Audition Tips from Casting Director Eric Souliere (AMERICAN HORROR STORY, 9-1-1, THE MENTALIST)

Audition Tips from Casting Director Eric Souliere (AMERICAN HORROR STORY, 9-1-1, THE MENTALIST)

Audition Tips from Casting Director Eric Souliere (AMERICAN HORROR STORY, 9-1-1, THE MENTALIST)

Kurt Patino
Kurt Patino
a year ago

Eric Souliere has wanted to be a casting director since he was 11 years old. After growing up in Boston and getting his BFA in Film Studies from Hunter College in New York City, he moved to Los Angeles in February 2005.

After working with Wendy O’Brien, Howard Meltzer, Carol Goldwasser, Sally Stiner, and Barbie Block, Eric began working at Ulrich Dawson Kritzer Casting in May 2006 as the casting assistant to Eric Dawson and Liz Dean on the FX series Nip/Tuck. He was then promoted to Associate Casting Director the following season, and then to Casting Director for the final two seasons of the show.

Over the course of it’s run, Nip/Tuck was nominated for 19 Emmys (including 2 nominations for casting), 5 Golden Globes, and 3 Casting Society of America’s Artios Awards for achievement in casting. Also while at Ulrich Dawson Kritzer, Eric was Associate Casting Director on the first two installments of FX’s American Horror StoryMurder House and Asylum – and Co-Casting Director on the third installment, Coven.

Audition Tips from Casting Director Eric Souliere AMERICAN HORROR STORY 911 THE MENTALIST

Eric was twice nominated alongside Robert Ulrich, Eric Dawson, and Carol Kritzer for a Casting Society of America Artios Award for Outstanding Casting for a Mini-Series or Television Movie for the casting of the first and second seasons of American Horror Story. In 2012, Eric won the Talent Manager’s Association Seymour Heller Award for Outstanding Associate Casting Director, and in 2011, he was named one of Backstage Weekly’s “Top New Casting Directors.”

In January 2014, Eric joined forces with casting director Sara Isaacson to form Isaacson and Souliere Casting. During their four-year partnership, they cast NBC’s State of Affairs, TNT’s Legends, CBS’s The Mentalist, the NBC pilot Warrior, the CW pilot Untitled Kevin Williamson, the Freeform series Famous in Love, the E! series The Arrangement, the Freeform pilot Stay, the Lifetime movies Manson’s Lost Girls and The Real MVP, the pilot and series for MTV’s Scream, NBC’s Midnight Texas, and the Dick Wolf NBC mini-series Law & Order True Crime: Menendez.

In September 2017, Eric re-joined Ulrich Dawson Kritzer Casting as a casting director on the series' American Horror Story and 9-1-1. Below is an interview I had with Eric about how actors can improve their auditions. Eric's answers to my bolded questions are in italics.

Audition Tips from Casting Director Eric Souliere AMERICAN HORROR STORY 911 THE MENTALIST

During callbacks, the auditioning actor may assume he/she is to mirror their look, performance, and demeanor from their pre-read for the Producers session. Should actors assume that, or do Producers look for other criteria that help them make their decisions?

If an actor is asked to come back for a second audition, they should do and wear whatever they did the first time, unless told otherwise. We liked what they did in the initial audition and we want the producers, or whoever is in the room the second time, to see that. If we want the producers to see something different, we will give notes between the first and second audition.

What do you think can empower the actor during the audition process?

We are trying to put a puzzle together, and either the actor is going to be the right fit or not be the right fit. And that thing that makes an actor the right fit is usually something inherent about them that cannot be faked.

This is why it frustrates me when actors compare themselves to other actors and get upset when they see someone similar to their type get cast in a role that they think they should have gotten.

As long as the actor is fully prepared and present in the room, and presents themselves as a human being that we want to support to our producers, the rest is completely out of their control.

What audition tips should actors always follow?

Don’t be overly familiar in the room, keep it professional and efficient. We’re really happy to see you and to have you in, but we’re all there to do our job.

Be mindful of coming across as needy, as wanting validation, or being nervous. All are a turn-off. Also, self-tape deadlines are not arbitrary!

Audition Tips from Casting Director Eric Souliere AMERICAN HORROR STORY 911 THE MENTALIST

All things being equal, what are the deciding factors casting directors look for when setting up actors for their audition sessions?

If we have a limited amount of time to see the role (usually in episodic television), we usually lean towards bringing in actors with whom we are already familiar and have a good idea of what they will deliver. If we have more time to explore, we generally set up a mix of actors with whom we’re already familiar, as well as actors new to our awareness, either from pitches from reps, or interesting-looking submissions.

When setting up actors with whom I’m not previously familiar, the bigger criteria for me are who their reps are, and what their training/theater experience is.

Where do you think is the best place that unrepresented talent can be discovered by casting directors?

Doing theater and making their own content! The best advice I ever received was “do good work and people will notice” and it definitely applies to actors.

What is the best way a talent representative can convince you to meet someone new?

Show me footage of something else they’ve done – either a clip from a show or film; or a recent self-tape they’ve done; or tell me what school they went to; or theater they’ve done! Maybe I’ve seen them in something.

In this day & age, is the headshot still the best marketing tool? If so, what makes an actor’s headshot stand out in your opinion?

Yes, headshots are very useful when I am not familiar with an actor. It just has to look like them…overly photoshopping isn’t helping anyone. I need to get a near-perfect idea of what the actor actually looks like, as to not waste anybody’s time.

Audition Tips from Casting Director Eric Souliere AMERICAN HORROR STORY 911 THE MENTALIST

Have you experienced any creative ways actors have effectively drawn your attention enough for you to give them an audition or general meeting?

“Do good work and people will notice” really applies here! The best way to get my attention is to be amazing in something that I’m watching. “Creative” ways can be gimmicky and often a turn-off. If an actor is overly pushy or aggressive in trying to get my attention (either through mailings or on social media), it makes me nervous to actually meet them in person.

I really only have generals with actors who trusted colleagues refer to me, or if it’s someone unfamiliar I saw in a play, show or film, and I was interested in getting to know them better.

How do veteran actors with strong resumes but no “name” value get on your list to be presented to Producers/Studios/Networks for big roles? In addition, what is the definition of a “name” actor?

A name actor is someone of credible value whom network television audiences will recognize and make them want to tune in every week to watch, as well as excite advertisers. A list of ideas that we would present to producers/studio/network to have included in their project are actors whom would excite everyone.

Veteran actors with strong resumes but no “name” may not be on some of these lists, but those are the folks I get most excited about – they populate the world which we are creating, and it’s even more exciting to see those actors sometimes go from trusted character actors to a name on that list. All it takes is one job to elevate that person, like with what happened with JK Simmons or Ann Dowd.

Audition Tips from Casting Director Eric Souliere AMERICAN HORROR STORY 911 THE MENTALIST

What do you enjoy most about casting?

I love the never-ending process of learning about and meeting new actors, and then being able to use them in my everyday work. Every new show or film or play that I see usually provides me with one or a few new actors that I’ve never seen before, that I get to educate myself on. It’s thrilling. and then being able to track that actor, watch what career choices they make, and follow their path is so exciting to me.

Do you have any other thoughts you want to share with actors?

It’s cliche to say, but casting directors are on your side. We love actors and we want nothing more than for them to succeed. When we find the right fit for a role, it’s a wonderful feeling.

What is the most important thing an actor should remember in their pursuit of becoming successful in this industry?

Be a well-rounded human being. Have other hobbies and have friends outside of the industry. Balance is very important, will keep you grounded, take the pressure off, and make you appreciate the times that you do get to act.

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About the Author

Kurt Patino

Kurt Patino

Manager, Producer

KURT PATINO (Talent Manager, Writer, Producer, Speaker, Podcaster) runs Patino Management Company (PMC), a full service Talent Management firm representing Film/TV actors. In his nearly twenty-five year career as a Talent Representative, Kurt has guided the careers of standout young talent such as R...

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