Imagine you had the chance to star in a summer blockbuster and all you had to do to get the part was show up in the director’s office wearing a bikini. Never mind that your character never wears a bikini in the film. Nope, the director just wants you to prove you aren’t fat. Would you do it? Would you wear that bikini and appease that director?
Would you if you were a well-established actress on a hit television show? It’s what one director asked of Emmy Rossum, not more than a year ago. Rossum, who plays Fiona Gallagher on Showtime’s #Shameless, alongside William H. Macy, shared the story with fellow actresses during a comedy round table for The Hollywood Reporter.
Rossum Considered Putting On The Bikini
“My agent called me and was like, 'I'm so embarrassed to make this call, but there's a big movie and they're going to offer it to you. They really love your work on the show. But the director wants you to come into his office in a bikini. There's no audition. That's all you have to do.'"
It didn’t matter that Rossum’s character is often dressed down in revealing clothes on Shameless.
"He wanted to know if I was fat now. And I actually had this moment like, 'Well, how good is the part?' For a second, I was like, 'Would I do it? Send me the script. Maybe the character is in a bikini in the movie.'"
Alas, no. Rossum was just another well-respected actress getting the sexist treatment well into the 21st century.
"'We really love your work, but we just want to see how tight your ass is.' “Are you ****ing kidding me? Last time I checked, I'm not a ****ing model."
Rossum Fears Young Actresses Would Do It
It’s safe to say Rossum turned down the request. As an established actress with a growing career, she could afford the snub. But could a less established actress take the chance? Would she?
“If somebody with my years in the business would think, 'Well, I wonder if it's worth it,' then what would a girl who doesn't have my success do? She would do it."
Typecasting Actresses In Hollywood
Here's the thing. Rossum's probably right.
Casting Call: The Project is an effort by three New York City actresses to shed a light on the way women are portrayed in film — and how they’re often asked to audition for such roles. The project asks fellow actresses to read real casting calls that are often sexist, racist, ageist, discriminatory — you name it.
One participant, actress Heather Olsen, shared at least one story that underscores Rossum’s fear of what goes on in film auditions today.
In one audition, Olsen was asked to demonstrate how she would “hook up” with a fellow male actor. She wasn’t concerned with the scene, as many films show intimate moments between characters, but she was surprised when the director asked her to take her shirt off during the audition.
“I got really pissed because they didn’t ask him to take his shirt off. I asked if they were going to ask him to do that, too, and [the director] thought I was making a joke.”
What would you do if you were asked to appear in a bikini — or less — in an audition?