Pleasantville

With THE HUNGER GAMES soon to dominate our multiplexes we thought we’d go back to writer/director Gary Ross‘ outstanding directorial debut PLEASANTVILLE.

It’s a beautiful film that expertly explores fading innocence when a couple of modern teenagers are sucked into their television and become trapped in a 1950s black and white tv show. And although there’s not a laser gun or robot in sight it contained the most digital effects shots of any film ever made up to that time. It was a perfect combination of art and technology.

You can download the script by clicking here.

If you haven’t been learning lines then here are a few roles you could try:

BIFF MARTIN – the all-American high school basketball champ. In the film it was played by a young Paul Walker who went on to FAST AND FURIOUS fame. Try the scene from the bottom of script page 32 to the middle of page 34, and sequence starting on script page 40 to 48. Talk about a loss of innocence.

MISS PETERS – the geography teacher, a short little scene on script pages 30 and 31.

MARGE JENKINS – a 1950s mother – script pages 61 and 62.

And for a challenge – try the late great J.T. Walsh‘s final role BIG BOB – learn the scene starting on script page 76,  the lectern speeches on script pages 114, 118 & 119 and 129 & 130.

Good luck!

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

If you haven’t got any auditions coming up and need to practice learning lines you could do far worse than taking a look at KISS KISS BANG BANG.

This film is worth watching simply to hear Val Kilmer‘s commentary on the DVD extras. It was LETHAL WEAPON writer Shane Black‘s directorial debut – a modern homage to those wonderful noir Raymond Chandler stories.

And just to show what a fickle business this is – it took him a year and a half to write the script (writer’s block) and then he couldn’t sell it. His former cachet as being the highest paid screenwriter meant nothing when he was touting around this screenplay. Eventually he took it to uber-producer Joel Silver, the person who gave him his first break back in 1987 when he bought LETHAL WEAPON.

But your faith in Hollywood can be re-established because Shane Black’s second directing gig is IRON MAN 3 – no doubt as a result of Robert Downey Jr‘s blessing, who had dropped far from the A-list when Black cast him in this.

Download the script here.

Feel free to look at the leads of HARRY, GAY PERRY and HARMONY, but also here are some scenes for day players for you to try:

ELDERLY WOMAN – in an audition scene that is only marginally less absurd than FIERY HAWK – script page 7 & 8.

FLICKA -intro on page 19, then bottom of script page 62, 63, 64,

PRETTY GIRL – everyone loves a pretty girl – just the bit on script page 68.

LEATHER 1 or 2 – take your pick of goon – the scene on page 71, 72, 73.

PINK HAIR – script page 81, 82…. and 83. Hope we’re not spoiling it by saying it’s one of the most bizarre – and oddly moving – death scenes ever.

 

Juno

Here’s a treat for all you line-learners out there – it’s Diablo Cody‘s Oscar winning screenplay for JUNO. Her first screenplay and she knocked it out of the park.

Download the script here.

There are tons of amazing exchanges among the leads and the entire script is worth a read, but if you’re looking for some of those roles that would have been auditioned try these:

GERTA the lawyer – scene 53, scene 58b for the reaction and scene 60 (the beginning and end).

BLEEKER’S MOM – a dowdy lady, scene 46 and 71 for the dialogue and the ‘look’.

ULTRASOUND TECHNICIAN – scene 63 – a lovely scene for any actor

MAC – Juno’s dad, okay maybe not strictly an ‘auditioned for’ role but why not try scene 96.

Good luck with your learning.

Deep Impact

Do you want to help save the world? Well then learning some lines from this near perfect disaster movie is the order of the day. It’s a sweeping ensemble epic directed by Mimi Leder, with whom we had the pleasure of working with on another Morgan Freeman film THICK AS THIEVES.

With an asteroid hurtling through space on a collision course with earth, it is a wonderful opportunity for actors to show their terrified acting ability.

Image of Deep Impact  - Special Edition [DVD]

Download the script by clicking here.

Here are some roles that would have been cast through the audition process. Be warned – they are not easy roles to audition. If you are not learning lines for any real auditions in the next few days, then use these to keep your brain nimble.

BOBBY –  scene 21,  scene 258 –  a tricky one, no dialogue but the reaction when pulling the long straw is important.

ENTREKIN – scene 38, and the little bit in scene 46.

PATRICIA RUIZ – scene 25A. A whole scene dedicated just to her.

CHLOE – scene 40a, the young new wife meeting her step-daughter – who is more or less her age – for the first time.

VAN SERTMA – for those of you who like to deliver scientific lines – scene 136 and scene 189f.

SECTION LEADER – a for militaristic delivery – scene 219 and 220.

ELLEN BIEDERMAN – mother of Elijah Wood’s character – not many lines but an emotional performance needed – try the short but critical scene 118, and then scene 220

VICKY – very similar to ELLEN’s role – not a huge role but essential to get it pitch perfect – try scenes 217,  276 and then 279…

MARIETTE – and again, another role with just a few filming days, not many lines, but critical for the emotional climax of the entire film – we see her in scene 72a and then the sequence including scenes 306 / 309 / 310 / 311.

There are some other wonderful sections of dialogue in there too – from the monologues of Morgan Freeman‘s President to the beautiful mother/daughter relationship between Vanessa Redgrave and Tea Leoni…. so if you don’t fancy tackling any of the smaller roles above then treat yourselves to one of the meaty parts.

 

A Few Good Men

In our mission to persuade you to learn lines every day here’s another Aaron Sorkin cracker – A FEW GOOD MEN directed by Rob Reiner.

Image of A Few Good Men [DVD]

Unbelievably this is Sorkin‘s first screenplay, based on his Broadway play. But he can’t take all the credit – writing legend William Goldman (a pal of the director) did such a great uncredited polish that Sorkin re-wrote and re-published the play to incorporate the changes. And one of the most memorable movie lines of all time – “You can’t handle the truth” – was allegedly written by none other than Steven Spielberg.

The script can be downloaded from here.

There are the sum total of two female speaking roles in this film – one played by Demi Moore and the other played by the director’s sister-in-law, but for the purposes of learning lines anyone can attempt the following roles:

LUTHER – the news stand guy – script pages 37 and 98. This role might not seem important but both of his scenes are with Tom Cruise, so for the actor that got the part it would have been a thrilling day, and a of course a great addition to his showreel.

CAPTAIN WHITAKER – pages 10 to 12, played in the film by Xander Berkeley – a wonderful jobbing actor.

SPRADLING – a young naval officer – pages 7, 8 and 9.

COMMANDER STONE – a Navy Doctor in his 40s –  the courtroom scene from page 84 to 90. Quite challenging this one with lots of doctor-speak.

ORDERLY – okay, now this one we really love. This guy appears in one scene – on page 21 – he says three words, and two of them are the same. Yes, he gets to say them to Jack Nicholson, but that’s not what kills us. What we really love about this role is that it is played by a young actor called Joshua Malina. It’s his first film or television role. Those three words. But actually he is the only actor who appeared in the Broadway play that inspired the film to appear in it. In the play, he started as an understudy but ended up with a good role. So when they cast him in the film with just those three words to say they were throwing him a bone. A lot of actors might have thrown it back, thinking the part was too small. But not Joshua – he said his three words and got his first on-screen credit. And then the same director and writer gave him a bigger part in THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT, and then Sorkin gave him a recurring role in the tv series SPORTS NIGHT, and then an even better role in 80 episodes of THE WEST WING. And he hasn’t stopped working since.

It’s a great lesson in someone taking an opportunity and making the most of it. Some roles might seem tiny and insignificant but do a good job and you never know where it might lead.

Miller’s Crossing

Here’s another selection of delightful audition scenes for you to practise learning lines, this time from the Coen brother’s classic crime noir MILLER’S CROSSING. An outstanding piece of film making.

Image of Miller's Crossing [1990] [DVD] [1991]

Download the script from here

We suggest you challenge yourselves this time and attempt these scenes with an American accent as the Coen brother’s intended.

FAT TONY – scene 3 from page 8 (he is the Voice), and scene 57 from page 85.

BERYL – one beautiful scene only – number 11 from the bottom of page 18, really gets going on page 19.

VERNA – what a piece of work – try scene 15 from page 25, and scene 24 from bottom of page 39 (dialogue starts on page 40).

MINK – scene 12, from script page 19 – that’s all Steve Buscemi had to say.

O’GAR, the police chief – scene 22, script page 38 and scene 58, script page 86.

BERT or WHISPER – pick either one to learn – scene 46 from page 72, and then scene 47…

Good luck!

Groundhog Day

We caught this on tv recently and it still stands up to the test of time. Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis‘ script is inventive, romantic, charming. What a great comedy.

Download an early draft here.

Image of Groundhog Day [DVD] [1993]

Rumour has it that the original shortlist for the lead role of PHIL included Tom Hanks, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and John Travolta. Imagine how differently the movie would have turned out with any one of those guys…

According to director Harold Ramis, most of the times when he tried to explain a scene to Bill Murray, Murray would interrupt and ask, “Just tell me – good Phil or bad Phil?”.

So here are a few roles that you can use as part of your learning lines programme. C’mon – in this lull between Christmas and New Year what else are you going to do?

Remember – try to make the roles your own, don’t simply imitate the wonderful cast that brought the film to life. But by all means check out their performances to see how they made the most of the opportunity.

CHUBBY MAN – script page 13, 27 and 100. A classic day player role – one location, more or less one set up. If you can make this role interesting then you are well on your way to being a useful actor.

NED RYERSON – here are scenes we would use to audition for this role: bottom of script page 14, then page 15 and 16, pages 29/30, script pages 103 and 104. One of the great all time character actors, Stephen Tobolowsky, made this role truly memorable.

NANCY – audition scenes would be script pages 23/24, 50/51, 53/54/55. A lovely role that most likely would be filled by a regular actress through the audition process.

The PSYCHOLOGIST – described as “a marriage and family counselor at the local Lutheran church. His appearance and manner indicate he may have some serious problems of his own.”  – wonderful. He appears on script pages 42 and 43. Another classic day player role – an opportunity for a memorable performance.

NURSE – again, a pretty functional day player role – be bold, make her interesting – script pages 104 and 105.

And finally, alas, a role that was cut – the WOMAN on page 77. It happens to the best.

Go ahead, choose some of these scenes, learn the lines. If you like – tape yourselves and send us a link.

 

Beautiful Girls

One of my all time favourite films, directed by Ted Demme with a near perfect cast by the legendary Margery Simkin. It’s not just the leads that are fantastic (Timothy Hutton, Matt Dillon, Uma Thurman and a young Natalie Portman) but the supporting roles are all pitch perfect: Noah Emmerich, Rosie O’Donnell, Michael Rappaport, Martha Plimpton, Max Perlich, Annabeth Gish… the list goes on and on. Not a dud among them.

It’s an absolute gem – if you haven’t seen it please please do yourself a favour and try to find it. Even though it’s not a Christmas film it is perfect Christmas viewing. It expertly interweaves many themes: coming home, growing up, male friendships, love, youthful potential. And it’s damned funny.

Image of Beautiful Girls [DVD]

Download the script by clicking here.

Here are some scenes you can learn as part of your learning lines commitment – they are all pretty challenging, but Scott Rosenberg‘s dialogue is exquisite (he was quite the screenwriter of the late 90s):

PAUL – start at the bottom of page 14 all the way up to “What kind of life can she have with a man who stinks of brisket?”

SHARON – from page 32 all the way to the end of the scene – some pretty long passages there…

GINA – the rant, mid page 40 onwards… oh my… with a few tweaks this would make a great monologue.

PAUL – another incredible speech, start the scene on page 80 and go until “Only love can break your heart”.

Please – see this film and let us know what you think.

And again feel free to post any links to your versions of the scenes above.

The Social Network

Quite simply, Aaron Sorkin writes the best dialogue, and his screenplay for The Social Network is no exception.

Thanks to Sony the screenplay can be downloaded by clicking here.

Image of The Social Network [DVD]

Here are some scenes that you can use as mock auditions and as part of your learning lines programme.

These are a few “day player” scenes – roles that shoot by the day, that appear maybe once or twice in the story. These roles would almost certainly be cast from a one-time audition.

MR COX – script pages 21 and 22.

ADMINISTRATOR – script pages 28 and 29.

PROFESSOR – script pages 30 and 31.

BOB – script page 69.

MR KENWRIGHT – script page 128 and 129.

And for those that like a challenge here are a few slightly meatier roles to get into. These roles might have involved recalls, chemistry reads or straight offers:

CHRISTY – script pages 139 to 141.

MARYLIN – script pages 81 and 82, and then bottom of 160 to 164 inclusive.

AMY – script pages 84 to 89.

LARRY SUMMERS – script page 90 to 96.

Remember, feel free to post links to your readings of these scenes in the comments section below – and don’t imitate the performances from the movie, make the characters your own.