Acting : What happens when an actor drops out... by Ben Webber

Ben Webber

What happens when an actor drops out...

Urgh, I've been really looking forward to putting on a a production this weekend. It's my first show in London, the result of winning a venue competition. Suddenly, one of my actors has to drop out, saying that he wants to focus on upcoming auditions, and that he's concerned the play will impact them. BTW we're only having a maximum on 2 rehearsals and 3 performances! As a result, I had to edit the script, remove a character completely, and actually fill in for this role as the performance is THIS WEEKEND! I know, in the grand scale of things, this is petty, but it really grinds my gears. I just wanted to know, has anyone (actors, directors, producers) dropped out of your production> If so, how did you deal with it?

Ellecina Eck

I can relate, Ben. Last summer, I cast an actor for my short film. 10 days before we were to begin filming, he emailed me, saying he couldn't make it. (Granted, he had a very good reason: he was in an accident, and his car was rendered useless.) So I called the actor that was my second pick, and he was a wonderful guy and a pleasant actor to work with. It stressed me out, yes, but things worked out for the better. In your case, though, and without knowing all the details, it seems to me that actor needs to get his priorities straight. Isn't the whole purpose/dream of being an actor to BE IN A PRODUCTION (whether it be a film/tv or a play)????? So he's dropping out of a play to hope he gets a chance at being in another one down the road...? Doesn't make sense. One possible reason he left (just spit-balling, here) is because he wants to maintain his integrity as an actor. Perhaps he feels like the script or character is one he cannot excel in or bring to life. On the other hand, if he's an aspiring/new actor, beggars can't be choosy. In the long haul, you're probably right...not a huge deal, especially if this isn't a huge play or performance, and you were able to fill the role successfully. But that actor burned a bridge, which you will, no doubt, keep in mind if he comes rolling around next time you're casting. Hope the rest of the production goes off without a hitch!

James Breckenridge

Had an actor drop out of a staged reading I had directed.....didn't find out until the very time of performance. I was trained as an actor, knew the part and was forced to take over = We survived. Now, as far as your situation is concerned, it will not benefit you in any way to bad mouth this actor. Word will spread and that person will most likely try to defend themselves by making you look at fault and not understanding of their situation. He/She is obviously unprofessional, unreliable and has no sense of responsibility to you, the cast and others involved. Make a note, take a deep breath and move on.

Vaghasiya Harindra

If it is a stage drama it is not possible,u need to take the place of the dropping actor, but if it is a film(shotted video) competiton i have an idea.

Ken Belsky

Actor should be shot if he's dropping out a day or two before a stage presentation. That's unnacceptable. It's also unnacceptable in film, however there are alot more actors capable of dropping into film shoot schedule as they usually only shoot a few scenes a day, much easier to learn dialogue.

Ben Webber

Thanks for the input guys! Fortunately, the play went off without a hitch and everyone escaped unscathed!

Derrick Judge Early

Hi Ben. First I would like to I'm glad you were able to resolve this issue. From my own experience as an actor/ film maker, dealing with actors can be very difficult. I can usually read if an actor is going to give me a hard time at some point in production. it's when I don't follow my gut I get into trouble. I had so much trouble with actors on my new film a friend told me I should write a book on it. The trick is to trust no one and get them under a contract that is so strict they will be afraid to do anything unprofessional. And I say this because I have seen this happen to other people not just myself. And it's tough when you are filming a project and you already shot footage with that actor that's giving you a hard time. My last project took years instead a few months because of re-shoots. Anyway learn from this and try to work with people you know are going to come through for you. This is why a lot of big name directors use the same actors in one of their films. They know what that actor is going to do on the set and not act like an idiot.

Derrick Judge Early

Frank is right. There was a time something like this was rare but not any more. Unprofessionalism seems to rule the day.

Thomas Bailey

Find someone to replace them. Anyone willing to step into this situation will be beyond dedicated and I can almost guarantee they will end up being easier to deal with, far more dedicated, and almost certainly will end up giving a better performance.

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