James Dean & Paul Newman East of Eden Audition

"Look right into the lens." Casting Director

"Look right into the lens." Casting Director

James Dean & Paul Newman East of Eden Audition (1954) shows to legends at the dawn of their careers.

Directed by Elia Kazan

I love to watch, study and reflect on actors auditions and screen tests. What I find fascinating in the screen test below is the relaxed, playful and attentive nature of both actors. Auditioning is serious business and when you are in the running for a major part and your opponent happens to be your good friend you can do what these two do and help each other. Robert De Niro in his audition for The GodFather Part II (1974) also exhibited a very casual and relaxed audition that landed him not only a major role in that movie, but an Oscar to top it off. Who ultimately gets the part is completely in the hands of non-actors. James ultimately got the part, which in this case came down to age. Dean was seven years younger than Newman and looked like a teenager. Richard Davalos got to play James Dean brother in the film and he did a great job. I would have had Paul play James' brother simply because their screen presence and chemistry are so electrifying in this screen test. Also note how no matter how much they play around the minute they are given directions they immediately do as they are asked. If they are uncertain they immediately ask for further guidance. Never be shy about voicing your confusion during an audition. You are there to give them exactly what they want from you as an actor.

Trivia - Not visible in this tape is that James Dean was flipping a small switch blade during the screen test.