’ franchise made him a household name, Shia LaBeouf had an unusual way of catching director Lars von Trier’s attention.
With an aim to getting cast in his forthcoming sexual odyssey ‘Nymphomaniac’, LaBeouf send von Trier images of his own genitalia. It’s not the kind of tactic that’ll pay off if you’re trying to get hired for the new Steven Spielberg movie, but it worked on Lars von Trier and LaBeouf got to flash his junk on-screen for posterity. Thanks, guys. Thanks.
Clare Woodgate – ‘An Awfully Big Adventure’ (1995)
We’ll bet several actors wish they could go back for a second audition after blowing it the first time, but 17-year-old Clare Woodgate did more than just wish – she died her hair red, constructed a fake identity and applied for another audition for Hugh Grant’s theatre movie under the name Georgina Cates. Proving that casting directors don’t really pay much attention to anything, ‘Cates’ landed the part of Stella, meaning that she had to permanently adopt the Liverpudlian accent she’d put on for the audition. Though she eventually came clean, the name Georgina Cates stuck.
Madonna – Evita (1996)
Given that her last big film role was limp erotic thriller ‘Body Of Evidence’, it was understandable that Madonna would want to go the extra mile to land the part of Eva Perón in Alan Parker’s big-screen musical. Madge, ever the drama queen, wrote Parker a handwritten letter in which she pleaded for the role, claiming she was possessed by the spirit of Perón, the Argentinan first lady, and thus was perfect for the film.
She also sent Parker her 40s-styled pop video for ‘Take A Bow’ to give an idea of how she’d look in the part. Maybe it was this gesture that got her the part, maybe it was her talent… or maybe it was those photographs from her ‘Sex’ book she slipped in the envelope.
Christian Bale – American Psycho (2000)
Pre-Batman Christian Bale had to pull out all the stops to grab the attention of casting agents, especially when he kept coming up against his nemesis Leonardo DiCaprio, who took the lead role in ‘Titanic’ out from under his nose. When DiCaprio was poised to swoop in and play Patrick Bateman, Bale played hardball: he packed on pounds of muscle, began Bateman’s actual skincare routine as described in the movie, adopted a US accent and even answered his phone as Patrick Bateman. DiCaprio eventually quit to go to ‘The Beach’ so Bale got the killer role all to himself.
Photos: Rex/Moviestore/BDG/Summit Entertainment