For actors, everything starts with the audition. Even Hollywood heavyweights like Al Pacino had to prove he could live up to the role of Michael Corleone in The Godfather by passing screen tests first.
This year’s class of 2020 Screen Actors Guild Award nominees includes stars so successful, it’s hard to believe they were once just budding options among a sea of hopefuls. Ahead of this year’s ceremony, watch as Tom Hanks, Steve Carell and first-time nominee Jennifer Lopez give it their all in these rare and forgotten audition tapes.
Within the first few seconds of the clip, fans can watch a nervous Driver taking in a deep breath while giggles erupt in the background. But once his scene begins with Lena Dunham, he transforms into HBO Girls’ Adam Sackler and completely owns the room. Based on the clear chemistry between the two stars, there’s no question as to why Driver was chosen to play the role.
How different would the 1995 classic film Jumanji be if Johansson played Judy Shepherd, instead of Kirsten Dunst? Fans will never know but this clip of the young star reading for the part is as close as fans can get to seeing what could have been.
The veteran actor, who was recently honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 2020 Golden Globes, can be seen here acting out several scenes from Forrest Gump with his future co-star Robin Wright. The two play their future roles with such emotional intensity that you may feel inspired to run home and rewatch the classic. As a bonus, the clip ends with Hanks also acting with Forrest’s son, played by a very young Haley Joel Osment.
It seems crazy to think that executives working on The Godfather did not see Pacino as a star and were reportedly unhappy with his initial screen tests. Thankfully, director Francis Ford Coppola saw his potential and gave him a shot, although Pacino had to really work for it. The clip seen here shows several potential Michaels vying for the part, including Martin Sheen and James Caan, who eventually went on to play the hot-tempered Sonny Corleone.
Lopez’s unstoppable 2019 only led into an exciting 2020 — the year all of her hard work resulted in a SAG nomination for her hit film Hustlers. But way before she became a movie star, she was trying to break into Hollywood as a dancer. Watch a younger Lopez fight for her spot on In Living Color in this tape from the ’90s, courtesy of Inside Edition.
Before taking on Mitch Kessler, the respected co-host of The Morning Show, Carell played another newsman in the 2004 comedy Anchorman: weatherman Brick Tamland. Fans can see the early stages of Tamland’s goofy, fun-loving nature in this laugh-out-loud audition that earned Carell the role.
Another star who acted alongside Carell in Anchorman is Applegate. Fans of the film will instantly recognize this scene, in which Applegate’s character, Veronica Corningstone, tells Will Ferrell’s character, Ron Burgundy, that she wants to be an anchor.
The 26th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will air live on TNT and TBS on Sunday, Jan. 19, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.