Some of the participants, including a girl sitting by me who flew in from Sacramento (her analysis of Sacramento: “It’s not the best place”), had manila folders with headshots and résumés. I realized that I maybe should have brought a résumé. But whatever. My thespian background isn’t exactly formidable; the last production I tried out for was a church musical for children called We Like Sheep. (Perhaps you’ve heard of it?) I was seven, I was cast as Lambie-Pie, and I was sensational. But it’s still not a huge body of work. So unless the Cast It Talent staffers would have been impressed by my saying, “I went on Fox Business one time,” I’m pretty sure that forgetting my résumé wasn’t a game-changer.
At this juncture, it’s worth noting that there are Star Wars
tryout truthers. A couple sitting next to me — Kaylyn Dicksion, who runs a website called MarzGurl Productions
and told me she almost got a gig on a reality show, and her fiancé, Josh Saucedo — killed some of the time making video selfies for her YouTube channel. “I don’t know what the tie is between this meet-and-greet and Wizard World,” said Kaylyn to the camera, referring to the Wizard World Austin Comic Con event that’s conveniently — or is it too
conveniently? — taking place across the street. “But I still say that there is some connection, whether we like it or not,” she concludes.
The pair speculates that the tryouts might not actually be a good-faith effort on the part of Cast It Talent to fill roles for the new Star Wars movie (crazy, right?). The rationale: It couldn’t be a coincidence that Wizard World was going on basically in the same place at the same time. And that’s not to mention that also slated for that night is an event for fans of Star Wars: The Old Republic, which, per its Wikipedia page, is a “massively multiplayer online role-playing game.” These things were planned before, Kaylyn argued; this stuff doesn’t just happen. And why would Disney go to the bother of globe-trotting in search of future celebrities if not to brazenly drum up publicity? If that’s true, it totally worked, with Exhibit A being the article you’re reading right now.
Kaylyn doesn’t have any empirical data backing up her theory, but she does question the legitimacy of the auditions. “It does have me concerned,” she tells me. “I’ve got to admit it.” She adds that she doesn’t want to question the auditions held in other cities, though. “Maybe the other cities are more legitimate, but I don’t know about this one,” she says. After making her case, she passes time playing a Pokemon game on her Nintendo DS.
Quick tangent: Kaylyn and Josh met at a comic convention. He asked if he could take a picture of her because she was wearing a beguiling costume as Aeris from the Final Fantasy game. A few years later, and they’re engaged. Everyone else in the world: You’re going to be single forever.
But back to presuming the worst about Disney’s intentions (usually a safe bet): I can’t imagine that this tryout/publicity-stunt gambit was super successful. People basically waited five hours to be told to go to a website. Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. After sitting in this one ballroom for about two hours, people were told to shuffle into another ballroom. Then the casting director, a remarkably unflustered woman, explained to participants that she and her staff had been carefully trained to pick out personality traits or something, and that after talking with each person for a few seconds, they would maybe pull a few out of the line to sign their name in some notebook and stay in touch.
“This is so intense right now,” says the girl from Sacramento, leafing over her headshots and résumé. “I feel like afterwards it’s going to be a little bit more . . . ” Her voice trails off. “This is crazy.”
So the Ballroom #2 part of this process took about an hour, depending on where you were in line. By the time I got to the front, the unflustered casting director pulled me and three others out of line and told us to go to opencastingcall2013.com (hyperlinked for your convenience!), upload a tryout video, and make sure to say in the video that we went to the Austin meet-and-greet. That was it. Quick and dirty. I took that to mean I’m not going to be in Star Wars. National Review editors, you can exhale.
Here’s why Star Wars is dead: First, because they made a huge mistake in not casting me. Second, because it’s no longer in the hands of a bunch of nerds in California and because it’s been entrusted instead to the kind of people who think eight-hour meet-and-greets are a good idea either as A) publicity stunts (or, giving them the presumption of good faith) B) a good way to determine who’s going to be the next Luke Skywalker. It’s because Star Wars — a story that’s profoundly anti-centralization, anti-bureaucracy, anti-depersonalization — is being micromanaged and scrutinized by nameless bureaucrats who think that people who’ve stood in line for five hours will be satisfied with being directed to a website. And it’s because a film enterprise that was initially about risk is now about bet-hedging. No one should need to be told that the seventh film in a franchise probably isn’t going to be super great. But, you know, just in case, consider yourself warned.
As I headed out of auditions, I passed Josh and Kaylyn on the escalator, and I asked him how it went (Kaylyn wasn’t trying out; she was just there to support her fiancé).
“Oh, all right,” he said. He looked glum. “Over and done.” If only we could say as much for Lucasfilm.
— Betsy Woodruff is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.
Editor’s Note: This article has been amended since its initial posting.