• Ray Watters

The Dreadful Cold-Read Audition

Updated: Sep 15

In my last blog, I covered the importance of preparation and learning your lines. I was covering preparation both in auditions and on the set; however, I want to be more specific in this blog.

I want to address just the cold read audition.

For some actors, the words “cold read” conjures up nightmarish thoughts of dread. However, as strange as it may sound, I actually enjoy the experience. And…no, I am not a masochist. I actually find the audition cold read to be an opportunity to show off my acting chops.

I have experienced a number of cold reads and have found a process that works for me…a process that others have successfully used as well.

Always…always show at your audition at least 20 minutes in advance of your scheduled time, unless instructions state different (Remember…showing up at your scheduled time is considered late!). When you sign in, you will usually be given that part of the script (sides) to look at prior to your audition. Take that time to read over your sides and highlight your lines.

Determine who your character is and what is he trying to accomplish. What are his wants…his needs? What is blocking him from getting what he wants? Make a choice on how you will portray the character.

Do not try to memorize the sides in that short time. In memorizing your lines, you will be more concerned about remembering your lines rather than developing the character. However, do memorize the first and last line. That is important! When you deliver that first line, eye contact with the reader is essential, as is your reaction to the reader’s response. Looking at your script while the reader is responding may result in you not getting a callback. Having your head in the script the entire time is a guarantee of not getting a callback.

Before you give your first line, place your thumb on your second line. That way, after the reader has responded with their line, you can quickly glance at your line. With some practice, you will learn to quickly glance at your line and give that line while looking directly at the reader. I cannot stress enough the importance of having eye contact with the reader!

Earlier I mentioned making choices on how to portray the character. You may think this would be difficult because you haven’t had access to the script to learn more about the story and the character…and you would be right! This is where you have the opportunity to show off your Oscar winning talent!

Make a choice on how you think the character should be portrayed and go for it! If you give a generic performance because you are afraid you will play it wrong, you will probably not get the booking. Take a chance…take risks!

Possibly your choice on how the character is portrayed will be totally wrong. It may be opposite of who the character is supposed to be…and that’s OK! The Director may tell you to do it a different way. This is your opportunity to show your ability to follow directions and show the Director how professional you will be on set and be able to take direction.

Rather than dreading the cold read audition, consider it an opportunity to show your acting ability, which includes your ability to take direction.

Have fun!


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