Ansel Elgort on ‘The Goldfinch’ and Unsuccessful Auditions

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“The most important thing is that I can be honest with myself. And then you can be a good artist.” – Ansel Elgort

Actor Ansel Elgort has had a career that would be the envy of many young actors, including franchise films (Divergent), blockbusters (Baby Driver and The Fault in Our Stars), the film adaptation of Donna Tartt’s bestseller The Goldfinch, and Steven Spielberg‘s West Side Story. However, he’s also been passed on for several high-profile roles. Speaking with Huffington Post, Elgort talks about his role in The Goldfinch and reflects on his unsuccessful auditions.

Elgort says that he feels that he hadn’t fully found the depth of his character in The Goldfinch even after shooting wrapped. He reveals, “I was just trying to figure out who that character was. Now I feel like I know who Theo is more than ever. If it was a play and it was still running, I’d still be doing him, which would be so interesting.”

Though Elgort has high-profile roles in both The Goldfinch and West Side Story, he also auditioned for two big roles that he didn’t land — Han Solo in Solo: A Star Wars Story and the Elvis biopic directed by Baz Luhrmann. On both the roles he’s successfully and unsuccessfully pursued, Elgort reflects, “Everything that is a good role, you have a fight for. Goldfinch I had to sort of fight for. I did a lot of auditions and made sure I did a good job in those auditions. Same with West Side Story. I auditioned for months and months. I kept having to go in and prove to them that I could do it. The Han Solo thing, I remember having a terrible audition. With Elvis, I think it just wasn’t right. Or so they thought. That’s fine. Baz has a vision.”

Regarding those unsuccessful auditions, Elgort tries to examine what happened — but also looks on the bright side of not getting a part. He explains, “If I don’t get Elvis, that means I get to go do a play sooner. That wasn’t a bad audition. I think it was great. I was in the middle of filming West Side Story, so it was a little hard. I watched a ton of footage and memorized some of his interviews just to get his speech pattern down and sang a bunch of his stuff. But I wasn’t really prepared.”

That frankness about his preparation and bad auditions is part of Elgort’s outlook of telling himself the truth about his career. He concludes, “The most important thing is that I can be honest with myself. And then you can be a good artist. Just being an artist all around, that’s what brings me happiness.”

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