Actress and author Lena Dunham is best known for her roles on the HBO series Girls. Now she recalled losing a film role at the age of 12 after refusing to “smile on command”.
Dunham explained that she met director Penny Marshall in 2001 when she was 12 when she auditioned for the film. She recalled auditioning on The Jess Cagle Show when she was asked if she’d met anyone related to one of her favorite films, A League Of Their Own.
After she refused to take part in an introductory assignment, her role was given to someone else. “I understand why I didn’t get the part. She asked all the young actors to say their names, their height and their background and to smile… and I said, ‘I’m Lena, I’m from New York and I don’t smile on command.’ And Penny Marshall said, ‘That’s called acting, honey,'” explained Dunham.
Dunham’s career is still going on
In retrospect, she supports Marshall’s decision. Dunham: The thing is, she was right. Would you hire an actor to say, ‘Sorry, I can’t smile on command’? The thing is, I agree with Penny on this point. I remember coming home and knowing I had sort of ‘fucked up’ and my mom says I lay in bed for a week moaning, ‘My career is over’.”
Riding In Cars With Boys is based on Beverly Donofrio’s autobiography. The main roles are played by Drew Barrymore, Steve Zahn, Brittany Murphy and James Woods. It was the last film directed by Marshall, who passed away in 2018 at the age of 75.
In April of this year, Dunham celebrated the 10th anniversary of Girls with an essay about the making of the series. After its premiere in 2012, the series ran for six seasons and ended in April 2017.