Like they always say, auditions are pretty much like job interviews. You screen the actors who are interested in joining your production to know whether they are worth investing in. Get a problematic talent in, and you’ll encounter significant problems on set that could’ve been avoided if only you asked them the right questions during the casting process. There’s a reason why skill is not the only criterion casting directors should be on the lookout for. Before you learn this the hard way, here is a list of possible questions you can ask auditionees to know them at least professionally when they audition for a role.
Possible Questions Casting Directors Should Ask Actors During Auditions
When did you first perform?
This question tells you how long they’ve been in the community and allows you to weigh their experience and the effects it has on their attitude, industry knowledge, reputation, and accomplishments. Is this actor a newbie? A low-key veteran? What do their projects say about them and the span of time since they performed professionally? Is this actor a prodigy? Are there red flags you should be warned about? Should you do a background check?
What have you been working on?
To gauge their dedication, you have to know if the actor is currently working on something. Maybe they’re in a play. Maybe they just finished a student film. At the very least, actors should be auditioning and submitting themselves for projects. It’s rather skeptical when an actor does nothing for no reason (not auditioning, not submitting, not acting, not taking class). Maybe it’s been a while since they’ve had a job, but an actor committed to the career should actively look for events, opportunities, and classes to keep their skills sharp and to stay connected to the community. Whether they’ve just done a mailing, updated their website, or finished editing their reel, staying active shows you that they’re serious about their career. If they haven’t found work in a while, what initiative did they take as an actor?
What is your biggest accomplishment to date?
The producer might need to know this information. Do you have an award-winning actor in the room? Based on their years of experience, is the accomplishment commendable? Some actors get their big break on their first role. Some work hard to get a well-deserved nomination. Knowing an actor’s major achievements in the field will set proper production expectations and determine which demands the actor may be new to.
What types of projects are you looking to work on?
For this question, ask the actor to specify. Are they looking to work in TV, film, theater, industrials, commercials, music videos, or web series? Are they hoping to work in musicals, black comedies, soap operas, pharmaceutical videos, full budget features, or unpaid student films? It’s important to know their focus, comfort zone, and challenges.
What types of roles do you see yourself being cast in?
Most actors don’t want to be typecast into a particular role, but it’s also important to know one’s strengths and check if they’re handling new challenges well. Having a clear sense of the actor’s identity, style, and type is always a great start. Their answers allow you to know if they’re comfortable with being asked to show versatility or if they’d rather stay being cast according to their type. If they actually do a good job in the project, you can then recommend them to auditions that suit them.
How would you describe your acting style?
This question tells a lot about the actor’s education. For example, an answer like “comedic” or “dramatic” isn’t helpful. Check whether they know the established teachers of acting techniques like Meisner, Stanislavsky, Adler, Strasberg, and Chekhov. Does this actor prefer to work organically, or do they prefer to do heavy research to prepare for the character and what lies ahead? Are they the type of actor who needs a lot of direction, or do they prefer to be given time to internalize? Do you need a heads-up in case they are a method actor? This helps you grow your database of talents and match them with other actors and future directors.
What is the hardest role you’ve played, and how did you handle it?
Listen to what this actor finds challenging and assess how they handle stressful situations. Do they drag the team down? Do they handle problems healthily? What do they consider to be their limitations when playing roles? Did they bounce back from the problem and learn from the experience? Does the lesson have any relevance to the project at hand? How did their performance for the role turn out in the end? Does their answer worry you? Based on the personality you see and the nature of the current project, will they have improved by then on this weakness?
Which actor do you admire the most and why?
Many actors hesitate with this question, which is okay. Knowing an actor’s role model allows you to judge their taste, knowledge of the industry, and their ability to look at acting with a critical eye. If they can’t come up with a reputable name, do they really care about keeping up with the industry? If they can’t explain why they admire the actor they named, do they really admire them for their acting? If they choose a notorious actor, shouldn’t you question their taste?
If you weren’t acting, what would you have been doing?
This question tells you a lot about their personality type, interests, and knowledge in certain subjects. The answer you’ll get might also reveal the actor’s existing skill sets apart from acting. Depending on the project, the actor in question might be required to dance, sing, play a musical instrument, drive, spar, use weapons, ride horses, or speak a foreign language. Actors who already have the needed skills will be the most appealing to cast because the production won’t have to spend time and money giving lessons.
As a disclaimer, asking these questions will only serve as your basis for assessing the individual behind the actor that the production will be dealing with during the course of the project. Good answers will not guarantee a good audition performance, but good answers paired with a convincing performance will definitely help you determine which actor to book for the role.