living in a hallway that keeps growing

An all-too familiar coda:

My friend, who I saw yesterday, called me this afternoon. I missed the call, so I heard her message on my voicemail. She was so happy and positive. “I just tested for that show! I wanted to find out if you tested too, because it would be so much fun to work together again!”

Of course, I did not test and I will not test. The only feedback I got from the audition was: “Wil isn’t the guy.”

Thanks. That’s very helpful, and lets me know if I sucked and didn’t realize it, or if I was fine, but not pretty/tall/thin/what-the-fuck-ever enough for the role.

Oh, wait. I mean it’s the platonic ideal of not that. The not knowing is awful and maddening. In the absence of any meaningful and useful feedback, all I can do is tread water in an ocean of self-doubt and try really fucking hard not to drown in pretty heavy seas.

I work so hard to not have a single fuck to give about auditions once they’re done, but the truth is: I wanted this one. I wanted it even more when there was the prospect of working on a series with my friend who will likely book this job because she is amazing.

I’ve tried to remain positive, tried to accept that this is just how it goes … but I have to face a terrible and undeniable reality: I never book jobs when I audition. When I’m offered a job, I do great work on the set, and I haven’t done a single project in the last ten years that I’m not proud of, but something clearly is not working when I audition. Something isn’t clicking between my perception of my work and the actual work, and I can’t see it. I have no idea what I’m doing wrong, no idea how I’m not getting it done, and I genuinely don’t know what to do. I know I’m a decent actor, but I think maybe I’m just horrible at auditions.

I haven’t felt this awful after not getting a job since  … Jesus, I don’t know how long. But I know that I feel like it’s just a giant fucking waste of everyone’s time for me to audition for anything, because my batting average is so far below the Mendoza Line, I would be cut from a T-ball team.

After 33 years this should be easy. I shouldn’t feel this way, ever, because math just says I’m going to go on 20 auditions for every job I book, if I’m beating the average.

It should be easy, or at least easier … but it isn’t. It never is.

94 thoughts on “living in a hallway that keeps growing”

  1. Aww that sucks. That’s my wimpy choice of words.
    I wish that, you, the amazing person you are, didn’t have to deal with this, but evidently, we’re all humans. I hope the next one goes well, and if you don’t hit again, at least you’ll keep on floating.

  2. Don’t get too down Wil. All artists go through this. We want to so much to share ourselves and our work and have everyone love it and then when you put yourself out there it isn’t always that simple. It doesn’t mean that your efforts are not worth it. You are a fantastic actor with a rabidly loyal fan-base. Your previous work will only be out shined by your future work, because I know you will kick ass at your next audition. Keep heart and work hard. We all appreciate your efforts. :)

  3. I’m sorry to hear that this audition bummed you out so much, but what you said about it maybe being a fault of the audition process itself makes sense to me. Some people don’t test well. Is there a way to record yourself auditioning and get some feedback from a third party? Often, we can’t see what’s right in front of us. You have so many talented friends, maybe one of them can give you guidance. Please know that many find you to be a most awesome and hoopy frood.

  4. You are human and not jaded, it makes things hurt but it also makes you who you are.
    So yeah it will not be easier next time, but it is also why you have so much to offer.

    Take care :)

  5. That does suck.

    But it’s not a waste of time, neither yours nor theirs.

    As Randy Pausch said, ““Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls aren’t there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show us how badly we want things.”

    It sounds like you really really wanted this one. What harm is there in going back and asking for feedback, or going back to the producer/whoever and telling them how passionate you were about the project, how badly you wanted the job? Finding out if there’s something you could have done differently, or could still do, to change their minds? I mean, it can’t make you feel worse than you do now, right?

    You never know if you don’t ask.

    1. Sometimes asking for more feedback is a double edged sword. After the last audition I did, I felt as Wil had – That was AMAZEBALLZ, I did it all right, and there’s no way they won’t offer me the part. Well, they didn’t offer me the part, and instead wanted to cast me cross-gender to fill out their ensemble. So I asked. “I thought I’d done a great audition – I would love some constructive criticism.” The response I received was that I was too fat and old to even imagine casting me in the role I auditioned for (for community theater, mind you!) and that I should never, ever, tell a director that I felt I’d done a great audition again, because it was arrogant and presumptuous and implied that I was questioning his judgement.

      It really was my LAST audition, because my life is full of other things that are wonderful, and I don’t need that kind of feedback.

      I hope this won’t be Wil’s last audition, because I agree that he’s a wonderful human being and a good actor who gets better every time, but I also caution against asking, “Why not Wheaton?’ because sometimes directors take it personally when you want to know why.

      1. Hi, Tabby! Sorry for my way delayed response – I’m not the best at keeping up with threads!

        You have a good point. If only we lived in a perfect world where no one would take things personally. Unfortunately, far too many of us do, and we never know what will set someone else off.

        I’m really glad to hear your life is full of other things that are wonderful! The world needs more people whose lives are full of wonderful things. :)

        Wishing you all the best!

  6. Wil, keep trying. I know it sucks, but you have our support. You’re an amazing actor and it’s a shame those a-holes or that “WOW” producer doesn’t realize it. You have our support. Keep at it!

  7. I’m really sorry, Wil. That sucks. I’m no actor, but I know that feeling of professional rejection. It sucks. I’m sorry. (I feel like I should have more to say.)

  8. You have to think of it this way: if you find it got easy, it’s because you stopped caring. You’ll always beat yourself up over things you give half a shit about than the stuff you don’t.

  9. Sorry to hear that Wil. I know a little bit how you feel, as I once totally bombed out of a Miller beer commercial. Not that I was sure I really wanted it, but still everyone wants it to be their own decision not someone else’s.
    But as I told myself after getting laid off from two different engineering careers – every door closing is a prelude to another door opening. If it wasn’t this project, it will be another one.

    1. Wil, I’m pretty sure that JOHN frickin’ PALMER just told you that you should forget this acting stuff and brew beer for a living! Ok, maybe I’m reading between the lines here.

      We all love the stuff that you create. Don’t question your abilities because the auditions aren’t turning into roles. The whole process sounds so subjective that it seems like you could nail it, leave them crying, and still not get the part because one of the CDs think your eyes are too far apart. It sucks, but it is so far out of your control to be ridiculous.

  10. It is frustrating not getting what you’re chasing after, but moreso when you don’t even know why you couldn’t get there. Hang in there and try not to overanalyze your performance.

  11. I’m a teacher, and it’s the same for me. Once, when asked in an interview to teach English at the Beijing Fashion Academy, “Are you patient?” I blurted out, “With the students.” They never called me back. At the same time, I was getting calls from a number of other smaller schools to teach, and I was able to pick the schedule that I wanted. You are not alone in your feelings. I, too, totally suck at interviews; however, once I am in the classroom, that’s what matters to me.

  12. I KNOW MATH IS HARD, AND BATTING AVERAGES CONFUSE ME SO DO LOTS OF COLORS AND NOISES OMG SHUT UP, BUT AFTER YOU ALLOW YOURSELF TO FEEL A BIT BUMMED OUT ABOUT IT (it is ok to feel this way) DON’T GIVE UP!!!! That is all, carry on, and remember, you never wore the red shirt, so the odds are in your favor, regardless.

  13. Wait, though — isn’t the math for acting completely ridiculous? Like one job for a thousand people who want it? Anyone who’s job hunting goes through the same, “damn, sent my resume to 100 people, three of them bothered to take the time to say no” because that’s just how the math works. And if you start thinking, “it’s because I’m just not good enough,” you’re basically ignoring the math that says MOST PEOPLE AREN”T. Most people don’t get the job. Really. 99% of us don’t get the job. With acting, it’s probably more like 99.99% of us. So give yourself a break. It’s okay to feel disappointed, but not getting a job isn’t a reflection on you. You? are awesome.

  14. I don’t think there’s an actor alive who doesn’t go through this. And again. And again and again and again. This is a big part of why being an actor is so hard. I love seeing you on screen. I also love reading what you write, and what you tweet and what you blog and what you post on facebook. I don’t think anyone can say anything to you that doesn’t amount to what you already know, which is “That’s their loss. This is the game. Get back on that horse. Your role is waiting for you.”

    You’ve already had many fantastic roles. You know they’re out there for you, and that you can do them. Be patient. Be brave. But, most of all, be Not At Home to Self Doubt. Because it’s a waste of your time and energy.

    But, that’s easy for me to say. I dropped acting like a hot rock and went into costume design. 😉

  15. So I have zero experience auditioning for an acting gig, but a couple of years ago I went through a six month period of combing five different job sources, applying for everything I was vaguely qualified for and ultimately going to a ton of interviews before finally landing the job I’m currently in. During the process I began to realize some things:

    1. My resume and cover letter remained fundamentally constant, although I wrote a unique letter for each application and made sure my resume emphasized the skills most relevant to each post.
    2. My overall technique, manner, dress, personality remained essentially the same for each interview.
    3. In each interview but one, I could tell that the person interviewing me wasn’t really interested in me or the interview. The one where the people seemed genuinely interested in me and the process is the job I eventually landed.

    I’ve thought about it as objectively as I can and I honestly don’t think I did anything different for the job I did get: essentially the same resume; same basic cover letter written for the position; same bright attentive personality in the interview; same style of answering their questions; same set of my own worried-over questions back. As best as I can tell, I literally did not do anything different or better and yet I got this one particular job.

    Or put another way, I didn’t do anything different or worse in all the other interviews I attended, and I didn’t get any of those other jobs.

    I think what happens is, when the interviewers have already decided who they want, or what type of person they want, then even if they interview 100 people that day, they’re not going to pick any of them save for the one(s) they’ve already decided on. But they still do all the other interviews “just in case” someone surprises them or somehow stands out. But if you don’t fit their preconceived ideas, then you’re not going to stand out.

    It’s kind of rude of the interviewers to not realize this and get everyone’s hopes up falsely.

    1. It’s good to read your experience.
      As I am both a performer and IT professional so I had my fair share of audience but also “job”/”project” interviews; I work as a freelance IT professional because I could not live comfortably from only my art and leaving going on holidays to different continents, my hobbies or being able to finance exploration into my art is too important for me.

      To me job interviews are very easy and transparent. The people who have the job-opening have a pretty obvious problem and idea who can solve it. They ask for distinctive and proof-able skills. With that knowledge you can pretty easily sell yourself!!!
      I have the advantage that when I worked for a company I was head of development and I did a lot of the interviews and recently for this project I am working at we were asked to review resumes too.
      Basically I looked whether this person on paper was able to pick up the task and do it with the least amount of assistance. Even if they don’t have specific knowledge, the answers that showed me that they knew where to find that information or how to obtain it were just as (if not more) satisfactory to me. I only wanted to “feel” that they could take a part of the burden from our shoulders.

      The real difficulty in job-hunting is getting past the “paper-stage” –resumes and cover letters. As soon as you are invited then they see something in you!!!
      Otherwise we don’t take the time, to talk to you!!!
      Unlike open auditions…
      So please remember that as soon as you are invited for an interview! What you have in your resume or cover letter triggered something in the people recruiting to invite you and spend their precious time on you!

      Then it’s a matter to sell what they are looking for and be remember-able.
      Also be curious and dare to ask questions! People that did not ask a single question to us, were not considered by us! Even non-interesting questions such as: “You manage the xyz department, right? I’ve read on your website that the vision of this company is abc. Which strategy did you choose to achieve this vision? And if it may hopefully come this far, how do you see me fit in your strategy of ?” *This is very sneaky, it’s a psychological ploy called future pacing and seeding a thought. If they like you then they allow themselves to think about this thus strengthening a memory of you. Hence increasing your odds of being chosen when it comes down to only a few people.
      Also questions such as: “What is the main difficulty for you at this stage?”
      Listen and answer: “Oh interesting! Did you try XYZ?” It demonstrates that you want to solve their problem and yet you seemingly (at this stage) leave them in control. People love take charge people as long as you don’t push them off their throne!

      In auditions however, like Wil suggested there’s no hint as to what the casting director is looking for. Often (especially those frustrating open auditions) you don’t even know the part by forehand and you get a sheet of A4 paper (okay in the US it’s letter format) and they say: “In this scene, you just had an argument with your spouse and you complain about it to your friend! Go ahead”. As an actor that is not a lot to gone! I don’t know what the relationship is between those two characters. I don’t know how long they’ve been together. I don’t know what sort of a friend it is that I complain to.
      In auditions these sort of questions (unlike a job interview) are seen as uncalled for and rude! Often an impatient: “Just do it!”
      Even worse the casting director already has a very clear physical picture of the type of person they want! And especially in big budget Hollywood flicks looks are more important than content and skill (at least I think).
      Hollywood has become a sort of Prometheus… Bladerunner was AWESOME it was character and story driven! So when Ridley Scott went back to his SciFi roots I was excited beyond believe…. and their I sat wondering who wrote this screenplay, where they EFF they get such dumbass astronauts from. However they were all lookers! And the (digital) set extensions in that movie breath taking! But to me it was like a good like cake of which you only get to lick the icing. Where the cake in reality is the sum of all the things!

  16. Wil, I’m sorry. I can feel an approximate of your self doubt, I too am currently feeling the “but what did I do wrong!” And ” don’t you know I have a family!” I’ve been unemployed since the space shuttle program ended and trying to find an identity in the post-US space program period has been trying for my me and my family. Keep fighting the googly eyed fight!

  17. As you mentioned in your other post, your choice for the character was noticed. You may not have landed this role, but you may have made a really good impression for the next role they’re trying to cast. You did your best, and as the song says; ‘breathe in, breathe out, move on’.

  18. Nuts, I can’t find that article. There was this little blog entry or write-up by a producer talking about just how much of a struggle an actor/actress had to go through and deal with from auditioning versus hundreds if not thousands to being dropped for a variety of reasons nowhere near related to their abilities as actors. I think Felicia Day even posted the link on twitter ages ago.

    Anyway, to sort of sum it up, it often has nothing to do with how you performed in the audition. It’s more likely just because they’re looking for a specific look, personality, whatever and you just didn’t fit it. Maybe they didn’t think you were nerdy enough or bearded enough or whatever stupid idea comes into their heads.

    To be honest, I think, as depressing as it is (kind of like having to constantly interview and those are worse than what you’re going through with auditions if only because more often than not, the company won’t even bother to tell you they hired someone else and aren’t interested in you), as long as you’re just true to your craft and line up your personality as close as you can to the character, you’re doing fine. It’s not you that’s failing to land those gigs, its the producers/casting agents/directors who are failing to connect the dots and realize you could actually fit. Or worse, they’re looking for 20-something, nasal snorting, stereotypical geek because they don’t really know they’ve got a real one right in front of them. :)

  19. OK, I’m not sure how to put this but…

    Maybe it isn’t that you suck at acting or auditions (honestly, I cannot imagine that you are that bad at any of it). Maybe some of it is simply the (bad) luck of the draw.

    If you are auditioning, then so are a lot of other people. And maybe you are great, fantastic, wonderful, but someone beat you out by a nose. There is no second prize for these things, you just get to go home and do it again another day.
    When you get called up because someone wants to work with you specifically, it is because they have considered other people – maybe they have even auditioned other people – and they think you are the perfect one this time. And then someone else is sitting at home, bummed, because they were great in the audition – but they aren’t you.

    (The other possibility of course is that you are wearing those heels because you are auditioning for ‘blonde hooker #2′ – and I hate to break this to you, Wil, but you aren’t ever going to get that part. Maybe try a brunette, m’kay?)

  20. This is more of a production-side question, but could production companies do some amount of casting for a role even if they have someone already in the pocket, perhaps as a requirement for funding sources or union regs or if there’s some non-disclosure about the actor? I’m not sure how these things work in the acting world, but it’s certainly not unusual in other businesses to explore options for new suppliers even if there’s a preferred source.

    In any case, you’re up one RFB and two blog posts today, which is good stuff.

    1. Yes, that often happens. Also, the casting director can have an instruction like, “Must be 5’10 and have blue eyes” that doesn’t always get into the audition listing. But, mostly, there are a hundred actors for every job, and being an actor is a life of constant rejection, and it completely and utterly sucks. And having the emotional armour to keep bouncing back is a rare gift; more rare than talent or desire. I once sat in a hallway for two hours waiting for an audition I had prepared for for days and when I walked in the door the C.D. said, “Too tall. Too over-developed. NEXT!” and that was it. Some actors really just enjoy the process of auditioning, for its own sake, but, of course, without even any feedback, that can be hard to maintain.

  21. As a fellow actor, I feel my soul crushed on your behalf. I _know_ that feeling, and it sucks. So many times I’ve wanted to take my ball and go home and just give it up and yet I know that I never will or could because it is why I am here and what fulfills me and makes me happier than anything. I know that you have perspective and know how lucky and blessed you really are but I also know that doesn’t make that feeling go away. Here’s to the next awesome thing you do that makes you smile and fulfills you.

    On your behalf I scream, “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!”

  22. Let me say in different words what several other commenters here have said, and which we know that you already know: you can give the most fantastic audition ever, nail the character, even make the producers tell you that you “got it” and STILL not get the job for the most mundane, arbitrary, stupid reasons. It doesn’t mean that you suck at auditions; it sounds to me like you did the opposite of suck on this one. It just means that there was some other reason why some other actor got picked. Look at it from the other side: there have probably been situations where you got the part even though someone else gave their best ever audition. They liked your eye color better; you were just a bit taller/shorter/whatever; and that’s what they wanted. You were “the guy” at that time. All of this doesn’t make the hurt of not being cast any easier to take. But you do yourself a disservice by thinking that you are no good at auditions. If that were true, you wouldn’t even get the invitation to audition in the first place. Not that I’m telling you anything that you don’t already know. Hang tough, have a homebrew, and go nail the next audition. The rest is in the hands of the Casting Fates.

  23. I was watching some Hulu in another window, working my way through a season 4 of one of my favorite crime shows, just starting a new episode, when I paused the video to stop and read this post. Then I went back to watching my show, clicked play, and you, Wil Wheaton, walked onto my screen in your guest appearance on “Numb3rs”. Total coincidence on the timing but it tells me that you ARE working and you have been working very reliably for years now, with far greater success at landing recurring roles than many other contemporary actors. Plus, I can’t help noticing that you never appear in anything that I wouldn’t want to watch even if you weren’t in it and that tells me that you’re only looking for roles in productions that you feel really are worthwhile. Maybe what’s keeping you from getting more roles is your integrity. If so, it’s worth it.

  24. Hi Wil,
    I wanted to respond in more than the characters on twitter allows. Unfortunately, there is nothing I (random internet stranger) or your family can do to change your mind on how you feel. I got through the same roller-coaster on job interviews for Graphic Design. And it sucks when they don’t pick you because your’re like, I fit the qualifications (the role), I kicked ass in the interview (audition), and a few days later I get a email or a call saying I’m not the right fit with no explanation. I call them, FOAD letters/emails “fuck of and die.” There is nothing I can say to fix it, because I’m still trying to get through my roller coaster, but just wanted to let you know you’re not alone and your family, friends, and internet strangers are all rooting for you and care about you. Good luck!

  25. Granted I have no acting experience but I wouldn’t think it would get any easier. Any rejection is a hard thing and I imagine it to be even worse for an actor, who is judged on a very personal level. As time goes on and you pour more of yourself into your passion/career it might be worse.

    But there are good times too, lots of them, and a lot of people who care about you. So don’t feel bad about feeling bad, but remember it will pass. :)

    Thinking good thoughts your way,

  26. I’m so sorry, Wil.

    But let me encourage you with this:
    We all freaking love you, man. Genuinely. You have a fanbase of rabid Wheatonites who love everything you do. And we love what you do not only because it’s brilliant, but because you made it. You have an army of people rooting for you, supporting you, and believing in you. One audition doesn’t change that, and one thousand auditions wouldn’t change that.

    So keep being Wil (read: awesome) and we’ll keep cheering for you. We’ll keep on watching, reading, and listening to everything you put out there. And, of course, we’ll continue avoiding dickishness at all costs!

  27. Look man, this is what they call a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you keep telling yourself you stink at auditions, you’re gonna fall on your face every time you do one. So you have to knock that nonsense off right now, and know your worth, man. When you get up in the morning on the day of an audition, look in the mirror, remember Homer’s assistant Karl, and yell to the Heavens, “I am nature’s greatest miracle!!” When you’re on your way to the audition, listen to the pump-up music of your choice. People’s tastes vary–some folks are into the Rocky, Bill Conti/Survivor thing, some people are more into the metal d’oeuvre, find your sound and crank it up. Next, when you walk up, take a minute before you walk into the room, and remember Bret “The Hitman” Hart, and say to yourself, “I am the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be!” Finally, before you speak, whether you’re answering a question, or you have something of your own to say, never forget Unky Herb. Always say to yourself, “If I was ever sure of anything, I’m sure of this!!” and then speak your words.

    It’s all in the mentality, man. If you will it, it is no dream. Most importantly of all, remember Dr. Frankenstein, and remember to accept your successes–as well as your failures–with quiet dignity and grace. (And do a better job of it than he did, if you can.)

    Remember. You’re a fucking Beretta.
    They believe every fucking word.
    ‘Cause you’re super cool.

  28. I noticed the word suck in a lot of the comments. It is true, rejection is sucktastic. Whether you wanted to be the one rejecting them or you were batting your real or metaphorical eyelashes at them. You’re still a prize fish in that acting sea. Maybe some other also amazing actor needed that shot, maybe it was a sinking ship, or maybe something else will come up tomorrow . Dating, grad school, jobs, gigs…it all comes out the same in the end. We just want to sing out to them “I want you to want me!”

  29. So sorry for your pain, but the self doubt is unwarranted. You are a good person, a good father and a good husband. Many of us enjoy your acting and creative endeavors. I only recently have seen your writing, but as an avid reader I see real promise. I am in management and interview and hire people and it’s tough. The ones I couldn’t hire weren’t flawed, there just was only one job. The right roles are down the road, you’ll get to them. And hey, I’ll buy your novel, so get to writing!

  30. if you haven’t already been doing this, maybe work with a coach to find your weak areas and strengthen them. neil peart, arguably the greatest drummer alive, studied under another drummer relatively recently to grow beyond what he was before.

    regardless of that unsolicited “advice,” just know that your work is very appreciated by a ton of people, and if you could have one tiny fraction of the confidence in yourself with auditions that your fans do, you’d never have another moment of doubt.

    what you do brings great value to the world, touching countless people on all different levels. on top of your family, you’ve got this incredible set of gifts that you use to contribute to the sum of humanity’s good things, and you do it in spades. it’s always a let down to not get something you want badly and feel you’d kick ass at. i hope you enjoyed the americans and are feeling better about things.

    (and don’t feel weird sharing this spell of self-doubt with the public–it helps the rest of us feel more connected through a shared experience, regardless of the form it has taken for each of us.

  31. Wil, there is nothing worse than being told, one way or another, that you’re not good enough and I am sorry you still have to deal with that after proving yourself as often as you have in your life and career. I’ve never commented here before (or maybe I did and forgot: but it’s been a while): but I want to share something I picked up from a pretty inspiring guy: “Failing at one thing does not mean you fail at all things and that’s the end of it.” That quote led me down a rabbit hold of quotes and inspiration that has me feeling pretty darn good (and terrified) about a job interview I have in roughly 12 hours.

    As someone who has routinely been told “Theres nothing I would change…” in response to feedback requests from job interviews, I know how hard it can be too walk away feeling great, then getting told no. It sucks. Hard… I’m going to “pivot” this a little here…

    Wil: You are an inspiration to me. I’ve been reading your blog since probably around 2004, and I’ve been a fan since I was much, much younger. Wesley was, seriously, my favorite character in TNG and I never noticed the sweaters. I identified with the slightly-outcast, pretty nerdy, frequently told to shut-it kid on the spaceship (only, the spaceship I was on was only in my head) and then post Y2K I identified with your inspiringly honest and… … real sharing of you life. The way you are willing to open yourself up is inspiring and I want to thank you for it. You’ve helped me see things and learn things about myself I don’t know I would have without you…

    Thank you for sharing your life the way you do, and I am *so* sorry that you didn’t get to the next step for that part. I’ve got a job interview tomorrow and, if it’s anything like the last handfull, it’s going to be the retail-promotion-interview equivelant of your audition… but I know you’ve kept going to auditions over the last 10 years it seems to not be clicking, and knowing that someone I admire, someone that inspires me, struggles with similar try/try-again issues really does help me out a lot.

    Thank you, and I’m sorry — they’re missing out.


  32. This is a book from an acquaintance of mine, Andy Nyman . He is an influential mentalist and that’s how I know him but he always says that acting is his real job and passion. I guess he does Derren Brown productions merely for fun on the side 😀
    Andy wrote this awesome little book:

    Luckily these days I have my own corporate show and I sell it myself no agents (so I only do those gigs I know my show is perfect for and I know I like performing — luxury when you also have an IT company) so I hardly do any formal auditions anymore *sigh of relieve, I HATED THAT PROCESS*

    I did one formal audition for a variety act on a ferry liner 2 years ago and that was the only cool formal audition. I even learned a few things there too! We started of with 15 or so performers with all sorts of different acts and we even saw each other’s acts!
    Then the first 10 were send off the remaining 5 had to do a second act.
    Then me and this awesome HOT jazz singer remained. We both had to do another act.
    They had 4 specialists, a stage director, a choreographer, a comic and a singer. The choreographer said: “You don’t move very pretty, you move like a builder…” — “I smiled and said thank you, and I know and you are right… It’s 220 pounds that I need to move and it has the momentum of an oil tanker. Last time since I did a dance class was when I was 17 and weighed 110 pounds.”
    The director: “But in his act that’s not an issue! he uses the stage perfectly, and I feel involved even though I am not part of it! The only thing I am not yet sure of, is that it’s suited for a bar environment. We need to sell drinks and people need to be able to sit back without being concentrated. Yet it’s very intriguing.”
    The comic gave some great tips for my humor tag lines in my act, to make them appeal for a bigger audience or how to accentuate certain words more — I mainly work corporate events so my humor is sexually suggestive but often not accessible for *I hate that word* lower classes.
    So even though I did not get the job. Having seen and heard this Jazz lady sing (and having been a musician for 7 years I know what good music is) and the fact that the importance was to keep guests buying drinks in the cocktail bar and keep them there as long as possible. I felt really good about their decision. And thankful for their awesome feedback — it really was a two way process. I had never seen that before.
    But that’s the difference of an audition with 15 invited pre-selected performers and with 150, 1500 and sometimes 15000 people.

  33. I’ve been looking for one of those “real jobs” you mentioned before for over three years, with no success. It can be really crushing to hear no over and over, or worse, not hear no, and hear nothing at all. I think the real test is to keep going after hearing all the nos, and nothing at alls, in hopes you’ll eventually hear a yes.

  34. And yet, you are successful. Wildly so, by nearly any standard you care to apply. Professionally you are loved by so many people that you have a unit of measure named after you. You have movie and television credits that other actors would kill for. In fact, you’ve done a staggering amount of work that anyone would be proud of: acting, writing, narration.

    Outside of that? Your family is amazing, your friends are delightful, and even strangers on the internet are there for you when you feel down.

    This rejection, this failure, can never take any of that away from you. If it stings, it’s only that. A sting.

    Looking back on your life, when was the road ever not uphill and rocky? And when were you ever not proud of looking back at the miles of it behind you, knowing that you crossed every inch and never once stopped moving?

    It’s just one more obstacle that couldn’t make you quit.

  35. I am really looking forward to Memories of the Future Part 2. I would like to read your novel (I think you could do something great for a YA audience – your style is so accessible). I miss Memories of the Futurecast and Radio Free Burrito. So, although I enjoy seeing you on TV (or on DVD usually) and think that it sucks that you did not get the part, I am kind of glad that you won’t be working full time on a major TV series that would limit the time you could spend in other media. Does that make me sound like an insensitive, selfish jerk? Another thought; maybe you could adapt your story “The Trade” as a picture book with your hijinks ensue friend? I would love to see that on reading rainbow!

  36. Must be going around. Hubby interviewed for a job he really wanted recently and just found out he didn’t get it. Very bad night here. I can’t help him when he’s like this. I understand the feeling, though, as I’ve been there, too. It just sucks. I’m sorry you have to go through it. Sigh.

    But this too shall pass, for both of you. It’s okay to be sad and defeated now, but pick up your head tomorrow and fight on. Or perhaps the next day or the day after that, but eventually, go on.

  37. I’m not an actor. But I DO know what it’s like to go to a job interview where you are pretty certain you are the right person for the job – only to not get a call back. It’s absolutely deflating. Makes you second guess yourself.
    But you know what, all you can do is be yourself and do the best you can. If others can’t see what you are offering, then they miss out. Sounds a bit contrite but it’s true. For the record, since that particuarly deflating job interview, several interviews later, I finally found a job which I enjoy, and who are totally in awe of my experience and talents. It just took longer than I had hoped.
    You are a totally talented and awesome person. Many, many, MANY people see that in you already. You WILL some day soon find the PERFECT role for you that turns you back into a mainstream star. Believe in yourself. Because we (as in those who follow you online) – all do.

  38. I do not act anymore, and I never acted professionally, but I definitely remember that elated “I nailed it!” feeling after a great audition for the perfect part and the crush of not getting the role. That is the WORST feeling of rejection, and self-doubt always follows. Thankfully it is temporarily, which is hard to hold onto at the moment.

    I know your friends and family will be giving support and advice as you need it, but as an audience I wanted to say you are great on stage, and your writing is amazing! You already know it always gets better – everything you write and say speaks to this; it is part of your immense talent.

  39. “I know I’m a decent actor, but I think maybe I’m just horrible at auditions.”
    “I know I’m an actor, but I think maybe I’m just horrible at auditions.”
    “I know I’m an actor, but I audition.”
    “I know I’m an actor, I audition.”
    “I’m an actor, I audition.”
    “I audition.”


    (I can’t wait to see you on whatever screen I see you on next.)

  40. Hey Wil, I saw your comment on Twitter earlier about competent acting. Read this.

    I want you to know something, which might not help, but who knows?

    I just got done re-listening to Ready Player One and heard 16 hours of one guy portraying every role and the narrative exposition as if that wasn’t enough.

  41. Wil…. I have loved your work since Stand By Me. You’re the reason I started watching TNG (although I kept watching after you left because, well, TNG). You’re a good actor. My sons (8 & 16) are second generation Wil Wheaton fans! How cool is that?? So it’s definitely NOT your acting.

    I wondered, do you have any friends or acquaintances who work in casting? And would be willing to critique you in an audition situation? I know for me, as a designer, honest critique can be priceless, and if you’re not getting that as an actor, then you can’t improve upon your craft. I’m guessing you’ve already thought of this, but if not, it’s something to consider.

    Love you, AND your work!

  42. All I can add is this, Wil. You ARE a great actor. I’ve been happy with everything I’ve seen you do. Maybe, like you said, there was another reason besides your ability to audition (height, weight, voice, whatever), that kept you from hearing back on this. I will make a point to watch whatever shows I can that you participate in, and I know that literally MILLIONS of other people feel the same way. You have as much if not more of a following of people who love you, than anyone else in the business. We don’t follow you to see how you’ll screw up next, the way most famous people get their publicity, we follow you because you’re you. The End.

  43. Wil, this entry inspired me today to send out an essay that has been rejected several times, to give it yet another chance out in the big world. Failure is part of the creative life, just like you wrote recently, and sometimes what we don’t get (like this part) overshadows what we have accomplished (like your Super Bowl commercial, or BBT, or JoCo, etc etc). We hurt and we feel wounded and we wonder why we do this. And then we rediscover just how resilient and determined we can be, and renew our faith that better things are always over the horizon.

  44. We all have to deal with this at some point. It doesn’t mean you’re not good enough! It just means the people interviewing/auditioning didn’t see what was good about you. Chin up, Wil! Can’t wait to see you at MegaCon.

  45. I hate when I just want to say the right thing to make something better but can’t find the right words. I mean, I could sincerely talk about how awesome you are at the many things you do, but that’s the thing about self-doubt.

    It comes from within. No matter how loud the “you’re awesome” voices are, that inside voice seems to have a way of breaking through.

    I know the feeling so well. How one moment you can feel so sure of something you’ve done – then the next find yourself questioning everything.

    From your post prior to this one, it sounds like you truly did rock it. But, from the tiny bit I understand of the world of auditions and casting, sometimes choices are made that don’t make sense.

    I don’t know why it made me think of this, but I remember listening to an actor talk about an audition he walked into where he delivered his performance (one he felt good about) and the casting people told him it was great, but could he do it again and just “make a different choice”. No direction, just do it again. Differently. So he took off his shoes, put them in their lap, and did the audition again exactly the same.

    I think, if I remember correctly, the point he was making is how in these situations some of these people don’t really know what they want (or more bluntly, what they are doing). Or they make choices they think they should make. Given some of the stuff I see on TV, whatever the reasons behind it, bad choices are being made.

    Passing on you is definitely one of them.

  46. I’m so sorry you had this experience – and that it feels like one you keep having. I’m no actor – or anything else associated with the business. But I believe that maybe it is worth it to do these auditions – even if you’re not seeing direct results. I can’t help but wonder if some of those jobs you are offered, where you do such an amazing, kick-ass job – have some relation to those auditions? Like, Wil’s not our guy for this one, they say at the time, but they remember the performance you gave, and your attitude, and your self just shining through, and they call on that when they are looking for someone in the future. I couldn’t speak to why you’re not getting the parts, man, but I can’t believe it’s because your work isn’t fantastic – I have seen your work, and heard it. I’ve been moved to laughter and tears. And I know from this blog that you pour your whole heart into each project, and that every team is so much the better for having you in it.

    I’m really sorry it feels so terrible. I hope that all of the great work you have done, and all of the excitement about the things you will do in the future, can come back soon and help shore you up. Hang in there.

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