Casting Couch

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"I don't suppose I'm the only one who's had to fuck her way to the top."
Jerilee Randall, accepting "the Award" (no, not the Oscar) in The Lonely Lady

The time-dishonored method for young aspiring actresses (and actors, too) to advance their careers: by sleeping with the producer. Although the term itself stems from the entertainment industry, the concept itself is universal and spans numerous business paths.

Naturally, this is very common in porn. There are sites (claiming) to specialize in it.

To avoid controversy, Real Life examples should not be discussed. Examples should stick to this trope as treated in fictional shows about show business.

See also Sexual Extortion and You Would Make a Great Model.

No real life examples, please; All The Tropes is not a gossip site.

Examples of Casting Couch include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Tokyo Babylon, Subaru encounters the ghost of an aspiring actress who had resorted to this to land a minor role in a film. While the producer did give her the part, the film ended up getting canceled because the lead actress had a breakdown and walked off the set. The woman threw herself off a building in despair shortly afterward.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Starlight in The Boys is told she has to give The Homelander, A-Train and Black Noir oral sex or she won't be allowed on the team.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • There's a Tear Jerker example in The Godfather when the mother of a twelve-year-old actress hands her daughter over to producer Jack Woltz (a thinly disguised Jack Warner). Insiders say the child is based on the young Elizabeth Taylor, who went through this with L.B. Mayer.

Film[edit | hide]

  • Heather Graham's character in Bowfinger boinks her way up the ladder, starting with the writer on up to "one of the most powerful lesbians in Hollywood."
    • There's an old joke about "a starlet so stupid she slept with a writer."
  • Angela in American Beauty constantly boasts of doing this in the model industry, but it turns out later that she was making it up.
  • Team America: World Police makes a joke out of it (Spotswoode orders Gary to give him oral in order to join the team, then says he's just joking), then plays it straight (the next time Spotswoode asks for it, he means it).
  • "Audition" videos are their own subgenre of pornography.
  • In L.A. Confidential, young actor Matt Reynolds is busted by Jack Vincennes and Sid Hudgens for marijuana possession. To wipe the pot bust off his record and maybe score a role in a crime procedural, he agrees to seduce a homosexual D.A. and get caught with him in flagrante by Hudgens. Unfortunately, he ends up on a motel carpet with a sliced throat, halfway through the movie.
  • In Scream 3, a character (played by Carrie Fisher) says she was going to play Princess Leia, but lost the role to "the one who sleeps with George Lucas." (Also a Take That Me, because Fisher - a noted script doctor - rewrote her own dialogue.)
    • Fisher continued with this joke in the AFI tribute to Lucas, concluding her speech/roast to him with the statement "I hope I slept with you to get that job, because if not, who the hell was that guy?!"
    • In the same film, it is also revealed that Angelina got cast in Stab 3 because she screwed the producer. Seeing as how this is a Slasher Movie, Death by Sex kicks in almost immediately after this revelation.
    • And at the end, we learn that Sidney's mother was traumatized by the events at a party where aspiring actresses could meet producers willing to trade roles for sex.
  • In The Party, Peter Sellers' character stops a director (played by Gavin McLeod!) from forcing himself sexually on an aspiring actress. The humiliated director swears that she's through in the business before she'd started.
  • Gender Flipped example: In Liar Liar, Jim Carrey's character, a chronically lying lawyer, has sex with his (female, good-looking) boss in the hope that it'll help him get promoted. Unfortunately for him, his son's birthday wish takes effect just after he finishes...
  • A deleted scene from Big Fat Liar shows Marty Wolf being interrupted by work just as he's trying to get the ball rolling.
  • In Chicago, Roxie is implied to have slept with Fred Caseley because he was lying about having connections in the show biz and finding her chances.
  • The whole premise of The Lonely Lady. Apparently everyone in Hollywood wants to get into the pants of aspiring screenwriters, or at least aspiring screenwriters who look like Pia Zadora.
  • In |Seed of Chucky, Jennifer Tilly (the character played by herself) seduces a director for the part of the Virgin Mary.
  • In Bunty Aur Babli, Vimmi wants to enter the Miss India pageant, but when she refuses to comply with this trope, she is dropped from the contestant roster.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In Entourage, the guys often try this, but they never really score, probably because it would be too unsavory.
    • In one particular episode, a well-heeled investor wants Vince to sleep with his (the investor's) wife, before he'll front the money needed to make Vince's pet project. Apparently, she's a big fan. Vince ultimately refuses and the guys finance the movie themselves.
  • Friends: Joey is led to believe that he will not get a part on Days of Our Lives if he does not sleep with the producer. He decides not to sleep with her because he does not wish to get the part that way. However, when he stands up to her he is offered a better part (and ends up sleeping with her anyway).
    • Given Joey's immediate reaction after telling his friends (that he needs to go take a shower), it seems more likely that rather than offer him a part because he stood up to her, she instead upped her offer and he accepted it.
  • This trope is discussed in an episode of Chuck. Lester and Jeff are put in charge of hiring a new Green Shirt. They decide to hire the "Buy More Babe," and try to invoke this response in the models they interview. They fail miserably.
  • In Castle, an actress begins a relationship with Castle and Beckett accuses her of only sleeping with him to get cast in the film adaptation of the Nikki Heat books. Castle brings up the possibility to her which sends the actress running away crying. It later turns out that Beckett was right as one of their suspects', the head of TV network, alibi was that he sleeping with the same actress the night of the victim's murder because she wanted a role on one of his sitcoms. The actress later seems a bit remorseful that she had to lie to Castle about her intentions.
    • Castle later recommends her for the role, because she was a good enough actress to fool him.
    • Also, similarly, in a case with models, it's revealed that a particular photographer will only take bad shots unless the model agrees to sleep with him. One model comments that she enjoyed it.
  • A Saturday Night Live sketch in 1995 was modeled as a TV show called The Casting Couch, hosted by a caricatured portrayal of Robert Evans who would invite young women who want to make it big as an actress to his house for an "interview."
  • In Married... with Children, Al gets himself a Vanity License Plate that reads something like "PRODUCR" for a trip to Hollywood.
  • Subverted in 30 Rock when Jenna sleeps with the man she thinks is Jack's boss to avoid being the actor who's about to be fired from the show. Except that the man was an actor playing Jack's boss in the upcoming sketch that she mistook for the real thing. Also, the rumor about them firing an actor was completely made up.
  • In M*A*S*H more than once other staff members make remarks suggesting that Margaret has slept around to help her career. And while it's never shown (or confirmed by "Hot Lips"), it is made clear she has had sexual relations with high ranking officers. Of course, this is all the old Margaret of the early years. It's not the later, one-of-the-gang Margaret.
    • Even in her Hot Lips days it's suggested she only slept with High ranking officers because that's the kind of man she likes, and that she hasn't used it to her advantage.
  • In an early episode of Glee, Sandy refers to a couch in his living room as such.
  • The plot of a Law and Order Special Victims Unit episode dealt with this.
  • A Monty Python sketch has a rural gent (John Cleese) whose "rustic monologue" is cut short complain: "I'm not sleeping with that producer again."

Music[edit | hide]

  • Willie Colon's song "Talento de TV" is about a impossibly hot but otherwise untalented girl who manages to become the best paid TV star, mostly because her hotness, but also because she seduced the dramatic production executive to get a role despite her shortcomings.

Theater[edit | hide]

  • In Follies, retired Broadway producer Dimitri Weismann brags about having used this on his girls.
  • In Evita, this is mostly how Eva worked her way up before marrying Juan Peron.

"Did you hear that? They called me a whore. They actually called me a whore!"
"But señora Perón, it's an easy mistake. I'm still called an admiral, yet I gave up the sea long ago."

  • In City of Angels, Buddy Fidler casts his wife, Carla Haywood, as Alaura, and cheats on her with the starlet who plays Mallory. As Carla says, "It's hard to replace someone who's sleeping with the director. Of course, in this director's case, that's a cottage industry." The Show Within a Show also has a flashback in which Irwin S. Irving (Buddy's counterpart) is caught trying to make a star out of Bobbi.
  • In Fame, it is implied Carmen Diaz is stuck in a nightmarish prolonged casting couch situation, beginning with the classic scene but turning into an abusive relationship.
  • Played in Phantom of the Opera: people tend to assume that Christine has gotten her lucky breaks because of the trope. In truth, she isn't; her lucky breaks are because the Phantom, the actual master in the shadows of the Opera house, is totally obsessed with her.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • L.A. Noire has a case called The Fallen Idol, where Detective Phelps investigates into the film industry. This trope is brought up more than once and one of its victims is a fifteen-year-old girl.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

Erika: <Did you sleep with the producer?>
Kimiko: <NO. I did NOT.>
Erika: <Do you need me to?>
Kimiko: <NO.>
Erika: <Well, that's a shame.>

  • Cheerleaders in Birthday Gift do this to "make the team".
  • Gender-inverted in Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic with the drow, a matriarchal society. Wolf, a high-ranking male, has absolutely no problem with the concept of sleeping your way up...

High Elf: How did you get this job, anyway? Did you march into battle in a dress?
Other High Elf: Wield a warrior handbag?
Wolf: I slept my way to this position.
(He smirks, they both sulk)

  • Ménage à 3:
    • Dillon and Amber both do this . . . and then end up having sex with each other to satisfy a producer's Twincest fantasy (Dillon was in drag). Amber demonstrates her experience in this area by negotiating a better contract before agreeing.
    • Zii's method of auditioning singers for her old band apparently amounted to this.
  • Something*Positive had Monette accused of this by an older co-worker, who said something along the lines of "keeping on your back to get to the top". Monette's retort? "I learned from your mistakes, since all you got out of it was bad knees and halitosis".

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In Clone High, JFK decides to make a movie for the film festival just to take advantage of the opportunities offered by this trope. He never actually makes his movie.

Keep it down! Some of us are trying to nail Catharine the Great! Or should I say, Catharine the So-So!