Keeping in mind the hundreds of thousands of films and television shows that have come and gone (or continue to go, even when they shouldn't), the number of audition tapes available online is relatively small. A quick search on Youtube yields the same 100+ videos, all of which are only a few minutes in length, but wholly absorbing to watch. Oh, what I would give to have access to all of the screen tests out there, terrible or great.
Much like dramatic irony in literature (where we as onlookers know more than the characters themselves do), it's interesting to go back & watch audition tapes in retrospect. Nerves & all, these actors breathe life into the scripts they are reading for, desperately hoping to come out on the other side victorious. For us viewers at home, there is just something so satisfying about knowing what is to come.
Again, this is only a handful of Hollywood's loveliest ladies that broke the mould when they made these audition tapes. So sit back, relax, and binge away.
8. Rachel McAdams
Role: Allie Calhoun
Film: The Notebook (2004)
I honestly cannot express my adoration for this audition enough, nor will I admit how many views are from yours truly (I've lost count). In all honesty, I prefer this reading to the actual scene from the film because of the raw emotions evoked. And to answer a question you didn't ask, yes, that is Ryan Gosling reading with her.
7. EVANGELINE LILLY
Role: Kate Austen
Show: Lost (2004 - 2010)
The capslock was intentional because, c'mon, it's Evangeline Lilly. Say what you will about Lost (only good things or my heart will break in two), she was truly irreplaceable as Kate and this show wouldn't have been half as compelling without Ma Belle Evangeline centered at its core. The scene she reads for is particularly engrossing to watch because, up until one week before shooting the pilot, Jack was a dead man. See for yourself and spot the glaring difference.
6. Ellen Page & Olivia Thirlby
Role: Juno MacGuff & Leah
Film: Juno (2007)
Ah, yet another pair that got cast together. Don't you just love when that happens? I'm convinced that no one could have played Juno like Ellen and her undeniable charm makes me want to envelope her in a warm embrace (platonic or romantic, either-or). Anyways if you want to fall down the rabbit hole of loving Ellen Page even more--is that possible?--you can watch her Emmy-nominated show, Gaycation, on Viceland (it's a TV channel). Get it, girl.
5. Emma Stone
Role: Olive Penderghast
Film: Easy A (2010)
Sweet baby angel. My face is Scarlett from adoring this actress to no goddamn end. In true Olive Penderghast fashion, Emma filmed her audition via grainy webcam while sitting on her bed. True to life and true to the film, this seemingly simple act is a testament to her acting chops and cajones in general. While she was emulating the narration style of the film, Hollywood is still old school so major props to her for taking a chance. I think it went well for her. Major props to you, too, if you can keep up with all the tongue-twisters.
4. Neve Campbell
Role: Sidney Prescott
Film: Scream (1996)
Hello, Sidney. Thought one of my favorite films deserved a shoutout, so here's a thrilling throwback. Neve kills it in Season 4 of House of Cards, but she was kicking serious ass and taking names first in the Scream series. Check out her chilling screen test below, "furnished" bedroom and all. It's a scream, baby.
3. Linda Cardellini
Role: Lindsay Weir
Show: Freaks and Geeks (1999 - 2000)
Another throwback for y'all. It's also a cult classic and a show whose lifespan was cut way too short. However it seems the whole cast has gone on to bigger and better things. Still, I would have loved to see where this show would have gone. And of course lil' Linda shines here as well as the rest of the first (and only) season. Can you tell I'm still sad about it? Cry with me and relive some weird Weir moments.
2. Anna Gunn
Role: Skyler White
Show: Breaking Bad (2008 - 2013)
She was gunning for the role and hit her mark without fail. Anna's audition stun guns us right in the chest (I'm certainly down for the count). If you want to see her steal the show elsewhere, Anna plays a she-wolf in sheep's clothing in Equity as Naomi Bishop, a Wall Street banker who could give Jordan Belfort a run for his money. But first, see the audition that shot her into sky high fame: Skyler White.
1. Beyonce Knowles
Role: Deena Jones
Film: Dreamgirls (2006)
Are You There, Dianna Ross? It's Me, Angela. This screen test has me daydreaming like no other because Bey slays in her performance. Y'all know she KNOWles she landed that role before even belting a single note. Sing her praises and give the video some much-needed lovin'.
P.S. If there is a vault somewhere hiding screen tests & audition tapes, alohomora!
Check out some other badass females from pop culture in the video below: