Every actor starts from humble beginnings. Well, except for the ones who have rich and famous families to begin with. But most of them had to actually audition for the roles that made them famous. And those auditions are usually awkward. How could they not be? You’re standing in under fluorescent lighting while delivering lines — sometimes really emotional ones — to somebody off-camera who usually has zero acting ability.
While watching these audition tapes is probably a nightmare for the actors in them — so thanks for doing that to Rachel McAdams, Matt Lauer — they can be super fun for us to watch as normal people. Everyone’s so young and fresh-faced with such unfortunate hairstyles. I know you want to see the hairstyles, so without further ado, I give you twelve awkward audition tapes from early in your favorite (debatable) actors’ careers, for the roles they ended up getting that made them famous.
1. Megan Fox for Transformers
If you thought Megan Fox was dead-behind-the-eyes in the actual movie, wait until you watch her audition. I think at one point she comes this close to falling asleep. Also, was “I have a weakness for hot guys” a real line from the movie? Thank goodness I never saw it.
2. Rachel McAdams for The Notebook
Ah yes, the audition Matt Lauer made Rachel watch on live television. I don’t know which is more awkward, the fact that Rachel still has her handbag over one shoulder, or how much she’s touching her hair. Nah, it’s neither of those things. It’s the fact that her ex Ryan Gosling is reading lines off screen.
3. Emma Stone for Easy A
Is there anything Emma Stone does that doesn’t charm my pants off? Seriously, I’m sitting here pantsless right now. Even though this audition seems a little rushed and rehearsed, I can’t help but smile at her. Be my best friend, please.
4. Gerard Butler for Dracula 2000
Guys. GUYS. This may be the greatest video I’ve ever watched in my life. First of all, we have to talk about the hair. Is that a wig? Is that actually growing out of his head? Did he lose his brush? Did he grow it out like that for the specific purpose of auditioning for a vampire? And then of course there’s the acting. Oh, the ACTING. I won’t spoil it for you. Go forth and enjoy.
5. Lindsay Lohan for The Parent Trap
Oh no, that British accent. There is just something about that accent that makes my brain do a bellyflop in my skull. It’s so emphatic. Apparently not too emphatic for the filmmakers, though.
6. Jimmy Fallon for SNL
Oh my goodness, look at this adorably shy awkardpants. That’s all I have to say.
7. The Office Cast
This is a fun reel that includes auditions from a lot of now-famous people who didn’t get the parts, like Seth Rogen for Dwight (???) and Adam Scott for Jim (!!!). Then we get to the people who did get the parts. I am cracking up at Rainn Wilson. How could they even consider anyone else? Also I just fell in love with Steve Carell all over again.
8. Seth Rogen for Freaks and Geeks
Speaking of Seth Rogen! Seth was just 18 when Freaks and Geeks started. Am I the only one who’s really uncomfortable about all the laughter in the room?
They’re so little! Nothing alerts you to how quickly kids grow up quite like seeing your favorite child actors go through puberty on screen.
10. Selena Gomez for Wizards of Waverly Place
Speaking of little itty bitty adorable things, look at Selena. Of course, let’s be real here, that baby face didn’t exactly change much over the years. She just grew and got a better hairstyle.
11. Ellen Page and Olivia Thirlby for Juno
This one’s interesting because I’ve seen this movie so many times now, and watching these two deliver the lines I’m so familiar with in such a low-maintenance setting makes me feel like I’ve stepped into an alternate dimension.
12. Miley Cyrus for Hannah Montana
This is it, people. This is what started at all. Just look at her turning on the charm for that “Mamma Mia” performance. Let me know if you comprehended anything she said during the acting portion, because it was just a jumble of words flying past me faster than I could catch them. Vanessa Bayer’s impression does not exaggerate.