Casting director Eric Dawson — who’s worked closely with Ryan Murphy on everything from Glee to Dahmer — recently lifted the lid on some of his most memorable audition room moments, revealing that Margot was very nearly cast in Asylum, the second season of AHS.
“Margot is probably one of my favorite auditions of all time, and it was right before she broke out,” he told Backstage this week.
In case you haven't seen it, Asylum followed Murder House as the sophomore season of the hit FX show in 2012.
Set in 1964, Asylum takes place at a fictional mental institution called Briarcliff Manor and follows the stories of its staff and inmates, played by the likes of Jessica Lange and Lily Rabe.
At this point in her career, Margot had appeared in the ABC series Pan Am but was far less known than she is today. Despite this, Eric said her star quality was undeniable.
“Margot has a lot of ‘it’ factors. That's the tough thing for casting directors who aren't in the room [anymore] with actors. She was such a star,” he said. “It was crazy, her star appeal when she walked in the room.”
He didn’t specify which role she was auditioning for, although fans have speculated that she may have been in the running to play Sister Mary Eunice or Grace, parts that ultimately went to Lily and Lizzie Brocheré respectively.
“Even though she didn't get that role, that was one of those things as a casting director where you go, ‘This is a star, what do we do with her?’” he said, suggesting that they had hoped to cast her in another season of the show, which is soon to return for its 12th series, Delicate.
“Immediately, though, she was out of our realm of possibility of hiring,” Eric added, referencing Margot’s major career blowup that came soon after. “But that's really the fun part of casting, is seeing the people whose careers are just rising.”
Of course, you hardly need me to tell you that things worked out OK for Margot, who landed her breakout role in The Wolf of Wall Street just a year later, in 2013.
And just as she made her mark in the AHS casting room, Martin Scorsese has previously said that Margot’s audition for The Wolf of Wall Street was so impressive that she bagged the job right off the bat.
“She clinched her part in The Wolf of Wall Street during our first meeting by hauling off and giving Leonardo DiCaprio a thunderclap of a slap on the face,” the director told Time magazine of the improvised moment that changed Margot’s life.
Recounting the audition herself, Margot told Harper’s Bazaar it was a now-or-never moment.
“In my head I was like, ‘You have literally 30 seconds left in this room, and if you don't do something impressive, nothing will ever come of it. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance, just take it.’ And so I start screaming at him, and he's yelling back at me. And he's really scary. I can barely keep up,” she said.
“So I walk up really close to his face and then I'm like, ‘Maybe I should kiss him. When else am I ever going to get a chance to kiss Leo DiCaprio, ever?’” she recalled. “But another part of my brain clicks and I just go, whack! I hit him in the face. And then I scream, ‘Fuck you!’ And that's not in the script at all. The room just went dead silent and I froze.”