https://ericasbreamcasting.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/CASTING-SPACE-PIC-scaled.jpg 1707 2560 Erica Bream https://ericasbreamcasting.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/BREAM-LOGO-TEAL.png Erica Bream2022-01-26 17:46:582022-01-26 17:46:58CASTING STORIES: MY FINAL IN-PERSON PILOT TEST
Here’s a fun pilot season story from the old days:
We were looking for a male love interest. It was a series regular role, not the lead but an important part of the ensemble. The creators fell in love with an actor who was younger than the role was written. We tested him and the studio and network both pushed back with the same note: “He feels too young.” Too young to be with the actress we had cast (grrrrr… double standards,) and too young to have the job the character had.
Our prods picked up their broken hearts and we went back and started looking for the role, once again. But nobody had the original guy’s essence. So after some communication with the execs about our plan, the producers decided to fight for the young guy. We brought him in to read with the actress we had cast and the chemistry was BONKERS. (Like I get the vapors just *thinking* about their chemistry.) We had him read a new “on-the-job” scene that played into his youth. With those two pieces of footage, the execs gave us the go-ahead to have him test again.
Side note: No one is in this business to waste people’s time, and ultimately we are all on the same team with the same goal, which is why I want to make clear that through this entire process, we were talking to the studio and network about our intentions. If they had felt it was pointless, they would’ve told us to leave it, but they heard the producer’s passion and were open. That’s hugely important to this story.
He came to the studio and tested. Aced it. On to the network, which was the bigger hurdle. And again, this was a LIVE test. This dude knew he was climbing uphill and kept a great attitude, incredible energy and enthusiasm, bolstered by the passion we had oozed all over him. He showed up to the network test, clearly nervous, but the new material showed him off well. He did his read, left the room to wait outside and the head of the network turned to us with a thumbs up and said, “go for it.” The showrunner asked if we could tell him right then, the execs said absolutely and went back to work. Once the room was just us Casting folks and the producers, we brought the actor back in and the showrunner got to tell him, face to face, that he booked it.
Live tests were sooooooooo hard (and that’s the understatement of the century) and we didn’t always know the outcome in the room – sometimes the execs had to go and discuss or rewatch tape – but very occasionally, we got to the hug the actor and break the amazing news right in that moment.
That was the very last live test I experienced, and it was all the way back in early 2016. Everything has been on tape since then. I don’t miss the live tests. They were unbelievably stressful and they tanked many an actor who could’ve been great in those roles but who buckled under the pressure. But I’m so glad my final experience was with that young actor and that group of passionate creatives.