Director Tristram Shapeero has come forward to apologise for criticising Euphoria star Lukas Gage’s “tiny apartment” while unmuted during a virtual audition.
The American actor, 25, shared a video of their exchange on social media last Friday, in which the then-unnamed director can be heard commenting on Gage’s Zoom background.
Thinking his voice is muted, Mr Shapeero says: “These poor people live in these tiny apartments. Like I’m looking at his, you know, background and he’s got his TV.”
Gage, smiling, replies: “I know it’s a shitty apartment. That’s why give me this job so I can get a better one.”
Mr Shapeero, a British television director who has worked on shows including The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, has now come forward to offer “a sincere and unvarnished apology”.
Writing for Deadline, he confirmed that reports identifying him as the director in question had been correct, before praising Gage for his “quick-witted” response.
He said: “This Zoom audition took place in August, after four months of lockdown. A number of my co-workers were also on the auditions which happened over several days.
“It was emotional to see actors work so hard to win the few parts available and we were deeply moved by the passion of these young people under the extraordinary circumstances.
“I was using the word ‘poor’ in the sense of deserving sympathy, as opposed to any economic judgment.
“My words were being spoken from a genuine place of appreciation for what the actors were having to endure, stuck in confined spaces, finding it within themselves to give a role-winning performance under these conditions.
“As I say on the video, I’m mortified about what happened. While I can’t put the proverbial toothpaste back in the tube, I move forward from this incident a more empathetic man; a more focused director and I promise, an even better partner to actors from the audition process to the final cut.”
After the video went viral, Gage received messages of support from director Judd Apatow, actor Kevin McHale and actress January Jones.
McHale wrote on Twitter: “Thank u @lukasgage for posting this. Actors have to walk out on the plank and be open and vulnerable in an audition and too often the people on the other side have 0 regard for what that takes and how personal it is. f*** ’em. (also that room is nice & u handled that v well)”