Excerpt from A Life in Parts:
"From the time I got back from my motorcycle trip in 1978, I knew I wanted to make my living as an actor. Rejection is part of that living. It comes with it, like rain on the Blue Ridge Parkway. You can sugarcoat it. You can use a euphemism if you wish. But the bottom line is that sometimes they are simply not going to want you. And if they do want you, they may fire you. We're going in a different direction. Or they say with what seems like sincerity "Let's keep talking," and then never call you back. Or they tell your agent, in a polite way, that you sucked. Or that you're great. "Wow! Fantastic! Really. He's perfect for this. We'll be in touch." And then... crickets. There are a lot of crickets in this business.
Early on, after an audition, I'd wait by the phone, wringing my hands. And then when I heard I didn't get the part, I'd marinate in disappointment and introspection. Could I have done something differently?
But about twenty years ago something changed. I'd gotten to a place where I didn't feel any of that negativity. No more post-audition self-laceration, no more competition, no ill will toward anyone else. I made a switch in the way I approached the process. The switch seemed simple enough once I understood it, but it took me years to achieve that understanding.
Early in my career, I was always hustling. Doing commercials, guest-starring, auditioning like crazy. I was making a decent living, but I confided in Robin that I felt like I was stuck in junior varsity. I wondered if I had plateaued. Ever thoughtful, my wife gave me the gift of private sessions with a self-help guy named Breck Costin, who was really wonderful with actors and other creative people.
Breck suggested that I focus on process rather than outcome. I wasn't going to the auditions to get anything: a job or money or validation. I wasn't going to compete with the other guys.
I was going to give something.
I wasn't there to get a job. I was there to do a job. Simple as that. I was there to give a performance. If I attached to the outcome, I was setting myself up to expect, and thus to fail. My job was to focus on character. My job was to be interesting. My job was to be compelling. Take some chances. Serve the text. Enjoy the process.
And this wasn't some semantic slight of hand, it wasn't some subtle form of barter or gamesmanship. There was no predicting or manipulating, no thinking of the outcome. Outcome was irrelevant. I couldn't afford any longer to approach my work as a means to an end.
Once I made the switch, I was no longer a supplicant. I had power in any room I walked into. Which meant I could relax. I was free.
In advance of my audition, I'd read the script, suss out what was expected. The character is going to murder his coworker, so there's probably some rage and frustration and fear of getting caught. My job is not just to deliver those expected feelings, but to find something interesting and unexpected, maybe some barely contained glee or mania or righteousness.
I learned to take control of the room. If I felt the scene called for two characters to be standing, I might ask the casting director to please get up. "What? Get out of my seat? Oh, uh, okay." The casting director gets up, and now we're at eye level. Or if the objective was intimidation, I'd get close. That shift in physicality is visceral. It changes the power dynamic. We are accustomed to keeping a certain distance in professional settings. Cheating that, even if it's just by a few inches, provokes a reaction.
Of course I didn't always get the job, but that wasn't my intent anymore. What was important was I always left that room knowing I did everything I could do.
I had a basket at home. I'd audition and then toss the script in the basket. I'd forget about it. I'd let it go. You can't fake letting it go. You have to really genuinely detach from it." (Cranston LOC 2658-2688).
Source: Cranston, Bryan. A Life in Parts. [Kindle DX Version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com