Interview: Adam Irigoyen on ‘Away’, Preparing for a Role and Self-Tape Audition Advice

Adam Irigoyen talks about Away, how he got his start as a young actor, auditions and self-tapes and one really bad audition!

Photo Credit: Orion Bustamante (@shotbyorion)

“I start to ask questions: how’s this guy different from me? How are we the same? And just kind of start to get an idea for what I really need to focus on.” – Adam Irigoyen on Preparing for Auditions

Adam Irigoyen got his start at an early age, booking his first guest starring role on the Disney Channels, Wizards of Waverly Place. From there, he quickly became a series regular on another Disney show, Shake It Up, starring as Deuce Martinez, opposite Zendaya and Bella Thorne. Once that ended ,he quickly built an impressive resume, appearing on The Fosters, The Last Ship, 2 Broke Girls among others.

He’s not starring alongside Hilary Swank and Josh Charles in Netflix’s Away, about an astronaut (Swank) who struggles with leaving her husband (Charles) and daughter (Talitha Eliana Bateman) behind to embark on a dangerous three-year mission Mars.

In this interview, Irigoyen talks about Away and how he got the role, how he got his start as a young actor, auditions and self-tapes and one really bad audition!

Tell me about Away. It looks great.

Adam Irigoyen: Oh, thank you. I appreciate that. So, Away centers around Hilary Swank who plays Emma Green and it follows her and this group of astronauts who go on the 1st manned mission to Mars. And that’s pretty much what it’s about. But the show is really pushed forward by the relationships that the astronauts have with each other and the relationships of those that they leave back home.

I play Isaac and I help Alexis, Emma Green’s daughter on the show, I help her cope with these outstanding circumstances and it’s really fun to watch.

How did you get the part? Was it a long process?

Adam Irigoyen: It’s actually funny, when I got the audition it was kind of like a dry period. I hadn’t really had many auditions for a couple months. And that day… when it rains it pours, I had like 5 auditions. So I was running all over town trying to do my best to keep all these characters in my head. But, honestly I was having the time of my life.

When I went and did the audition, it was pretty regular. I try not to put too much thought into it because you know it is Hollywood and the moment you get your hopes up they get shot down. But about a week later, they called and said, “Hey, you’re gonna be testing tomorrow at a production office.” And then they called back and said, “Well, actually, you’re not coming into our production office anymore. We’re gonna fly you up in Canada.”

So, I flew out to Canada and I was there for a couple of hours while I tested and met with Andrew [Hinderacker] , the show creator, and read with Talitha, who plays Alexis and then I flew back that same day. It was definitely the craziest audition process I’d ever had. Thankfully, I got the call that that it was official and that I was going to be working on the show.

I’ve had 3 auditions in a day, but never 5. How do you keep everything separate in your mind?

Adam Irigoyen: That one was a little crazy. I had never had that kind of experience before. It’s pretty uncommon. I was definitely excited for the opportunities.

I think the biggest thing was just taking it audition by audition. And not getting ahead of myself, you know? Because at the end of the day, I wanted to give each one equal importance. I didn’t want to disparage one character because I was excited for another one. I did my best to try to focus intently. I did all my homework beforehand. As an actor, I’m sure you understand that it’s  really all about making sure you do the homework so that when you show up ready to play, you just live in it.

We you get asked to audition, what are the first things you do preparation wise to get ready?

Adam Irigoyen: The first thing I really do is that I start to ask questions: how’s this guy different from me? How are we the same? And just kind of start to get an idea for what I really need to focus on.

Because each character is different. Sometimes you’ll have a role that is really similar to you in a lot of ways and you don’t have to work a lot on those aspect of that character, because they’re already a part of who you are. And then obviously you have characters who are completely unlike you, and you have to do way more research. That’s kind of where I start.

And then I have a script analysis breakdown that I follow that I created and I just start to ask a bunch of questions about who this guy is, what’s important to him, who he’s talking to, what do they mean to him and things of that nature.

Do you like to audition?

Adam Irigoyen: You know what? I do. I’ve been doing this since I was 11 years old, so my thoughts on auditioning have changed over the years. When I was younger,  I was very eager for every audition and really wanted to get every single role.

And the thing is, overtime I started to realize that we as actors can really only control like about 12% of their decision, solely based on our acting. There’s so many other factors that go into play that are just really out of our control.

And I think that what happens to a lot of new actors, is they don’t make that realization. And therefore they think, “Oh, I must be doing something wrong because they’re not asking me.” But in reality it might not even have anything to do with you or your acting ability. It’s a look or it’s chemistry? The list goes on and on.

Once I made that realization, I stopped viewing auditioning as an opportunity for a job. Now I see it as an opportunity to do the work. An opportunity to practice and hone my skills as an actor. Ever since then, I’ve enjoyed the process of auditioning a lot more.

What about self-tapes?

Adam Irigoyen: I love self-tapes. When I first started out, self-taping was fairly new and obviously it wasn’t the preferred method. But, as time has gone on and especially now, in these crazy quarantine times, self-taping is the way to go.

For me, I honestly love it. Like I said, I view it as an opportunity to practice. I feel like taping in the comfort of your own home with a reader you’re comfortable with… There’s a looseness to it.

One of the very first things you booked was Wizards of Waverly Place and then from that, you got an audition for Shake It Up and obviously you booked that. How did both of those auditions come about because you were really young at the time and hadn’t done a lot of work.

Adam Irigoyen: Yeah, I really hadn’t. Wizards of Waverly Place was my first guest star ever. With that, I had just gotten an audition they seemed to like me, my attitude and my personality. I was super, super  grateful because at the time,  I mean Wizards of Waverly Place was like my favorite show. So, to even be a part of it and to work with the people behind it, I was just blown away.

And for Shake It Up, I think what happened was the people at the Disney Channel had maybe seen me on Wizards and probably kept a watchful eye on me, they tend to do that. And funny enough, the audition that I got for Shake It Up, I wasn’t even in town, so I had to send in a self-tape. This was 2009.

It was funny, nowadays, you set up your ring light and you do it on your iPhone or your camera or whatever. iPhone’s weren’t what they are today, so I did it on a flip camera.

Do you have any self-tape tips?

Adam Irigoyen: I think with self-taping, a pit that people can fall into is one of two things… they are either their own worst critic and they don’t have a good, kind of, meter of whether their good or not. I feel like sometimes actors, we tend to want perfection. At least for me, I speak for myself. You know, we tend to want perfection and sometimes you have to realize that perfect isn’t always right. And really in life, there’s no such thing as perfection.

And then the other thing, people shouldn’t play it safe. Just because they’re in their living room, I don’t think they should be too comfortable. I think that that’s a giant pit. Whereas maybe you don’t have as much anxiety as you would normally have going into an audition room, that that anxiety might push you forward to a great performance. So I would say don’t get too comfortable and don’t be afraid to make bold choices, even if you are just in your living room.

Those are some great tips. And then, the question that I love to ask… what’s been your worst audition?

Adam Irigoyen: Ha…. My worst audition… there was a casting director who I just think didn’t get it. I had gone into this audition and I had been looking forward to it more than you could possibly imagine. It was probably, I think, the best audition that I had gotten up until that point in my career. I put so much work into it and I was so ready to throw down.

When I went into the room, the casting director did that thing… that I hate when casting directors do:  she gave me notes before I even performed the scene. Which to me is annoying for a couple of reasons, but mostly because if I had already made those choices to begin with now you’ll never know because you’ll just think it’s from what you said. And that to me is annoying because I at least want credit for the choices I made.

And then, for whatever reason this casting director we really wanted pace. So, she told me, “If if at any time I feel as though you need to pick up the pace, I’ll just kind of wave my hand in this circular motion.”

At that point in my career and in my life, I didn’t really say what I wanted to say, so I was just kind of like not trying to piss her off. I just really wanted to do good by her because I really wanted the part.

And while the scene was going on, she did this thing with her hand and it was so distracting and I was already in my head about it. I think honestly it was the worst solution I’ve ever had and I was so upset and I vowed that the next time that I had an opinion in the casting office, I would not just be quiet about it.

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