Everybody makes mistakes! It is impossible for actors not to have a worst audition story after years of trying out for roles — but some stand out more than others.
Matt LeBlanc‘s worst audition earned him the role of Joey Tribbiani on Friends, one of his most famous characters to this day.
“I remember I had gone in a bunch of times and I think it was on the final callback, I had gone with a friend of mine to run lines,” LeBlanc recalled during the highly anticipated Friends reunion, which debuted on HBOMax in May 2021. “And he said, ‘So the show is about friends and being friends? Just a group of friends?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, kinda!’ And he was like, ‘Well, we should go out drinking.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s a good idea!'”
It turned out not to be such a good idea, however.
“To make a long story short, I woke up in the middle of the night at his apartment and had to go to the bathroom,” LeBlanc explained. “I got up too fast and I can’t believe I’m telling this, but I kind of blacked out — as you do — and fell face-first into the toilet, hit my nose on the bottom of the toilet seat, and a huge chunk of meat came off my nose. And I’m looking in the mirror, it’s bleeding, and I’m like, ‘Oh, my God. I have to go in for the big callback and [there’s] a big ugly scab on my nose.'”
As luck would have it, the creator of the show, Marta Kaufmann, found the story behind the injury so true to Joey’s character that it scored LeBlanc the role.
Not all bad auditions ends with a good result, as Jake Gyllenhaal knows all too well.
During a 2016 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Gyllenhaal revealed that he originally tried out for Lord of the Rings. The audition took place over “a conference call from, like, 14 agents” who were excited about the prospect of having him play Frodo, a role that ultimately went to Elijah Wood.
“They called me up and they were like, ‘Oh, guess what!’ And I was like, ‘What!’” the Brokeback Mountain actor recalled. “‘… and when they said they needed a hobbit, we thought, Jake!’”
Things went downhill during the audition when Gyllenhaal was instructed to only follow “lots of stage directions” — but say “no lines.”
His interpretation of the scene was not what director Peter Jackson was looking for.
“Literally, Peter Jackson was like, [facepalm],” the October Sky star said, acknowledging that Jackson had some harsh criticism for him at the time. “[He said,] ‘You are the worst actor that I have ever seen. Did anyone tell you you’re supposed to have an accent?’”
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