At Stand-In Central, we get a lot of emails along these lines:
Hi! A lot of people tell me I look a lot like [insert name of famous actor or actress]. I wanted to see if you have any advice for becoming that person’s stand-in.
In general, we here at Stand-In Central do not have any surefire advice for landing a gig as a stand-in for a particular actor. However, there are a few things we can say that may lead you down the path. Also, there are a few things we can say about how serious the pursuit of stand-in work for an actor should be taken.
General Approaches to Becoming an Actor’s Stand-In
Move to Where There’s the Work
Many of the emails we get from people wanting to become an actor’s stand-in come from parts of the U.S. outside of New York City or Los Angeles, where many of these actors live and where lots of production is concentrated. In general, the first piece of advice would be to move to those cities where the actor lives and/or works as you are more likely to be considered for a stand-in job if you are immediately available in one of these cities.
Contact Background Casting Offices about Your Similarity
Getting in touch with and/or registering with the background casting directors for any project the actor is working in is another piece of general advice on becoming an actor’s stand-in. This means usually sending to the background casting director a photo postcard of yourself and/or a headshot and résumé of your acting, production, and/or stand-in experience. Be sure to include a note as to your similarity to the actor, as well as your sizes and appearance — especially your height but also your hair color and any deviations in your hair style from what is pictured. If you know someone involved in the production, it might be worth mentioning that person’s name in your correspondence. (If that person is an assistant director, that is a name that may carry the most weight.) Usually, background casting directors cast stand-ins, but sometimes traditional casting directors will cast the stand-ins for a project. Figure out the most appropriate casting office for your submission (or maybe mail to both).
Work on Sets
Working on television and film sets — usually as a background actor — is also a very good piece of advice for becoming an actor’s stand-in. Working on sets gives you valuable job experience with the rhythms of production and the expectations of, say, stand-ins working on these productions. While you could be hired as a stand-in without any prior on-set experience, having experience can make a huge difference in whether you are able to handle the responsibilities and challenges of standing in. Stand-in jobs range from the easy to the difficult, and all should be taken very seriously. You should not assume that because you look similar to an actor, you have it easy or you have job security as a stand-in. You serve an important function on set when you are standing in, and your similarity in appearance to your actor does not mean you get star treatment.
Bring Your Expectations Down
In fact, it should be noted that standing in can be relatively unglamorous. Some people interested in becoming an actor’s stand-in may think that with such a job comes travel, accommodations, fame, and publicity. While that kind of attention may befall stand-ins for exceptional actors on exceptional productions, in general when you are standing in you will have a low profile on set and few accommodations — and more often than not, your work will go uncredited in the end credits for the project. Standing in is hardly glamorous for most pursuing the line of work, and compensation is, on average, modest.
Pursuing Stand-In Work for an Actor Is Serious
Of the people who write in to Stand-In Central interested in becoming an actor’s stand-in, many of them seem to be operating off of the encouragement of others in their lives repeating the similarity the person has with an actor, and perhaps being urged, “You should become that actor’s stand-in!”
If you are only pursuing standing in for that actor on a lark, keep in mind that standing in often requires long hours on set (think 12 hours or more on many days), attention to detail (notating blocking your actor performs in rehearsal, then performing it accurately), and responsibility (getting to set on time, being available on set the moment you’re needed, responding to instructions from the crew while shots are set up, etc.). It is not a job for someone thinking it is merely standing in place while a shot is set up. Stand-ins often have to re-create scenes their actors are in, sometimes read or memorize lines, and be very aware of their on-set surroundings. This is to say that standing in is more than “just standing there looking like an actor.”
A Quick Note on Seeking Stand-In Jobs
This all said, Stand-In Central cannot personally assist a person in landing a stand-in job for an actor. Use the above information or the tremendous wealth of information on this free website (or in our downloadable ebook, The Stand-In Handbook) to guide you in your serious pursuit of becoming an actor’s stand-in. If you decide to carry on, good luck!
How have you landed the stand-in job for a well-known actor? If you have pointers, share below!