EXCLUSIVE: A clip from an online audition shared recently by actor Lukas Gage quickly went viral and made waves in Hollywood. Now the director heard in the video, Tristram Shapeero, is coming forward and taking responsibility.
British-born Shapeero, writing exclusively for Deadline, provides his account of the infamous audition, apologizes to Gage and provides context for some of the wording in his “insensitive remarks.” The prolific TV director, who has worked on such series as The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Never Have I Ever, also explains why he decided to speak out and what he will take away from the Zoom debacle.
Zoom and Doom; An Online Audition Goes Awry
By Tristram Shapeero
You probably don’t know who I am, but you’re likely familiar with my story. An actor, Lukas Gage, posted a clip on social media taken from a Zoom casting he and I had been a part of back in August. During it, an unmuted director makes reference to tiny apartments and ‘these poor people,’ referring to actors. The quick-witted Gage responds that he knows his apartment is ‘shitty’ and that is why he needs this job so he could get a better one.
Since Gage posted the video it has had millions of views and he has received support from all corners of the acting world and from many of his fans. Initially the director was not identified, although there was much speculation about who it was, which ultimately proved correct.
Despite what is probably wise advice: to say the least possible and let this pass, I have decided to come forward, take responsibility, make the apology Mr. Gage deserves, and offer some background for my unacceptable and insensitive remarks. I am Tristram Shapeero, a 20-year veteran television director, half in the UK, and the second half here in the US.
First and foremost I offer Mr. Gage a sincere and unvarnished apology for my offensive words, my unprofessional behavior during the audition and for not giving him the focus and attention he deserved. My job is to evaluate performers against the part I am trying to cast. Lukas deserved better.
This Zoom audition took place in August, after four months of lockdown. A number of my co-workers were also on the auditions which happened over several days. It was emotional to see actors work so hard to win the few parts available and we were deeply moved by the passion of these young people under the extraordinary circumstances.
I was using the word ‘poor’ in the sense of deserving sympathy, as opposed to any economic judgment. My words were being spoken from a genuine place of appreciation for what the actors were having to endure, stuck in confined spaces, finding it within themselves to give a role-winning performance under these conditions.
As I say on the video, I’m mortified about what happened. While I can’t put the proverbial toothpaste back in the tube, I move forward from this incident a more empathetic man; a more focused director and I promise, an even better partner to actors from the audition process to the final cut.
With humility and gratitude,
Here is the video, which Gage posted with the caption “psa if you’re a sh*t talking director make sure to mute ur sh*t on zoom mtgings.” In it, Shapeero is heard saying “These poor people live in these tiny apartments. I’m looking at his background and he’s got his TV,” to which Gage responds, “I know it’s a sh*tty apartment, that’s why give me this job so I can get a better one.” Realizing that his mic had been unmuted for the private comment, Shapeero profusely apologizes and is heard saying that he was “mortified”. Seth MacFarlane, Billy Eichner, Judd Apatow, Zelda Williams, Patrick Wilson were among a slew of celebrities who showed support for Gage after the clip went viral.