Director Tristram Shapeero has confirmed publicly that he is the director on the other end of Lukas Gage's now-infamous Zoom audition. But, according to Shapeero, he meant his seemingly critical words in a different way.
The British director, whose credits include Veep, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Never Have I Ever, came forward with a piece penned for Deadline. In the essay titled "Zoom and Doom; An Online Audition Goes Awry," Shapeero first rehashed the unmuted comments he made during their August meeting that went viral on Nov. 20 when Gage posted a clip online.
"Despite what is probably wise advice: to say the least possible and let this pass, I have decided to come forward, take responsibility, make the apology Mr. Gage deserves, and offer some background for my unacceptable and insensitive remarks," Shapeero wrote before identifying himself.
After offering the actor a "sincere and unvarnished apology" for his behavior, the director acknowledged Gage "deserved better."
Offering more context on the casting, the director explained, "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."
The director also clarified what he meant by his controversial choice of words. "I was using the word 'poor' in the sense of deserving sympathy, as opposed to any economic judgment," Shapeero wrote. "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."
Still, he is "mortified" over the incident and described the effects the unchangeable situation has had on him. "I move forward from this incident a more empathetic man; a more focused director and," he noted, "I promise, an even better partner to actors from the audition process to the final cut."
In the video Gage initially posted, the Euphoria star was standing in front of a camera in his apartment when Shapeero could be heard talking in the background of the virtual meeting without realizing he was unmuted. "These poor people live in these tiny apartments," Shapeero said. "Like, I'm looking at his, you know, background and he's got his TV and you know..."
Gage interrupted Shapeero to let him know he was unmuted and to move on. "I know it's a sh--ty apartment," he quipped, "that's why give me this job so I can get a better one."
Shapeero, in shock, was apologetic. "Oh my God, I am so, so sorry," he told Gage. The actor responded, "Listen, I'm living in a four by four box, it's fine. Just give me the job and we'll be fine."