These self-tests are truly game-changing, and some great actors provide a few takeaways.

Dacre Montgomery – Stranger Things

This self-tape works wonders. It covers almost every aspect. Dacre captures the character perfectly in this tape. I wouldn’t have the courage to do such a thing on a tape. That probably points out why Dacre is on the show. It means to be bold and stand out from the crowd.

Dacre is also skilled and proficient in technical matters. Dacre has a clear view of what he’s talking about and to whom he is speaking. He is a master at using the frame. The costume change allows you to change places and feel that you are there. He uses period-appropriate music for the music that he chooses. It feels so natural and effortless, almost like it was written instinctually. This is number one.

Daisy Ridley – Star Wars

Although only a small portion of the tape is available online, it provides a glimpse of Daisy’s amazing performance. This tape is number 2. It is due to her emotional connection to this moment and her extraordinary ability to repeat it repeatedly. JJ Abrams, the director of the tape, speaks in the voice-over. He says he was impressed by her ability to capture the stakes and respond emotionally.

The director can see that the actor can perform thirty takes at once and still deliver the full performance each time. Ridley’s craft is also evident in this footage. She was instrumental in landing Star Wars and establishing her career. This footage shows you everything you need to know about Ridley’s performance. She is skilled, crafty, and has undeniable power. The film’s final moment is also nearly identical to this one.

Benedict Cumberbatch – The Hobbit

This is a strange audition. Although his chances of being cast as a literal dragon are low, his dedication to voice and physicality is extraordinary. As Daisy Ridley said, the whole audition isn’t shown here. However, you can see that Cumberbatch was serious about the serpentine nature and character. It can be difficult to fully invest in the character’s world, especially if it isn’t human. Cumberbatch invests in the dragon not only verbally but also physically.

You can see the part where he smells like an intruder. He somehow manages to do that without looking too much (see what I did there?). He feels grounded and natural. Vocally, he made a strong choice. The performance could easily feel too large for the screen. It’s dramatic. The dialogue is unique and has a lot of keywords. It also features a heightened diction and melodic approach. It is fascinating and highly effective.

Dean Norris – Breaking Bad

Although this is technically not a self-tape, it’s a great audition nonetheless. Dean is completely himself and perfectly portrays the character. Even better, he makes a mistake in the clip. He misspells his character’s name, but he keeps going because he knows that Hank isn’t the type of guy who cares. This clip shows the actor acting as he would normally under the circumstances.

He is unapologetic and calls it what he sees. He holds the script in his hands and refers to it throughout the scene. This does not affect his performance. He is making jokes, improvising and making mistakes, but he keeps moving forward to achieve his character’s goals, just as we do in real life.

Blake Lively – Gossip girl

Blake Lively is, in my humble opinion, seriously underrated. This tape shows that she is a great actor with much depth and range. This tape is unquestionably authentic, real, and honest, unlike other self-tapes. You can’t tell me what will happen next if you watch this video. Lively is so present and focused on getting the scene partner she needs, that the whole audition seems to disappear.

It could be two friends who accidentally forgot to turn on the lighting. This performance feels wild and far from being scripted. This performance would have been a great deal of work and was the basis for Blake Lively’s entire career.

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