Entertainment & Arts

Open Auditions: the way to fame and fortune?

With the news that the BBC is holding open auditions to find new co-hosts for Chris Evans on Top Gear we take a look at a selection of previous high profile open auditions and how the winners fared.


Image copyright Lucasfilm
Image caption The open auditions spanned 11 cities in the UK and US

The upcoming Star Wars film is the most high profile movie franchise to hold open auditions for lead roles.

The filmmakers hosted open auditions in the US and UK as well as accepting online applications, which Top Gear is also doing.

While most of the the lead roles went to established actors, professional free-runner Pip Andersen and US-born Crystal Clarke, who is studying in Glasgow also won parts.

They were chosen from 37,000 hopefuls who attended casting calls held in 11 cities across the UK and US, while a further 30,000 others applied online.

Film producer Kathleen Kennedy said they decided to have open auditions because of the film's tradition of casting unknown actors in the past such as Mark Hamill, albeit through the traditional casting process.

"The Star Wars universe has always been about discovering and nurturing young talent and in casting Episode VII, we wanted to remain absolutely faithful to this tradition," she said.

We will see how they fare when Star Wars: Episode VII is released at Christmas.


Image copyright AFP
Image caption In 2006 thousands queued for hours, some overnight, to audition for the part of Luna Lovegood

Another movie franchise behemoth that has found cast members through open auditions is Harry Potter.

However, they were for secondary characters in the later Potter films.

The first open auditions for the role of Luna Lovegood saw 14-year-old Evanna Lynch beat 15,000 other girls to win her first film role.

However, with the later open calls for people to play Lavender Brown and Tom Riddle, the parts went to people with acting experience, despite the casting stating no acting experience was necessary.

Announcing the auditions, director David Yates said: "These auditions are open to everybody and we can't wait to see who comes in the door.

"Normally I have all these casting agents sending me kids who have been to stage school and who come in tap-dancing and singing.

"What we are looking for is someone natural and absolutely credible in their own right."

Seven thousand people auditioned but the parts eventually went to Jessie Cave, star of CBBC drama Summerhill and movie Inkheart and Christian Coulson who had appeared in BBC series Love in a Cold Climate.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Jessie Cave (l), and Evanna Lynch (r) appear alongside Tom Felton who played Draco Malfoy at a Harry Potter DVD launch in 2009

Other notable open auditions in the film world saw actress Dakota Blue Richards win the lead role of Lyra in The Golden Compass, the film adaptation of Philip Pullman's Northern Lights, through open casting.

Meanwhile, Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks has also held open casting auditions a number of times - finding Roxanne McKee among others in the process.


Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera's careers both started at The All New Mickey Mouse Club

Britney Spears started on her road to fame with an open audition for The All New Mickey Mouse club.

The TV show was also the first step on the road to A-list stardom for Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Ryan Gosling, who won their parts in regional auditions.

More than 100,000 kids in North America auditioned to be in the show and casting director Matt Casella said an open casting was the right way to find talent for the show:

"If I wanted polish, I'd have done the casting in L.A. These were ones that kids could relate to."

Even the cast of Mouse rejects is impressive - among those who failed to get on the show include Kirsten Dunst, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Jessica Simpson.


Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption J.D Fortune (2nd left) is seen here in 2005 alongside Jon Farriss, Andrew Farriss and Kirk Pengilly from INXS as they released their first album since the death of Michael Hutchence

In 2005, rock group INXS started the process of holding open auditions for singers to replace the late Michael Hutchence.

The Australian band held auditions in six continents as part of a reality TV series, INXS Rock Star.

The eventual winner was Canadian singer JD Fortune.

However, joining such a well known band was not plain sailing for the newcomer.

In 2009, Canada's The Star reported he was homeless and living out of a pickup truck after the other INXS members abruptly sacked him.

He said his heavy use of cocaine was the cause: "It got as bad as it needed to be for me to numb out the fact that this was going to come to a screeching halt,"

However, the band denied he had been sacked and he continued to perform with the band until 2011.

He now has a solo career.


Image copyright PA
Image caption New member Johnny Shentall (centre) was unveiled at a press conference alongside band members Noel Sullivan, Suzanne Shaw, Mylene Klass and Danny Foster

When longstanding member Kym Marsh left Hear'Say in 2002, the band - who were created when they won ITV talent show Popstars - held open auditions to find a replacement.

Johnny Shentall from Doncaster won after queuing up with 3,000 other hopefuls and was chosen after two days of intensive auditions.

When it emerged that he was married to former Steps singer Lisa Scott-Lee and an ex-member of chart group Boom! the band were forced to issue a statement refuting claims their auditions to find a new member were "fixed".

However Johnny Shentall couldn't save the band, they split later the same year blaming abuse from the public

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