Actor Sarah Steele joined the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversations series April 3 to discuss her turn in the feature film version of Tony winner Stephen Karam’s Speech & Debate. Steele reprises the role that she originated when the play bowed Off-Broadway at the Laura Pels Theatre.
Towards the end of the discussion, Playbill Editor in Chief and moderator Mark Peikert asked Steele if she had a horrible audition story. “I really do,” she laughed. “It was for Bright Star.
“I had to sing, and I did something crazy. I don't know what I was thinking,” she explained. “I picked a song that I thought I sounded really good singing it, but it was about two kids who go into the woods and freeze to death. ... It’s a beautiful song—it's just extremely upsetting. I just thought it sounded really good in my voice. ... I had to audition for Steve Martin, who I'm a huge fan of, and I had to do that song and then do a comedic scene. I don’t know why I didn’t think that that would be a disaster.
“I did the song, and I was so nervous because Steve Martin was there that I didn't even sound good, and the director literally said, ‘Well that was depressing.’”
Steele admits that she “took a huge risk and it backfired completely.”
Of course, between her starring role in Broadway’s The Humans, her role on CBS’ The Good Fight, and the premiere of Speech & Debate, Steele has obviously nailed her share of auditions.
Speech & Debate is now available on iTunes and opens in theatres nationwide April 7.