I had a lot of crazy audition experiences.
There’s several times when I’ve done exactly what you’re not supposed to do in an audition process. Partly because I’m just rebellious and like to do that kind of thing; but this is a big no-no, so for any of you actors out there, don’t ever do what I’m about to tell you what I did.
I was auditioning for a Charlie Sheen movie called Navy Seals. Was it good? I’ve never seen it. And those producers will probably never work with me again.
So I went in for the first audition and gave what I felt was a very, very good reading.
The producers called me at my house, and they were like, ‘Mark, we thought that reading was excellent. We want you to come back, and we want you to just improvise. Just make something up and play with the scenes.’
Well, in order to do that with a scene, there’s got to be material within the scene that makes that possible. You just can’t do it off the cuff. Something in it has to suggest that kind of improvisation.
And I was like, ‘what do you want me to improvise?’ ‘We don’t know. You can just come in and make it up.’
That’s mistake number one! I think I was practising for the Lucifer part even then.
So I decided that I was going to pretend like they were my fellow Navy seals, friends, and that they had played a practical joke on me. And then I was going to play a practical joke on them.
So I had a fake gun… that looked real. And I decided I was going to pretend like they made me so mad with their practical joke that I was going to kill all of them in the room.
It’s not sounding very funny right now.
But I thought they’ll know this is a fake gun because there’s a little hole under the barrel, so you can sort of tell if you’re looking closely that it’s plastic.
That was not the case.
I walked into the room, a room full of producers. Innocent producers. And went, ‘Hey Mark, how are you doing?’ I went like, ‘you know,’ and I started improvising. And then, at a certain point when I pitched myself into an emotional lather, I pulled my gun on them. I expected them to be like, ‘ooh, oh that’s funny … hahaha, funny!’
Here was the response. ‘Mark. Mark, please put the gun down. Please.’ Now in the back of my mind, because I’m sane, a little voice was saying, ‘this is bad. This is very bad. This isn’t turning out well.’
So I just laughed. ‘Ahhh, You fuckers. You fell for it. It’s a fake gun. Motherfuckers. You guys aren’t a bunch of Navy Seals; you’re a fucking pussy.’
They did not laugh. They said, ‘thank you very much. Goodbye.’ And that was the last I heard of it.
I did another one. You want me to tell you one more story? This one is positive.
Another Charlie Sheen movie! What the fuck is it with Charlie Sheen movies and me and auditions?
I was going to play an undercover cop. And the sides, the audition material, wasn’t very interesting, but the fact I was an undercover cop sort of made it dangerous and interesting.
But I didn’t think it would show off what I could do. So here’s another thing you’re not supposed to do. Don’t ever walk into a casting office and say, ‘I’m not going to do the material you gave me. I’m going to do my own thing.’
I took this book by Mark Baker called Cops. It’s one of the books we use in the technique I studied to learn speeches and monologues. And I learned a seven-page speech.
Now, whenever you do a speech or monologue for somebody, you’re supposed to keep it to about a minute.
A seven-page speech from a book narrative is about ten minutes long. But it was one I really felt connected to, because the cop — it was a true story — and it’s a cop who helps catch this rapist. And it was a really, really beautiful story and had all kinds of cool emotional moments in it.
So I walked into the office, and there’s all the producers and the director sitting there, the casting director, Geno Havens, who I think has since passed away. They’re like, ‘okay, Mark, you ready to go? I’m like, ‘I am. But I’m not doing the material you gave me. Just roll the camera and I have something else in store.’ And they kind of looked at me. And they went ‘okay,’ and they rolled the camera, and I did this speech.
And thank god it was a very good day because it just came out. And they stopped it at the end and were like ‘Wow, we thought that was amazing.’ They went on for about fifteen-twenty minutes. And I left, and they didn’t hire me!
Three weeks later, I went in for Geno Havens again, that same casting director, and he said, ‘Mark, that was the best audition I’ve ever seen,’ and he hired me for that movie that I went for, which turned out to be A Murder Of Crows.
So I think there’s a moral to this story: do whatever the fuck you want. There are no goddamn rules. Be true to yourself in there, and they’ll be true as well. You’ll force them to be true.Mark Pellegrino, New Jersey 2018