What Casting Directors Look For in an Actor

April 25, 2019 -   Industry Tips
What Casting Directors Look For

When you didn’t get the part, we’re sure your friends told you that it wasn’t because your acting wasn’t good enough. This actually rings true from a casting director’s perspective. Many factors are taken into consideration during the casting process. Plain skill isn’t the only/main quality that they note down during auditions. Largely depending on the project, here’s what casting directors look for in an actor.

What Casting Directors Look For in Actors

Good attitude

Casting directors want to find the best actor out of a group of actors who all look basically the same. Other than acting skills, what casting directors look for is an actor who’s easy to work with. First and foremost, you want the casting director to like you as a person. When you enter the audition room, the only people present besides you will be the producer, a camera operator, the casting director, and if it’s a commercial audition, a representative from the advertiser. Whoever the people there are, treat them all with respect. No matter what they look like, how they appear, or what you know about them, be polite and nice.

Be prompt, punctual, disciplined, prepared, willing, and respectful to everyone involved in the production, including the cleaning people. In other words, be professional. Furthermore, you have to know how to practice a balanced mixture of confidence and humility in front of the casting professionals.

The entertainment industry is quite small. You’ll probably run into the same people again and again in many other projects. If you exude negative vibes or project bad attitude, news about it will spread like wildfire. Gwyneth Paltrow’s career, for example, has not taken off in the last couple of years since she made rude comments.
Right Look

The right look

Casting directors, producers, and even talent agents are going to be quite particular with your physical image. As a matter of fact, they consider this the 50% rule. These professionals have already familiarized the script, so they’ve envisioned a corresponding look for each character involved. This means that the minute you walk into an audition room and you look just like the character you are auditioning for, you have already won the role by half. All you have to do is act the part well and the job is definitely in the bag.


Being prepared is definitely one of the most essential keys to nail an audition. Casting directors, producers, and agents would know whether you have familiarized the slides, practiced, and clearly understood the character you auditioned for or not.

Don’t worry about not memorizing the lines they have provided ahead or during the audition. What casting directors look for is how you deliver the role and show your character’s personality. You will only be able to do this effectively if you prepared well.

Ability to take direction

The audition room is your first chance to show just what kind of an actor you are. Having prepared your lines and decided on your character portrayal, you will be fully prepared to demonstrate your skills and ability to perform the role. However, at the end of your reading, the director or the casting director will probably ask you to do something differently. Whether it’s a different style of reading or movement, they will request that you try it again a slightly different way. Whenever the director gives you instruction, do not look puzzled, do not think for a moment, do not immediately start speaking or start to defend yourself or explain why you weren’t doing it in the first place. Just take it in, do it, and stay quiet.

Remember, you are there for one reason: to fulfill the director’s vision. It can be easy to forget since it may seem like your job is simply acting your part. But keep in mind that the director controls everything that happens onstage or on set. They are the person in charge. Learning to take direction is one of the most important qualities an actor needs to have. All the talent in the world cannot save you once you’ve built up a reputation for being difficult on set and argumentative with directors.


This quality points out to how an actor creates a connection—not just with the audience but with fellow performers. Whether you are auditioning for a TV role, a character for a motion picture, or a part in a theater production, it is important to establish a relationship with those whom you are interacting in a scene. Although this is something you can’t control, you can develop this quality through active listening, reacting to instinct, and picking up on impulses.

Acting skill

Your acting ability, lastly, plays a crucial role during an audition. People responsible for casting need to find this one out as soon as possible. As an aspiring actor, you have to ensure that you are believable in any kind of scene. If you sound like you’re reciting lines, with intonation incongruous with the text or if you deliver lines without purpose, then casting directors are not going to find you deserving. Do you deliver your lines the same way every time? How do you react when other lines are being read to you? Are you angry, waiting for the next opportunity to deliver your retort? Or is something particularly profound being suggested and you’d want to take a moment to contemplate?

Sure, casting directors would like to give newer actors a chance to get experience, but producers can’t. Film festivals will reject the film for “stiff performances” if they don’t choose the best actors available. If this is a challenge for you, you may want to attend acting classes to learn how to “act naturally under imaginary circumstances.”

Good Luck!

Now that you know what casting directors look for, it is time to assess yourself if you have them or not and start to develop them into your personality if you don’t. Once you have the winning personality to make any casting director like you, browse the opportunities waiting for you at Explore Talent. Good luck!