screen test


Marlon Brando at age 23 during a screen test for Rebel Without a Cause

“Shakespeare said: “There is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face.” And there should be such an art. When the camera is close on you, your face becomes the stage. Your face is the proscenium arch of the theater, thirty feet high. And it sees all the little movements of the face and the eye and the mouth.” – Marlon Brando

I’ve seen this gif a million times, and I just figured out the context

He’s rolling his eyes because the casting director asked him about Tallulah Bankhead, an actress with whom he had just done a play. Throughout the play’s run, Ms. Bankhead aggressively and repeatedly tried to get Brando to sleep with her, even though he found her repulsive. In a letter to his parents, he wrote “Next time she swims in the ocean, I hope whales shit on her.”

(Source: I just read his memoir)


Audrey Hepburn’s Roman Holiday test took place at Pinewood Studios in London, September 18, 1951, under Thorold Dickinson’s direction. “We did some scenes out of the script,” he said, but “Paramount also wanted to see what Audrey was actually like —not acting a part, so I did an interview with her. We loaded a thousand feet of film into a camera and every foot of it went on this conversation. She talked about her experiences in the war, the Allied raid on Arnhem, and hiding out in a cellar. A deeply moving thing.”  — From Audrey Hepburn by Barry Paris


Ingrid Bergman, age 23, in her first Hollywood screen test for Intermezzo (1939)

In a memo to David O. Selznick, co-star Leslie Howard wrote about this screen test: “[A]bsolutely convinced that from every point of view, hair and appearance, the one marked ‘no makeup’ is the best […] The whole effect is really startling.”