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Big Break Stories from Big Stars

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Every actor is looking for their “big break.”  But what does this mean, exactly?  Stars share there “big break” stories and what it means to “make it” in entertainment.

Nicole Kidman was 15 when she landed “To Die For.”  The superstar said, “I kind of got antsy and was like, ‘Gosh I wish I had something, like a great character like I had in Australia when I was young and when I was, like, 15.  And then ‘To Die For’ came along.  But no one thought I could do it and I think the studio didn’t want me and it sort of went through another bunch of actors.  [I called director Gus Van Sant and] I said, ‘Please, give me the chance.  I beg you.’  Because the writing was so strong.”  It worked.

Natalie Portman was given an awesome second chance, proving sometimes it’s all about who you know.  She recalled, “Everyone thought I was a horrible actress…no director wanted to work with me.  Mike [Nichols] wrote a letter to Anthony Minghella and said, ‘Put her in Cold Mountain, I vouch for her.’  And then Anthony passed me on to Tom Tykwer, who passed me on to the Wachowskis.”  The rest is history.

Brian d’Arcy James of “13 Reasons Why” said, “It depends on how you define ‘big break.’  There was a break for me that was really important for me…I had two big musicals under my belt and I really wanted to try to be in a play because I wanted to do plays as much as I wanted to do musicals.  I auditioned for a play called ‘Public Enemy.’  I’ll never forget what [casting director Laura Richin] said: ‘Sometimes musical theater performers can be pigeonholed.’  But she contended that people who are musical have a great understanding of rhythm, a great understanding of dialect, they can just hear things in a way.  And she allowed me to come in and audition and get that play that I wanted to do.”

Michelle Gomez of the “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” said, “I wasn’t getting any roles; I hadn’t grown into my face yet.  I hadn’t grown into who I was and what I had to offer yet.  I was kind of weird looking and I had a bad attitude…One casting director saw something for me.  I went out for a one-line role in a show called ‘Green Wing,’ and I ended up being featured and I found my way in that show.”

Dominic West of “The Affair” took a risk with his audition tape that paid off big time.  He said, “They were looking for someone to play McNulty, the lead [in ‘The Wire’], and they were down to their last two weeks before the pilot was due to shoot.  And I sent a funny tape in – it was funny because I was reading on my own and pretending to listen to answers that weren’t on the tape.  And they thought it was so funny they flew me over to meet them.”

In an industry that’s all about networking and taking chances, catching a big break means getting out there and standing out from the crowd.  These actors are proof that your dreams can become reality!

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