Now that it has been confirmed that the open casting call Disney is holding in Chicago next week is – in fact – for Star Wars Episode VII, the vibe in the local acting community is gonna get crazier than a nest full of gundarks.
I know of a few folks who are planning on attending the casting call, and I even hope to get a firsthand account of how their day went once the dust has settled.
What? Why isn't one of Chicago's biggest Star Wars geeks gonna try out for the role, you ask? Well, the character description for the male part is for a "Young man to play 19-23 years old. Must be handsome, smart and athletic." Now, for all I've been up to with my Jedi Training Challenge, I may be a bit athletic, but I think come up short in the "handsome" and "young" categories.
So, since I can't go for the role myself, I wanted to give some advice to those who are planning to take a shot at becoming the next big star in what may be one of the most long-awaited sequels in motion picture history:
TOP 5 THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN ON A CASTING CALL FOR STAR WARS EPISODE VII:
5) DO NOT GEEK OUT! If you go in and talk about how much you've loved Star Wars your entire life and how you've always dreamed about being in a Star Wars movie, you may make the casting director wonder whether you're an actor or just a fan. Sure, they may want to cast someone who's familiar with the films – but what you DO want to say is that while you're a fan of the films it's because you really believe in the power of fable and fantasy to speak to the human consciousness. And drop the name Joseph Campbell and his book "The Hero With A Thousand Faces" into the conversation if you can.
4) PREPARE BY READING THE STAR WARS RADIO DRAMA SCRIPTS. When the original trilogy came out, a series of radio dramas was produced for NPR. They were written by acclaimed sci-fi/fantasy author Brian Daley and fleshed out the three classic films, adding scenes that were never included in the movies. The scripts for these radio dramas are available at bookstores and can help give you some practice handling the sometimes challenging dialogue that the actors in the Star Wars films have had to recite.
Having said that…
3) BE READY TO READ A SCRIPT THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SPACESHIPS AND LIVING IN SPACE! If you watch the audition tapes for the original Star Wars movies, the actors speak in the vaguest terms about situations that have nothing to do with space travel or alien worlds.
What got Mark Hamill the role of Luke Skywalker wasn't how he talked about X-wing fighters, but his earnestness, his wide-eyed innocence, his idealism. What got Harrison Ford the role of Han Solo was his smirk and his sardonic nature. Carrie Fisher landed the role of Princess Leia because she had fire and wit, and gave as good as she got. I say if you have these personality traits, use them and turn it up to 11.
2) DO NOT BRING PROPS. Leave your nephew's Clone Wars Commander Cody blaster on his bedroom floor. Props will give you too much to think about. And you'll look silly.
Which brings me to my NUMBER ONE THING TO REMEMBER…
1) DO NOT GO IN COSTUME! I REPEAT: DO. NOT. GO. IN. COSTUME. Do not pull a Sean Young (who went to her Batman audition in full Catwoman attire) and go dressed as Princess Leia's daughter or Luke Skywalker's nephew. If you want to wear something that suggests living in that galaxy far, far away, okay. But unless you can somehow read the casting director's mind, or got a glimpse at the costume designs that Lucasfilm has hidden away in their vaults, you run the risk of absolutely not looking like the character they’re casting for and knocking yourself out of the running.
And there you have it. Now, as a non-actor who hasn't tried out for a play since grade school, you can take my advice with a grain of salt. But I've read about enough casting call disasters to know that there are obvious mistakes you can avoid.
Just know that if you manage to score one of these roles-of-a-lifetime, not only will you have the expectations of an entire legion of Star Wars fans ready to accept you as the next Han Solo or – gasp – reject you as the next young Anakin Skywalker. (Hm. Now that I think about it, the older Anakin didn’t fare that well either.)
And you’re gonna have an action figure that is going to be on toy shelves FOREVER.
So good luck…
…and may the Force be with you.
Elliott Serrano is a Redeye Special Contributor, resident geek and a Star Wars fan. His midichlorian count is way higher than yours, so don't even try it.
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