Well, I had an audition this week for a part I'm not sure I'll take if they offer it. That seems weird to be thinking about that. I've always taken the parts that were offered – most of them were pretty good, and the ones that weren't great, at least weren't bad. But this one is not something I really want to do – and that's saying a lot since I've played some really strange and weird characters.
This makes me think about actors who are offered parts that they don't want to do. The most common ones – at least for young females – involve nudity. Others may include: your character taking drugs, or you might be a vegetarian and have to eat meat as part of the role (like in a fast food commercial), or you could be playing a really sleazy sexual predator (like a child molester).
Should you tell your agent up front if you know you won't do certain roles? This can be a difficult decision, because your agent doesn't want to lose money – especially if it's something like a commercial that might bring in a lot of bucks, or a role in a film that he believes will help your career take off, but yes – if you know of definite roles you won't take – tell your agent! There's no point in auditioning for them if you won't do them. Of course, your agent may tell you to go ahead and audition for the nude role and if they want you, he'll try to negotiate that they use a body double for the nude scenes.
But first, you need to have a talk with yourself and figure out what you really won't do. However, keep the list short – one or two things are probably not going to upset your agent too much. But three things or more are going to be a problem. Even if you don't have an agent, there are just so many stories, whether they are for TV or film, that involve “heavy” subjects – especially in low-budget films. Why? – because they're trying to get noticed, and the more “on the edge” they are, the more they may get people's attention.
Also, just like in acting class, you should be willing to get at least a little bit out of your comfort zone - acting isn't about always playing it safe.
What if you're really nice, and don't want to do any swearing, or nudity, or “heavy” stuff? And don't want to even have to audition for those kinds of roles? Well – I see two choices for you – learn to sing and dance really well, and head for New York to do light musical comedies. Or work up a very clean (but funny) stand-up act and aim for getting on a sitcom.
You really have to take a good look at what you are comfortable with, and draw the line. Never let people (agents, producers, directors) talk you into doing something you are uncomfortable doing. Remember, if it's on film or video, it's going to be around for a very long time! And if it's really disgusting, it may end up on YouTube, or a site like that, and be sent to all your friends, and relatives, etc.
So, back to that role I auditioned for a few days ago - what if they offer me the part that I'm not crazy about? To be honest, it may come down to money (yes, sometimes that's what it comes down to – we do have to make a living!). But, they're going to have to pay me more than they probably want to – which means they may simply go with someone else that they can get cheaper. Of course, since I haven't been offered the role yet, this is just me thinking about what I'll do if they do offer it to me. Working it out so I know where I will draw the line if and when my agent calls.
Have you ever had to make these kinds of decisions? Drop me a email and let me know how you handled it.