10 Great Comedy Film Audition Tapes

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Watching an actor or actress’ screen test or audition tape feels very voyeuristic, like you’re seeing something that’s not supposed to be seen. They’re reading back scenes that, more often than not, will make it into the movie, but they haven’t mastered the role yet — they’re just auditioning, and God knows I wouldn’t want my first draft of, well, anything to be looked at by thousands, if not millions.

But we’re not here to debate the morality of all that: let’s instead take a look at the audition tapes for 10 comedians, from Steve Carell to Emma Stone, for 10 different roles, all of which they eventually won. And after watching the screen tests, it’s not hard to see why.

Actor: Kristen Bell

Role: Sarah Marshall

Movie: Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Why She Won the Role: She’s a likable villain.

Actor: Steve Carell

Role: Brick Tamland

Movie: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Why He Won the Role: The redness of Carell’s face when he’s pretending to choke.

Actor: Jim Carrey

Role: Andy Kaufman/Tony Clifton

Movie: Man on the Moon

Why He Won the Role: Jim Carrey really gets that “take my wife, please” joke.

Actor: Michael Cera

Role: Evan

Movie: Superbad

Why He Won the Role: He’s wimpy, sure, but there’s conviction in Cera’s speech, a skill most actors can’t pull off.

Actress: Megan Fox

Role: Mikaela Banes

Movie: Transformers

Why She Got the Role: BEST. COMEDY. EVER.

Actress: Alyson Hannigan

Role: Michelle Flaherty

Movie: American Pie

Why She Won the Role: She’s breathless and nerdy, yet also sexy, which is actually what the part required.

Actress: Audrey Hepburn

Role: Princess Ann

Movie: Roman Holiday

Why She Won the Role: So perfectly dignified, but there’s something mischievous beneath her majesty.

Actor: Dustin Hoffman

Role: Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels

Movie: Tootsie

Why He Won the Role: At times, and as weird as this is to say, you actually forget it’s Dustin Hoffman playing Dorothy.

Actor: Sam Rockwell

Role: Chuck Barris

Movie: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Why He Won the Role: Confessions is barely a comedy, but I wanted to include at least one video of Sam Rockwell dancing, which is precisely the reason he won the role.

Actress: Emma Stone

Role: Olive Penderghast

Movie: Easy A

Why She Won the Role: She breezes through tongue-twisting phrases as if she were coming up with them on her own, and her cadence is just vapid enough that she feels like a real online diary-filmer. But because of her Emma Stoneness, it’s never obnoxious and always charming.