In the classic online scene from Entourage, the character Johnny Drama played by Kevin Dillon in his ‘audition’ for CSI that “Just tell me what you want. Because I can do it a million ways”
What do you want? Tell me what to do, what to play, what emotion to give and I will gladly give it to you.
Actors say this to me in the audition space all the time. As if the casting director knows the exact emotion or moment to deliver.
All creative art will always be a subjective pursuit.
So it is with acting. And even more so with auditions. Because we are yet to set the character in concrete.
Think of it this way. You pick up the phone and ring your telecommunications provider. Or your bank. You are outraged. They have not provided a promised service. You plan how you are going to deal with them. You are going to be so angry. You know exactly what you are going to say.
But when you arrive at that moment, your feelings, your attitude, your relationship with them has evolved because of all the things that have gone before it. Your emotional journey and your relationship with the call center person has progressed.
If you are able to name exactly how a character feels at a given time (and this is a time is in the future, even 10 seconds in the future) the moment is fake.
The key to audition success is to be brave. Discover your character’s feelings at any time in the script ….. when you arrive at the moment.
Oh yes, it is truly scary. You can plan where you would possibly like to take your character, but the exact emotion, the exact delivery, needs to be flexible. You may be saying the dialogue accurately, but you are improvising the character. Improvising the relationship.
Does Jim Carrey plot and plan what will happen? Will Smith? Kristen Wiig. Johnny Depp?
Of course not. This is the essence of true screen performance
To decide a character’s feeling in advance, during your audition prep, is not a screen actors approach.
Focus on the journey, and the destination will take care of itself.