January 18, 2014

Filler Auditions: The Cold Hard Truth

So, we're going to discuss filler auditions today. What is a filler audition? I'll tell you. And please keep in mind that the term "filler audition" is not an industry standard term, it's something that I made up and it perfectly reflects what's been going on in my career these days. But it IS a real thing and it happens ALL. OF. THE. TIME. If you're an actor who auditions regularly, it may have already happened to you and you didn't even know it.

A filler audition is when you get called in for a really big part, usually a series regular or strong recurring guest star role, but you don't have a chance in hell of getting cast because the producers have already offered the part to another actor. A name actor.

What essentially happens is that the producers/network have a list with a few names of their ideal actors for the part. These are always name actors or stars. What they do is offer the role to the number one actor on that list and then depending on whether or not that actor accepts or rejects the part, they work their way down the list until someone accepts and they close a deal. Meanwhile, just in case none of the actors accept the role, or one actor does accept, but the producers/network aren't willing to meet that actor's demands (money, perks, etc.), they WILL audition the no name or lesser name actors as backup.

Now, this is not to say that just because a no name actor hits the jackpot with one of the roles, they are really just a plan b choice, but sometimes that is the case. It happens to stars too. For instance, the role of Carrie in 'Homeland', played by Claire Danes, was originally offered to Halle Berry and she turned it down. Now, Claire Danes is a star name and has won awards playing this role, but she was not the first choice.

This has been the case for me for many of my big auditions in these past few months. Hell, it's probably been the case for ALL of my big auditions, who knows? The first time I realized this was a couple of months ago. I had an audition for a strong recurring role on the 2nd season of a hit show (I can't name it, sorry), and morning of my audition, my agent called to tell me the casting session had been canceled because an actor had just accepted the part. At first, I was confused. I was thinking, why would they be seeing actors if they had offered the part already?

And then I saw the light. That harsh, bright light of truth and bitter understanding.

Then I got pissed. I had spent two days working on this character. I was well rested, I was prepared, I had eaten a good breakfast. I was ready! I mean, what the fuck!? *deep sigh*

You see, it's not that I didn't know that things like this happen, I just didn't realize to what extent it occurs. Leads in studio features? Duh. Series regulars on pilots? Yeah, that makes sense, sorta. But damn, recurring guest stars too?! Where am I supposed to dip my toes in? Where am I supposed to catch a break?

And then I realized that this was yet another obstacle that I need to figure out how to to overcome. When I figure it out, I'll let you guys know. Right now, I'm just banking on the hope that I can one day change someone's mind and make it onto that mythical list of first choice actors.


  1. I absolutely hate this.. Coming from a small city that likes to host huge film productions. They are required to audition a certain amount of local actors before giving the role to "big names". We all get our hopes up! Once I spoke with an actor coming in from Toronto who told me he had been cast the role weeks ago, when I knew my friend had auditioned for his role the other day.

    1. Wow, that's so awful and misleading! Big roles are ALWAYS cast out of major markets so I'm not surprised to hear that this is happening where you live. :(