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Every actor who has ever lived has, undoubtedly, had a few bad auditions during the course of their careers. It’s unlikely, though, that many of those bombed auditions deal with magic tricks. Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul just revealed the story behind his worst audition, and it turns out that that failed attempt at landing a job came directly because of an earlier gig he got working for super producer/director J.J. Abrams.
See, before Aaron Paul became Jesse Pinkman, he landed a small part in J.J. Abrams’ Mission: Impossible III in 2006. The actor had been told by a friend of his who worked with Abrams on Lost that the director loves magic tricks, and, since magic is also a favorite of Paul’s, suggested that he bring up the topic while on set to forge a bond between himself and Abrams. So, Paul did just that, and was then encouraged by Abrams to perform a card trick in front of everyone, including star Tom Cruise. He did, but the trick failed miserably, as Paul had told Abrams that it would, and it led to quite an awkward moment on set, even after he performed another card trick that goes somewhat better for him. Cut to a year or so later, when Paul is about to audition for Abrams’ film Cloverfield. Paul is super prepared, but Abrams is about to throw him a serious curveball.
I walk in and J.J.’s there. He brings up the magic trick story and I lose my train of thought. I have three pages of a monologue that I memorized. That was my audition. He has me tell the story about the card trick and now I’m super awkward. He’s like, ‘Now, let’s get started,’ and I start doing this monologue and I completely lose my train of thought and I stop and I apologize to J.J. He’s like ‘That’s okay. Thanks for coming in.’ I’m like ‘See ya’ and I walked out. It was awful.
Wow. Aaron Paul relayed his story to Tom Hiddleston during the Variety and PBS series Actors on Actors, and it’s pretty obvious that J.J. Abrams totally made Paul tank his Cloverfield audition. It’s pretty damn funny for us, but Paul had to have been humiliated. Why on Earth would Abrams make him relive an embarrassingly awkward moment right before his audition? Paul was understandably thrown off track by the request, and I’m sure having to recount his failed attempt at impressing the director on set just made the whole thing worse for him. The experience was so bad that Paul simply gave up and didn’t even try to start his audition over.
Well, J.J. Abrams, this bomb is on you, my friend. It’s hard to get too mad at him, though. Maybe if Aaron Paul hadn’t blown his Cloverfield audition, his career would have taken an entirely different path and we wouldn’t have gotten a chance to watch his brilliant work on Breaking Bad. At least now all actors know not to bring up magic around Abrams unless they’ve nailed a trick that really wows. Otherwise, it’ll come back to bite them, and possibly cost them a job.