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Actors Who Had Awkward Auditions For Their Famous Roles

Have you ever had one of those awkward interviews where things didn't go quite as well as planned? Of course you have—and it should come as some consolation that a number of world-famous actors have had them too. Just like us, they have to wake up in the morning, brush their teeth, do their research, go into the interview looking sharp and well-prepared, and sit in front of prospective bosses who judge them on their performance. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn't. And sometimes, it's just plain messy.

Here are some of the most awkward auditions actors have ever suffered—and still landed the gig.

Bill Skarsgard—Pennywise in It

While looking for the perfect Pennywise, It: Chapter One director Andy Muschietti asked prospective actors to show up for a callback wearing regular clothes and simple clown makeup. Actor Bill Skarsgård obliged—which made for one awkward commute. "I get into the car and had to drive across L.A. in this clown makeup," Skarsgård recalled to Entertainment Weekly, after explaining how he had to have his girlfriend paint his face beforehand. "There was something kind of humiliating and absurd about the whole thing ... It's kind of a metaphor for what the profession of acting feels like."

Since he already looked like a weirdo, Skarsgård used the awkward commute to practice his most skin-crawling clown laugh. "So I'm sitting in the car and I feel ridiculous," the Swedish actor explained," but I thought I might as well absorb it and use it. So I just started to laugh like crazy in the car, as I'm just bearing down on pedestrians." Making things even more uncomfortable, Skarsgård actually had to walk a few blocks through Hollywood wearing the frightening makeup—at which point he decided to just stay in character, presumably creeping out plenty of innocent bystanders. "It was one of the most bizarre things I've ever done," he said. "It sums up my approach to this character."

To be fair, Skarsgård walking a few blocks in clown makeup probably isn't the strangest thing you'll find on the streets of Los Angeles.

Rory McCann—Sandor The Hound Clegane in Game of Thrones

It's hard to imagine anyone other than Rory McCann playing Sandor "The Hound" Clegane in HBO's hit fantasy-drama series Game of Thrones, but he might have missed getting the gig had it not been for a set of less-than-fortunate circumstances.

"I think I really only got the part because my sister f***ed up," the Scottish-born actor and former bridge painter told Rolling Stone. "She was supposed to print out what I was meant to learn for the audition speech, but she sent me the wrong one—only two or three lines, that was it." So while everyone else was busy memorizing their speech about how the Hound got his trademark burned face and fear of fire, McCann had to request his audition be delayed by a solid four hours. Not the best first impression.

However, it was that anger of being so drastically unprepared—and in a London heat wave, no less—that ultimately helped McCann land the role. "I was f***ing raging," he said. "When I walked into the room, I knew I had to go crazy, so I unleashed all this ... Something worked."

Ryan Gosling—Noah Calhoun in The Notebook

Casting the role of Noah Calhoun in 2004's romantic drama The Notebook proved to be quite the challenge, as few actors found the character's arc particularly compelling. Luckily, Hollywood heartthrob Ryan Gosling successfully brought Noah to life, but he wasn't cast for his good looks. Quite the opposite, actually.

Having largely played lesser-known characters (and an absolute liability at cornerback) prior to The Notebook, Gosling wasn't yet a regular on "Sexiest Man Alive" lists—which is exactly what director Nick Cassavetes wanted. "[He] called me to meet him at his house," Gosling explained to British magazine Company. "When I got there, he was standing in his backyard, and he looked at me and said, 'I want you to play this role because you're not like the other young actors out there in Hollywood. You're not handsome, you're not cool, you're just a regular guy who looks a bit nuts." (Insert stunned pause and awkward statement of appreciation here.)

Of course, The Notebook helped make Gosling one of the more sought-after leading men in Hollywood, while also proving that there's more to sex appeal than traditional good looks.

Dakota Johnson—Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey

When auditioning for one the most sexually explicit mainstream films ever made, one can expect the casting process to be more than a little awkward.

While attempting to differentiate herself from the other young actresses vying for the lead role in 2015's erotic drama Fifty Shades of Grey, Dakota Johnson was asked to perform a scene from psychologically heavy 1996 Swedish film Persona. According to Elle, the sexually vulgar scene touches on the topics of infidelity, having a ménage à quatre with another woman and two teenage boys, and abortion—not exactly dinner-table talk. Though lead actor Jamie Dornan told MTV that things never got too freaky during the casting process, Johnson claimed "it was bizarre to just be in pseudo-intimate situations with complete strangers who are, like, so so so nervous ... it's really uncomfortable." (Almost as uncomfortable as walking in on your mom reading E.L. James' novel on Mother's Day.)

Still, Johnson stood out from the rest and landed the gig thanks to her willingness to do and say whatever it takes. "I don't have any problem doing anything," Johnson told Elle. "The secret is I have no shame."

Margot Robbie—Naomi Lapaglia in The Wolf of Wall Street

When recalling her awkward audition for the lead female role in 2013's biographical crime comedy The Wolf of Wall Street, Margot Robbie remembered thinking to herself that she had yet to make a lasting impression during a scene with the movie's lead character—and that time was rapidly running out. Desperate times, as they say, call for desperate measures.

"And so I start screaming at him," Robbie told Harper's Bazaar, "and he's yelling back at me. And he's really scary. I can barely keep up. And he ends it saying, 'You should be happy to have a husband like me. Now get over here and kiss me.' So I walk up really close to his face and then I'm like, 'Maybe I should kiss him. When else am I ever going to get a chance to kiss Leo DiCaprio, ever?'" Kiss him she did not. In fact, she did just the opposite. "I hit him in the face," she said. "And then I scream, 'F**k you!' And that's not in the script at all. The room just went dead silent and I froze."

As it would turn out, smacking the Academy Award-winner across the beak might just have been the most important decision of Robbie's career. "She clinched her part in The Wolf of Wall Street during our first meeting," director Martin Scorsese claimed. "[It was] an improvisation that stunned us all."

Harvey Spencer Stephens—Damien Thorn in The Omen

What's more awkward than watching all-American parenting legend Atticus Finch play the father of the Antichrist in 1976 horror classic The Omen? Getting hit square in the gonads by the Antichrist, that's what.

When a young Harvey Spencer Stephens auditioned for the role of Damien Thorn in the original film, director Richard Donner needed some convincing. In order to see if the boy really had what it takes to be the son of Satan, the director invited Stephens to attack him. So what did young Stephens do? He went straight to the no-no zone, hitting Donner square in the place where no man wants to be hit. Surely, that's about as evil as it gets.

Stephens never really did outgrow his thing for punching.

Tracie Thoms—Kim in Death Proof

Quentin Tarantino has certainly had his fair share of awkward moments, so it's no surprise that auditioning in front of the famous director would be anything but comfortable.

When Rent star Tracie Thoms auditioned for the part of Kim in Tarantino's exploitation film Death Proof, she took the opportunity to proactively go after the one-of-a-kind director ... and we mean really go after him. "For some reason I just started being vulgar and cussing him out," Thoms told Los Angeles Magazine. "I was possessed. I was joking and making fun of him." Even as her brain kept questioning her decision, Thoms didn't stop. "I'm still going," she told TheatreMania, "I'm cussing him out. I'm saying as many cuss words as I can in rapid succession. I'm being really rude to him. I'm insulting him."

The whole audition was so uncomfortable that Thoms nearly threw up on her way out. However, her unconventional strategy paid off. Tarantino got a kick out of it, had a good laugh, and hired her for the role.

Michelle Pfeiffer—Elvira Hancock in Scarface

During the bulk of the drawn-out auditioning process, Michelle Pfeiffer didn't seem right for Scarface. Al Pacino didn't want her. Director Brian de Palma didn't want her. In fact, as Pfeiffer recalled on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, she was relieved to be out of the running because she just wanted "the torture" to end.

Much to her initial dismay, Pfeiffer still got called back for a screen test. With nothing left to lose, the actress really went all out while testing the film's famous restaurant scene—throwing dishes and breaking things and just straight up going H.A.M. "There was blood everywhere," she told the shocked Tonight Show host, "and everyone comes running over to me, checking me out for blood. Where am I cut? They're not finding anything. There are no cuts on me."

That's because Pfeiffer wasn't the one bleeding. During the mayhem, the Grease 2 star somehow managed to cut Pacino. That's right—she made Tony Montana himself bleed! She sliced The Godfather! She shed Serpico's blood! While most of us would probably run for our lives, Pfeiffer stood her ground ... and the awkward display landed her the breakthrough role.

Cillian Murphy—Scarecrow in Batman Begins

When Cillian Murphy tried out for 2005's superhero film Batman Begins, he didn't originally don Scarecrow's burlap mask. He actually auditioned for the Caped Crusader himself—but the results were, to quote the Irish actor, "awkward."

As shown in footage from the early screen test, Murphy looks a bit too psychotic to play Batman—significantly more so than everyone's favorite American Psycho, Christian Bale. He's also missing that notoriously gruff Batman voice. (See: "Where's the trigger?!") Nevertheless, Murphy still made quite the impression on director Christopher Nolan, who called his dark performance "incredible in every way."

Murphy's awkward audition as Batman successfully slotted him into the role of Scarecrow, and the final results speak for themselves.

Harrison Ford—Han Solo in Star Wars

Though it's almost hard to believe, there once was a time when Harrison Ford wasn't a bona fide acting legend. In fact, before landing smooth smuggler Han Solo in Star Wars, Ford's most noteworthy acting credit was a relatively minor role in director George Lucas' American Graffiti. And since Lucas didn't want anyone from Graffiti to be a part of Star Wars, Ford initially had to keep his day job as a carpenter.

Lucky for Ford, producer Fred Roos thought he'd be perfect for the role of Han Solo ... and conveniently needed a door built in the offices where Lucas was conveniently holding auditions for his epic space trilogy. The director was in need of another actor to read for Han, so Lucas had little choice but to let Ford try out for the part. The rest is history. Kinda.

While Lucas thinks Roos arranged the meeting on purpose, Ford strongly disagrees. "No, no, that didn't happen," Ford told Lucas during a Star Wars Celebration panel. "I wouldn't just sit around waiting for you." The argument was cut short to avoid any further awkwardness. Roos, however, backs up Ford, claiming the actor had been doing carpentry work for him for years. "He needed money, he had kids, he wasn't a big movie star yet. The day he was doing it, George happened to be there. It was serendipitous."

Serendipitous, and awkward.