The internet has been absolutely living for Matthew McCaunaghey’ s decades old audition tape for Dazed and Confused. The clip has been riding high on our YouTube Daily Top 20 for several days. Today he’s one of the biggest names in Hollywood and tipped to clean up at award season, but twenty years ago he was just another aspiring actor auditioning for Richard Linklater’s coming of age stoner comedy. That got us thinking, YouTube is a treasure trove of before-they-were-famous footage. Check out our 12 favorite celebrity audition tapes.
Back in 2010 Emma Stone wasn’t exactly unknown. She’d done her share of Disney shows and turned in small but memorable roles in movies like Superbad, Zombieland, and Ghosts of Girlfriend’s Past, but that didn’t stop her from putting together this homemade audition video for the role of Olive in Easy A, the movie that would make her a star. The video makes it easy to see how she landed the role and makes us wish she’d at least consider a vlogging career of her own.
Aaron Paul had a long career of small parts before he landed the role of Jessie Pinkman on AMC’s Breaking Bad. Now he’s a bonafide TV star complete with his own catchphrase (B*tch!) and a seemingly unending bromance with co-star Bryan Cranston. Paul’s portrayal of an abrasive but ultimately endearing addict in this audition clip quite literally changed his life.
The cast of The Office is probably one of the most iconic ensembles in recent TV history. It’s almost impossible to imagine the show without Steve Carell, John Krasinski, and Rainn Wilson. Check out this tape featuring future stars like Seth Rogen, John Cho, Eric Stonestreet, and Ana Gasteyey, and Judah Friedlander auditioning for the roles of Michael, Dwight, Jim and Pam.
Before she was whatever she is now, 11-year-old Selena Gomez was an aspiring young actress chasing a spot on Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place. She ultimately earned the spot, which turned her into a tween sensation, launched her eventual music career, and lead to her on-and-off relationship with Justin Bieber. All things considered maybe it would have been better if she hadn’t landed the part.
Before she brought a whole generation to tears opposite Ryan Gosling in The Notebook, Rachel McAdams had to convince filmmakers that there was more to her than Regina George. Watch how easily Rachel can shake off the b*tchy prom queen and turn into someone more sensitive.
Before she was a sultry if somewhat gummy pop superstar, Miley Cyrus was the adorable if somewhat gummy celebrity offspring of Billy Ray Cyrus. The Miley of today is a far cry from the eleven year old featured in this tape but Hannah Montana is where it all started.
We recently congratulated YouTube blue singer Noah Guthrie for landing a spot on the sixth and final season of Glee. We think he’d probably appreciate this clip of a then-unknown Lea Michelle clinching the role of Rachel Berry.
Before he was the host of The Tonight Show and YouTube’s favorite late night host, Jimmy Fallon was a stand-up comic and improv guy looking for his big break. Like many comedy icons before him, he got that break when he earned a spot on the cast of Saturday Night Live with this appropriately goofy audition.
The 90’s reboot of The Mickey Mouse Club gave us Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguiliera, and of course Ryan Gosling. Today Justin is best known for his musical skills, but back in the day Ryan was quit the vocalist himself. Check out this audition performance that helped him land the role.
Before she was a scary dead-eyed actress playing every female action hero in Hollywood, Scarlett Johanssen was just a scary dead eyed child actor 100x more terrifying than any cyborg, super spy, or telekinetic genius she’s ever played.
It’s always great when the audition pairings match the actual casting. The team behind Cinderella Story must have been pretty sure about Hillary Duff and Chad Michael Mudface to cast them based on this this audition.
Finally, because no list of anything is complete without a reference to Buffy, here’s Alyson Hannigan auditioning for American Pie with her most memorable scene.