A few weeks ago Disney posted the site opencastingcall2013.com, saying that they were traveling to multiple cities casting two characters named Rachel and Thomas. That didn’t fool anyone though and news shot through the internet about the open casting call for Star Wars: Episode VII with more power than the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive. Disney then decided to give up the ruse, slapped a star-filled background on the site, and admitted that it is indeed a casting call for Star Wars.
This week the auditions came to Chicago, so I decided to head on over to the Park West Theater and check things out for myself. The casting call was scheduled to happen from 3:00 pm to 8:00 pm, so I arrived around 5:30pm, hoping to catch everything in full-swing. I went straight to the theater and saw a line stretching around the corner. I then walked down to that corner and was absolutely amazed by what I saw.
Much like Anakin’s midi-chlorian count, the number of people in line was absurdly high. The consensus among everyone I talked to was that they assumed a lot of people would be coming out, but no one thought there’d be quite that many. Other news sites have listed that hundreds turned out to audition for the roles. I’ll say first-hand that those sites are mistaken. The number was in the thousands. While I can’t say exactly how many people were there, the line wrapped for miles around the streets. It’s the sort of line that’s usually reserved for Beatles tickets, not an audition.
I walked down the streets, watching all these people in line and the numerous security guards monitoring them. I finally got to the back and decided it was time to start talking to people. The first group I happened upon consisted of a couple students from St. Francis university in the south suburbs and a few actors who they met along the way. The two students had no real acting background at all, which was the case for many people.
The two students, named Colt Monroe and Steven Grajek, headed into the city after finishing classes for the day, with the hopes of the Star Wars opportunity of a lifetime fueling their journey. When I met them, they had been in line for about an hour and a half, and there weren’t many people behind them. I don’t know how many people were between them and the coveted theater doors, but I do know that they were over a mile away, and this line was much denser than your traditional single-file queue.
Still, the pair wasn’t deterred at all by the countless people ahead of them. “There was no way I wasn’t going to show up for this,” said Monroe. “And there’s no way I’m going home until I get to the doors and somebody at the doors tells me to go home.”
Neither of them have any acting experience of significance. They’re both just die-hard Star Wars fans who thought having a chance to audition was too great of an opportunity to pass up. They were realistic about their shot at nabbing a major role, but figured you never know what could happen.
“As we’ve seen in previous Star Wars movies, acting experience is nice, but it’s not necessarily required,” said Grajek.
“I want to be a Wookiee,” Monroe chimed in. “Heck I’ll be a rock for all I care. I feel they’re looking for new talent, and I might as well throw my hat in.”