When Sebastian Stan was first offered the chance to audition for "The Martian," all he was told was that it was a Ridley Scott movie and it took place in space — and no, he couldn't read the script. It's the kind of situation that used to freak him out as an actor, but he's gotten over it.
You weren't allowed to read the script before auditioning?
It's true. Basically I got a phone call where the casting director was on the other end saying, "You've got 48 hours to put yourself on tape. There's a part in this movie, it's the last part to be cast, Ridley Scott is directing. And you can't read the script." Once I did a little bit of research that night, I realized there was a book, and immediately I was like, is it possible for me to read a book in one night?
If you have to put yourself on tape without the script, what do you do?
They gave me basically three quick scenes, and none of the stuff was dramatic, per se. Sometimes when you get an audition they select a scene that's very dramatic or "shows your range," but these scenes were very practical and there didn't seem to be much to them — other than speaking this very scientific language. So I kind of went in not nervous for once. I actually went in there like, "You know what? I'm going to do my best, and who knows? This is such a long shot." So actually that might have helped.
But everything's a long shot, isn't it? Unless they're offering you the part?
Yeah, but you always have to audition with these big directors like Ridley, and that's a given. You put your ego aside and you go for it, but it's always a weird process. When I was younger I used to take it personally. "Am I good enough?" But as you get older you realize there's so many different intricacies. Now, it helps that some of the movies I didn't get didn't turn out to be hits, and then you feel like you've dodged a bullet. (laughs)
Any you'd care to name?
I remember my screen test for "Star Trek." I was in a room with J.J. Abrams. It's a screen test, so usually you get a costume and there's four cameras, but I just basically was in a room with him and eight really old Mac computers and him going at me, "There's something that looks like a polar bear, and he's chasing you, and now you've come across this huge cliff but it's pink because of the atmosphere and so on. You're just at the edge of this thing and you're about to fall, and go!" I was 22 at the time, I was so nervous. I remember went to this photographer before, I took all these young William Shatner photographs and I was like, "Make me look like this!" That's the only one I didn't get that turned out to be a monstrous hit.
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