I am originally from Hungary but now live in London, where I studied acting. It is ironic that I got my first international job while I was in the UK, but the series was actually shot in my home country.
It started with an email from a Hungarian casting director, Katalin Baranyi, who knew my work and asked if I was interested in auditioning for an upcoming Netflix series called The Witcher. She told me that although they were shooting the show in Hungary, the director was keen on hiring international actors, and that she thought I would be just right for the role of Anica.
As I was based in the UK, I could just send a self-tape. Then Katalin mentioned that the director, Alik Sakharov, would be present for the casting.
I couldn’t miss the opportunity to meet him, so I told her that ‘just by coincidence’ I would be in Hungary at the same time he was. I immediately booked myself a flight. Once that was done, I started intensive research.
I knew the programme was based on a game, so I spent a long time playing the game to really understand the world I was about to enter.
Even with all the preparation I had done, there was a split second as I was entering the casting room when I wondered whether I would be able to speak. I just couldn’t believe I was actually there about to do this thing.
I was introduced to the director and he was very friendly with a calming energy. I was still nervous and trying to make odd jokes but he seemed to like it. He was reading with me, giving me instructions, and it just felt so natural. We had a great time and laughed a lot. Being yourself is half the battle in any audition and I believe it was a combination of that and thorough research that won me the part.
Doing extensive research is not exclusive to ‘big’ roles – if I only have one line, I still try to do as much as I can to build a character and create the background story. Even if what you do in advance isn’t what the director had in mind, at least you have something to work with.
Training: East 15 Acting School
Theatre includes: Twelfth Night (Shakespeare’s Globe), A Little Hotel on the Side (Corbett Theatre, Essex), Lies. All Lies (Drayton Arms Theatre, London), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Chamber Theatre, Hungary)
TV includes: The Witcher (Netflix), Genius (National Geographic)
Agent: Lola Williams at NWM
Szandra Asztalos was talking to John Byrne