17 Casting Directors Describe the Awkward Moment They Had to Cast Unattractive Characters

Obviously, not everyone who goes into acting is attractive. The stars of Hollywood generally are, sure, but if films, television, commercials, plays, etc are to reflect actually life and society, then there have to be people who are, you know…like everyone else.

Not beautiful, not thin, not perfect – but putting out casting calls for a fat, ugly dude has to be a little bit awkward, don’t you think?

These casting directors do the job every day, and they’re here to tell you that yeah. Sometimes it is.

17. It always comes back around.

The industry hasn’t been this into non traditionally attractive people since the eighties, go and get it! Your time is now!

Be yourself. That’s what they really want. In the audition, bring A LOT of yourself to the character. After that you can worry all about the character if you get the part, but auditioning wise, just be you.

That’s what they want to see.

16. You have to play to your strengths.

You know, I was thinking about it and personally I’d be happier getting a role for being fat or ugly than losing a role for not being attractive enough.

15. Times are changing.

I have a very small bald spot and they spray brown paint on it sometimes if it’s in a shot.

The example I always use is the teen stars of the eighties : Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, they would have all been out of work in the early 2000’s when cheekbones and abs were required to play the ugly best friend.

14. There’s no way to lose.

Yeah, I keep thinking of that post that’s circulated around the internet that says something like: “apply for the role of ugly/unattractive characters because if you get the role, you get to be in a movie, but if you don’t get the role then you’re not ugly enough.”

Obviously, that isn’t necessarily the reason you wouldn’t get the role but it feels like it fits here anyway.

13. They’re in it for the money. And the resume entry.

I’m also a “character” actor and laughed so hard – this is exactly right.

Just cast me man, idc what costume or makeup I’m in, am I on camera? Is there a paycheck? Check check baby.

12. There are more of you than you realize.

I spent a few years in LA going to auditions.

Some of the roles i got cast in include overweight jogger, fat guy with beard and guy waiting in line for donuts (which was actually not a specifically fat guy audition more a hipster which was also a lot of the roles i went out for.

It wasn’t that awkward. And i got to know a lot of dudes who kind of look like me just from seeing them at the same auditions.

Most awkward audition was for a Polish tire commercial where i had to be topless.

11. This is hilarious.

Not quite the same thing but I saw an advert where they were looking to film in a bedsit, so I got in contact and the location scout came around to see my place. The film was the low budget drugs drama London To Brighton (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0490166/) and they wanted a bedsit for where the two lead characters lived, who were both heroin addicts and living in abject misery without a penny to their name.

They didn’t use my place in the end, but the location scout did say “It was almost perfect – the only problem is that it’s too small”. Which made me feel really great about where I lived back then, I can tell you!

10. I just love this answer.

I work at a theatre school. The acting students are typically striking-looking in some way. Strikingly beautiful, strikingly gaunt, strikingly unsettling, strikingly kind. The fat students are usually a bit big but also very strong and agile. The ugly students are ugly in a unique and interesting way, not merely less-attractive than their peers, but positively more ugly. They’re both the same distance from plain, but in different directions.

This is usually a selling point for them, and they know it. Someone who looks fat and lazy but has the stamina to perform all day is an absolute prize. Someone whose selling point is his trainwreck of a face knows exactly what he looks like, and in conjunction with his performance skills, has a very sellable product.

Remember that most roles have an audition process. You subscribe to, or ask your agent to keep an eye out for roles you are confident you can play. Most actors aren’t after a Juliet, a Hamlet. They are after roles that fit their description and skill set. “Short, plump ginger-haired woman with a maternal smile in her late 40s” is a role certain actors will find and send in a headshot for, just like “Hispanic, unattractive, 50+ lbs overweight man, lazy eye or missing teeth desirable” will catch the eye of others. You apply for the roles.

Professional actors are confident self-starters after a job that pays, that gets them seen, that lets them show off their range, so as to continue building their career.

9. Embrace your brand.

“Fat Neil?”

“Uh, ‘Neil’ is fine.”

“Is it?”

8. Striking is a category all on its own.

This is a great answer. My husband did a fair amount of acting as an older teen/young adult and he is definitely in the “striking” category. He isn’t conventionally handsome, but he has a look and a presence – think of a tall, slender, blond Abraham Lincoln with a red beard.

He ultimately realized he didn’t have the true drive for acting and ended up going into computer work, but I think he could have definitely succeeded if he had really wanted to. By the way, I find him incredibly attractive, and he has totally aged into his looks. Now he’s a very striking-looking older man.

7. And yet she went to the audition.

I read that the actress that played Dolores Umbridge was told by friend “Omg you would be perfect for that role!” and then she read that Umbridge was described as toad-like in the books and was like “wow… thanks….”

6. That doesn’t feel great.

David Harbour from Stranger Things auditioned for the role of ‘The Blob’ in one of the X-Men movies and was told he was too fat.

5. If she loves acting, probably fine.

I’ve thought about this a lot. Especially with kids.

The little girl in desperate housewives who was the “fat kid”- Eva longorias’ characters kid- pretty sure that was her storyline.

How does a small child grow up with self esteem when what she is known for is being the “fat kid on that tv show”?

4. Those are different things.

“We want TV fat, not fat fat.”

3. He showed us in the end, though.

Kind of reminds me of Neville having to wear a fat suit and shitty teeth throughout filming in the later couple movies up till the last one.

He said it was really hard being known as the loser of the movies.

2. I love this take.

I’ve been a professional actor for over 20 years and I can say, not awkward at all.

If you have an interesting look and you have signed up for and showed up for a casting, you know the deal. Ugly actors aren’t less smart or self aware than good looking ones.

For example, little people or dwarves, they get into acting knowing that they will more likely be an elf in a Christmas special than end up like Peter Dinklage, but they want to act regardless.

Bottom line? We are all too needy and self obsessed to feel awkward, even the ugly ones.

1. They’re working on a whole other level.

Ugly people who become actors have transcended attaching their ego to their appearance.

Mostly, acting is a job and when you do a job, you have to be realistic about what you bring to the table – and you can be a really, really good actor no matter what you look like.

If you’ve got experience with this, on either side of the table, tell us the story in the comments!