Even great actors have roles that got away.
As part of Variety‘s “Actors On Actors” series, Ryan Reynolds and Taraji P. Henson are sitting down to dish on failed auditions and – eventually – landing the perfect role.
Despite finding mega-success in 2016 with “Deadpool”, Vancouver-born Reynolds admits he wasn’t always at the top of casting directors’ lists.
“I auditioned and failed for the Coen brothers,” he recalls to Henson as the two actors sat down for an informal chat. “It wasn’t the right fit, mostly because they’re very high class. They were just quietly shaking their heads, like, ‘What are you doing here? Do you have a SAG card?'”
Henson, who has become a pop culture phenomenon as Cookie on “Empire”, admits that she too has her share of failed audition stories.
“I auditioned for Shonda Rhimes for ‘Scandal’. Thank God Kerry got it. It was her job,” she says.
“Isn’t it funny how sometimes you think, ‘Wow, someone else got it, and they ran with it, and it was perfect for them,'” Reynolds adds.
“I was never a great auditioner,” he continues. “But I had one where I had to sing, and I’m a nervous singer. I’m one of those people that… you know when you’re in the shower, and you’re like, ‘This is pretty good?’ But once I get out into the real world, it’s just like my voice turns into a hammer that hits everybody in the face. So I did an audition where I had to sing, and it was pretty bad. It’s one of those auditions that was so bad that I look back and I think, ‘What if that tape surfaces at some point? That’ll be the death of me.'”
Reynolds has definitely earned some goodwill in Hollywood in 2016. His “Deadpool” movie is one of the year’s highest-grossing films, thanks in part to Reynolds’ perseverance and 11-year fight to bring the crass-talking mercenary to the big screen.
“I represented the death of the superhero for a while. After ‘Green Lantern’, I was pretty much un-hirable,” he tells Henson. “‘Deadpool’ was one of those things that was just so specific — it was like this weird superhero anarchy that I loved so much. I think I was in the superhero suit more in the marketing materials than I was in the actual film. Which is why I stole the suit at the end of production and just brought it home with me.”
While “Deadpool” may have launched a new franchise for Reynolds, Henson’s latest film, “Hidden Figures” has been earning strong word-of-mouth buzz as a feel-good awards season contender. Henson, who fronts the ensemble drama about a team of African-American women who helped launch NASA’s first successful space mission, is a far cry from her “Empire” character.
“I have a feeling that the hardcore Cookie fans will be like, ‘Look at Cookie playing that rocket scientist!'” she explains.
For the actress, it was all about telling the story of these unsung women behind NASA.
“I read [the script] and I remember thinking to myself, ‘How come I haven’t heard of these women?’ So I made it my mission to do the film,” Henson says. “I didn’t care how much they were paying. I just felt it was an important piece of history that we needed to know about. So then I became very grateful that I was the one chosen to be a part of it.”
“Hidden Figures” hits theatres in January.