10 Reasons You Didn’t Book the Role You Should Have Booked

There are countless potential reasons why you didn’t book the role you thought surely you were going to book. Let’s just start by digesting these ten.

(by Carmichael Phillips)

Have you ever been so amazing in your audition that you were sure you got the role? You could tell by the reactions of the decision-makers that the role was yours! They spent significant time with you. They seemed delighted by your performance. You seemed to shine above all the other competing actors. You even made a good social connection with the director.

So why on earth didn’t you get the role that you knew was yours?

Well, like many things in the acting business…it’s complicated.

Here are 10 reasons you didn’t book the role you were sure that you booked:

1. You didn’t have the right talent

(Photo: Lucas Clarysse/Unsplash)

Just because you have talent, doesn’t mean you have the right kind of talent.

For instance, you might have been extremely funny in your hypothetical audition for the role of “off-beat co-worker”. But did you “bring the funny”, while also conveying a sense of depth and vulnerability needed for that role?

After all, in this example role, the “off-beat co-worker” has a scene where he gets fired and must go from being quirky and comedic to being an empathetic figure. That’s a kind of complexity that not all actors can pull off.

You might have had the talent. But was your talent, your unique skillset, right for that particular role?

2. You didn’t have the right look

Actors don’t just get cast based on talent. They are also cast based on their look. It’s all part of one big package.

Perhaps your acting chops left them licking their chops, eager to cast you. But, in the end, your look was not what they were, uh…looking for.

3. You didn’t have the right essence

(Photo: Roy Alanwar/Unsplash)

Actors are not just cast based on their talent. They are not just cast based on their look. They are also cast based on their essence; the energy that they give off. Just because you had a good read for the role of “Imposing Security Guard” doesn’t mean you exuded the kind of quiet confidence and effortless presence needed for the role.

4. You didn’t have the proper connections

(Photo: Cytonn Photography/Unsplash)

Like it or not, this is a business about connections, not just talent. As the old entertainment industry saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

You might have had a terrific audition. But, if the casting director has a longstanding relationship with another actor competing for the same role, you could get passed over, despite turning in an Oscar-worthy audition.

5. You didn’t fit the role better than another actor

Just because you have the right talent and look and essence and connections doesn’t mean there isn’t another actor who possesses those same qualities and more. Your audition might have been brilliant! But that doesn’t mean that you are a brilliant choice for that particular role. Another actor might just fit – brilliantly – what the decision-makers were looking for all along.

6. You looked too much like the lead

Casting decisions aren’t based on talent alone. It’s also about creating an imaginary world that looks like the real thing. It’s about putting together an ensemble of characters that is clear, believable and entertaining to an audience. That’s not likely to be accomplished if you look like the long-lost twin of the lead character.

7. You were too tall…or too short…or something.


Actors like Tom Cruise are notoriously short. If you are cast in a scene with a lead actor who is quite a bit shorter than you, how is he or she supposed to intimidate you in the scene, or portray your father or older sister, or be your prince charming who sweeps you off your feet?

You can be sure there’ll be a height cut-off for your role. If you’re too tall, you won’t be cast opposite the lead character, no matter how good your audition was.

8. You were great, but the role has been changed


At the time of the audition, casting was looking for an actor who could play Caucasian female, ages 40-45. But later, the role was changed. Perhaps, they wanted more diversity in the scene. Now, to fill the same role, they are looking to cast an African-American male, ages 30-35. Changes made to the role’s ethnicity, age or physical characteristics can significantly impact you getting the role you initially thought was yours.

9. You didn’t get the role because there is no longer a role to get


What if you didn’t get the role because there is no longer a role to get? The entire project may have been put on ice or scrapped altogether, due to a lack of funding or other reasons. The role you auditioned for might have also been cut from the script to save time, money, or simply because, in the end, it was determined that the scene was unnecessary or did not advance the story.

Yes, sometimes, when you don’t get a role, it’s because there no longer is a role to get.

10. They just chose someone else


And the last reason you might not have booked the role you thought you would book is the easiest one: They just chose someone else. That’s it!

You were great. They liked you. They loved your choices. But that doesn’t mean you were the only actor they liked. You might have blown the roof off the audition room, but so did another actor who came in after you. It came down to a choice of either that person or you, and they chose to go with the other person.

There are countless potential reasons why you didn’t book the role you thought you were going to book. Let’s just start by digesting these ten.

Like I said…it’s complicated.


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