A Selection of Iconic TV Character Audition Tapes

Each September brings a flood of new shows, the best of which let us inside the world of unique and fascinating characters. But before we meet such memorable casts as those that populate Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Lost, the actors who play those iconic roles have to convince casting agents and producers that they’re the best women and men for the job. Although far too few audition tapes are made public, we’ve tracked down some of the most interesting ones out there, each telling in its own way. Now, if only we could get AMC to give us Jon Hamm’s Don Draper casting video, we’d be totally set.

Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, Breaking Bad

We may find it difficult to believe that Aaron Paul wasn’t a shoo-in to play Jesse Pinkman, the young meth dealer with a conscience. But according to a 2010 New York magazine profile, he was considered too handsome for the role — until he started performing. At that moment, creator Vince Gilligan recalls, “I knew he was the guy.” Paul’s Jesse is instantly recognizable as the character who becomes the moral center of Breaking Bad, from the goofy nervousness to the glimpses of humor and sincerity behind his shady exterior.