It’s not personal is a phrase that we get used to as actors. When we audition, the process of choosing who comes for a call-back isn’t about how well you memorized and hit your mark. And getting the call-back is a bigger deal than most may think. It’s a huge sign that you’ve been seen. Moving the next step of booking a role is even less personal.
When the final decision is made, it may be that you are exactly what the director and producers are looking for to fill the role as a physical type. It could be all about the choices you made that illuminates how the character fits in the story arc. You may have brought something so surprisingly fresh, that while you don’t fit the initial vision for the part, they want to see what else you’ve got!
There are so many variables, that from production’s side of the desk, are absolutely not personal. Yet for actors, it is personal. It has to be. We personally took time to research, analyze, scrutinize, memorize and focus up to our eyes. We arranged for time off from our day jobs, secured child care, sometimes driven 3 hours one way to audition. We have meditated, coached and prepped. We have invested all of ourselves into the role, because ultimately we are walking in with an authentic, vulnerable, real version of a person on a page two thirds of the way through the script. 20 characters in black and white, that for some reason is necessary to move the plot forward and get the star pointed in a particular direction.
For us as actors, it is always personal. If it wasn’t, our performances would be lack luster and mechanical. For production, it is never personal, because if it was, it would get real messy, real fast. So how do we live in the gap between them?
It’s about understanding all the jobs in the process of getting the movie finished. Our job is to be real people, with real emotions, experiencing something really odd, scary, sad or exciting. We play the humans. Production’s job is to ensure the script is served and the film gets made, on time, and on budget.
It’s another tool we can use to stay sane in the business. Respect the roles and understand where we fit in the big picture. As actors we are contributing to the process every time we audition. We help the filmmakers gain insight into their story and believe me, even if you didn’t book the role? Your voice made an impact.
So keep up the good work by keeping it personal, while not taking it personally. And break a leg out there.