Lena Dunham failed her audition for Riding in Cars with Boys by refusing to smile on command for director Penny Marshall.
The Girls actress revealed during an appearance on SiriusXM's The Jess Cagle Show that she messed up her audition in front of Marshall, the director of her most-watched film, A League of Their Own, at the age of 12.
"I understand why I didn't get the role," Dunham admitted. "Because she asked all the young actors to say our name, our height, where we were from, and smile... and I said, 'I'm Lena, I'm from New York, and I don't smile on command.' And Penny Marshall said, 'It's called acting, honey.'"
Even though she didn't get the part, Dunham harbours no hard feelings against the Big filmmaker.
"The thing is, she was right. Would you hire an actor who is like, 'I'm sorry, I can't smile on command?'" she reasoned. "I'm with Penny on this one. I remember going home and knowing that I had 'screwed the pooch' (made a big mistake) so to speak, and my mother says that I laid in bed for like a week and moaned 'my career is over' even though I had only read one audition."
Riding in Cars with Boys stars Drew Barrymore, Steve Zahn, Brittany Murphy, and James Woods and was released in 2001. It was the last film to be directed by Marshall before she died in 2018.