Sean Astin Recalls The Nerve-Wracking Time Steven Spielberg Walked Out of His GOONIES Audition
When I was growing up I used to go to auditions for movies, plays, and TV shows all the time. It was always a thrilling, yet nerve-wracking experience. I loved the rush of it though. But, in all the auditions that I was a part of, I never had anyone get up and walk out in the middle of it! Now, imagine what that would have been like if that person was Steven Spielberg!
That’s exactly what happened to Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings) during his audition for The Goonies. He was already nervous to begin with and it turned out to be a very disheartening experience. While talking to Michael Rosenbaum on the Inside of You podcast, Astin explained that as he was being led back to the room where he would audition, his nervousness hit a peak when Steven Spielberg’s personal assistant told him he was about to meet the most powerful man in Hollywood:
“So we’re walking through it and he says ‘Are you nervous?’ And I said ‘Yeah, a little bit.’ He goes ‘Why?’, and I said ‘I don’t know.’ He goes ‘Well, you’re just about to meet the most powerful man in Hollywood’ and he opens the door. And he had this smile on his face. And I was like ‘Ok.’”
That’s not the best way to comfort a person before going into an audition! Seems like a messed up thing to do to a poor kid before he walks into an audition like this! When Astin entered the room he was standing in front of producer Harvey Bernhard, director Richard Donner and Steven Spielberg. What happened next resulted in Spielberg walking out of Sean Astin’s audition. The actor continued:
“So we do this scene, and it’s really good. Until we get to this one point in it, and I forget the line. And I start shaking. And they’re like ‘It’s alright. Do you want to pick it up do you want take it over?’ And I was like ‘Can I just look at it? Oh, right! I remember what it was.’ So we do it again, and at the same spot. I’ve now psyched myself out. But at the same spot I forget. I go ‘Shit!’ And Steven gets up and walks out of the room. And I’m like ‘Well, I guess I’m never going to make another movie in Hollywood.’ I’m a guy who's cursed, you probably don’t want as the star of your kid movie a kid that says ‘shit.’”
Damn, Spielberg leaving the room during an audition… that would have been a horrific feeling. As you might imagine, Astin was panicking a bit and there’s no doubt his heart sunk. But, he pushed through the audition. After Spielberg left the room, Richard Donner came over to talk to Astin, comfort him, and calm his nerves. Things went better after that:
“So we do it again, and I get to the spot and I kind of bump on it, but I glance, and I get through it. But it’s like, I never did it clean. And they said ‘Ok, thank you very much.’ And I go out and go into the car and my dad goes ‘How’d it go?’ I was like ‘I didn’t get it.’ He goes ‘What do you mean?’ I was like ‘I didn’t get it, I kept messing up. I couldn’t remember my lines.’”
But regardless of how bad the audition went, Astin did end up landing the part! They obviously saw something in him that they knew made him right for the role, and he totally was! He was great in the film! Astin also suspects that they wanted him for the part to begin with and a bad audition wasn’t going to change their minds.