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
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
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
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.