5 memorable movie auditions that sent actors to stardom

Earlier this week, news broke of a profoundly nostalgic kind, in the form of Sean Astin's audition tape for The Goonies.

The 1985 Richard Donner-Steven Spielberg classic rocketed Astin to stardom. He played Mikey, self-appointed leader of a misfit group of kids who set out to find hidden treasure. Check out the video below that sent Astin on the journey towards Lord of the Rings and beyond.

This got us thinking: what other memorable auditions sent their respective actors to stardom? We've rounded up five of them.

1. Robert De Niro – The Godfather (1972)

Although he auditioned for the role of Sonny in The Godfather, actor Robert De Niro proved unlucky, with James Caan eventually securing the part. But so strong was De Niro's audition that director Francis Ford Coppola selected him for the role of young Vito Corleone in 1974's The Godfather: Part II.

De Niro's quietly impassive role as the younger incarnation of Marlon Brando's character is one of a myriad of rich elements in Coppola's sweeping mob masterpiece.

2. Carrie Fisher – Star Wars (1977)

It still pains us to think that Carrie Fisher is no longer here. Full credit to director J.J. Abrams for sending her off in style in 2019's The Rise of Skywalker – although Fisher's role was entirely composed of archive footage, we were hard-pushed to tell the difference.

It's therefore with poignancy that we present the Star Wars audition that sent her on the road to A-list status – the famous Leia hairdo is nowhere to be seen, but glimmers of that famous charisma are on display.

3. Henry Thomas – E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982)

Steven Spielberg's tear-jerking 1982 classic features some of the finest performances from child actors ever put to celluloid. But did you ever wonder how the young Henry Thomas eased himself into the role of E.T.'s human friend Elliot?

It all stems from his audition tape, where Spielberg asked him to cry on cue. Thomas chose to remember his beloved dog who had just died, and the waterworks started. He then secured the role, and history was made.

4. Scarlett Johansson – Jumanji (1995)

Now famous for the Marvel movies, Lost in Translation, Under the Skin and countless others, Scarlett Johansson was, at one point, a rising child star compelled to audition for various roles.

One of them was 1995 Robin Williams movie Jumanji, and although she didn't get the part, her confidence is plain to see. Just three years later, Johansson would stun in Robert Redford's The Horse Whisperer as a young girl recovering from a horrific accident, and it's been onwards and upwards from there.

5. Daisy Ridley – Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

It's easy to forget that, prior to The Force Awakens, no Star Wars movie had been fronted by a female character. Daisy Ridley changed all that with her role as Force-sensitive Jakku scavenger Rey – but, of course, she had to land the role in the first place.

Director J.J. Abrams and the filmmakers faced an uphill struggle to find someone with the compassion and decency to do Rey justice, and Ridley also had to convey the internal emotional struggle within. All of this is on display in the audition video that secured her a place in Star Wars history.

What classic movie auditions have we left off our list? Tweet us your suggestions @Cineworld.