Casting Couch

"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.

Related to Sexual Extortion, the supertrope, for any situation where sexual favors are demanded in return for something a character wants; You Would Make a Great Model, when it's used as a scam and there is no job available; Scarpia Ultimatum, where sexual favors are demanded in return for sparing or saving the life of a loved one; and Dungeon Masters Girlfriend, the person who benefits from a special relationship with someone in charge.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • 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.
  • In Love Celeb, lead female Kirara Nakazono is sent by her cruel manager Hanamaki to what seems to be a series of exhausting auditions in an hotel... but it turns out that the girls attending are supposed to invoke the trope. The poor girl naturally panics and tries to escape, but she gets caught and almost raped by a producer — and then she's saved by the future lead male and local Bastard Boyfriend, Ginzou "Gin" Fujiwara.
  • In one of Ringo's imagine spots in Mawaru-Penguindrum, she speculates that the Takarazuka actress Yuri Tokikago pulled this to get her most famous roles. We never find out whether Yuri actually did it or not.
  • In Baccano!! 1930 - The Rolling Bootlegs, Detective Edward Noah accuses Firo of this when he learns the boy is getting promoted to an executive position in the camorra.
    Edward: It’s because you've got a girly face, right... Just how many executives did you sleep with to rise so high?
  • In Attack on Titan this is implied to be the case with Hitch, one of the Military Police Brigade soldiers. She is shown to be jealous of Annie, who actually earned her place in the Police with her abilities.
  • In the first episode of Megazone 23, Yui is willing to go to a Love Hotel with a director who's "thinking of making her the lead" in his next production.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.

  • Inverted in Souls for Sale. An aspiring actress is quite overt in her approaches to the casting director, but the casting director, who has beautiful women trying to get parts from him all the time, isn't impressed.
  • 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."
  • Angela in American Beauty constantly boasts of doing this in the model industry, but it turns out later that she was making it up.
  • In The Callback Queen, the character of the agent recommends that the actress get it done this way. "It might be time to change your approach; you know, sex."
  • 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. when she found out the truth, she shot him.
  • 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.
  • The director in Black Swan sexually harasses Natalie Portman's character. It's ambiguous throughout the movie whether he's actually trying to extort sex from her in exchange for the lead role in Swan Lake, or if he's just trying to loosen her up for the role.
  • In Bad Education, Ángel approaches his friend Enrique to direct a script that he wrote. Enrique's unconvinced that Ángel would be a good fit for the role, and relents only when Ángel agrees to sleep with him.
  • An uncomfortably present theme throughout All About Eve. The heroine's major worry throughout is that Eve is going to steal her husband or her best friend's husband to help her own career. This trope is played for laughs in another scene, where an up-and-coming starlet (played, appropriately enough, by an up-and-coming Marilyn Monroe) is repeatedly flirty with a pudgy director twice her age at a party.
  • Phantom of the Paradise has the casting for singers being some king of orgy, with the "finalists" being handed to Swan, the producer of the musical, who sleeps with them again.
  • Defied in the 1950's version of Imitation of Life. The main character insists on becoming a famous actress the hard way and achieves it. She doesn't become a movie star like she wanted, though.
  • The South Korean film Norigae is about this, somewhat influenced by the suicide of actress Jang Ja-yeon (Boys Before Flowers), as it was believed that this contributed to her depression.
  • In Return to Cabin by the Lake, the Film Within A Film Cabin by the Lake's director Mike Helton sleeps with both of the female leads by promising them a future career in his movies.
  • Averted in Stage Door; Anthony Powell tries to pull this on Terry Randall (though she has the part already), but she's Genre Savvy enough to see through it.
  • A movie about the making of Gone with the Wind has the producer arrested for violating the Mann Act for getting women to sleep with him for a part in the movie. It is quickly discovered they have the wrong man; some other guy was seducing women by pretending he was the film's producer and offering them parts in the movie.

  • 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 it's based on a true story.
    • The movie tones this down, except in deleted scenes, but the producer complains about another actress. He mentions her talent, but he seems angrier that he won't have another chance to sleep with her, because an actor, part of the Corleone family, got with her first.
  • Discussed in the Honor Harrington novels. Captain Lord Pavel Young is convinced that the title character must be sleeping with an admiral who favors her, when in fact the admiral in question merely thinks (correctly) that she's a brilliant officer, as well as considering her to be the daughter he never had.
  • Jill Castle in the Sidney Sheldon novel "A Stranger In The Mirror" is determined to succeed in Hollywood without doing this, but ultimately has to resort to it. Even crueler, despite this, she never becomes a big star, being doomed to various Hey, It's That Guy! type roles. Honey Taft in the novel "Nothing Lasts Forever" does this to get through college and medical school and to stay in residency even as her superiors realize she's nowhere near as qualified for her position as her grades would indicate (she's not stupid, she just has no affinity for medicine and attended school under orders from her father).
  • One Nero Wolfe story involved the murder of a sleazy Broadway producer who was fond of this particular technique. The killer was one of the dancers he used it on.

    Live Action TV 
  • 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."
  • 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.
    • Also subverted when Liz, figuring this is just the way things work in show business, grits her teeth and sleeps with an executive in order to spare the show from budget cuts, which then happen anyway. She angrily confronts him ("You got your quid, where's my quo?") and he's appalled to learn it wasn't real, asking what kind of person would engage in such a transaction and tearfully apologizing to his dead wife for the disrespect to her memory. Liz ends up getting suspended for sexual harassment and forced to go through a sensitivity training program.
  • 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.
      • She's also a Major herself, meaning she outranks everyone on the base except for the current commanding officer, while sharing the same rank as Major Burns. Sleeping with enlisted men would lead to a court martial.
  • In an early episode of Glee, Sandy refers to a couch in his living room as such.
  • The plot of a Law & 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."
  • Mia in Degrassi wanted to be a model and she thought it would help to have sex with the star of the product. It turns out that he doesn't chose the model after all and she completely regretted what she did.
  • In Smash, this is how Derek normally operates. He hints Karen should sleep with him so she gets the part of Marilyn Monroe in the musical, but she rejects him. Its implied that Derek gave Ivy the role because she slept with and later has a relationship with him.
  • A Mr. Show sketch: A valedictorian of his law school has a law firm interview, only for his three potential employers, in the middle of talking about his potential career tell him they want him to give them a blowjob, much to his horror. When he tries to reject their offer, they reveal that society is built on blowjobs, from law to medicine to religion to even prostitution.
  • The Vicar of Dibley: Inverted and Invoked. This being Dibley, Owen applies for the offered role specifically so he can sleep with Geraldine, who's casting. She naturally turns him down.
  • In the 2 Broke Girls second-season episode "And the Extra Work", both Caroline and Max reject the director's advances and are subsequently shunted off to a peripheral role in the scene shot in the diner, rather than the murder victim.
  • In the episode "Hollywood Babylon" of Supernatural, the director of the horror movie being filmed calls the lead actress pumpkin and flirts with her, which seems to make her uncomfortable.
  • Seen occasionally on Mad Men when the agency's casting commercials — when it's a double-sided aluminum ad, Roger takes it upon himself to pick out the set of twins he likes best for himself and Don. It's also implied that Harry, head of the television department, uses his connections to broker dates with actresses (or tries to). And Megan worries that it will mean career trouble when she and Don decline to swing with her show's head writer and his wife.
  • Discussed in the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Goes to the Theater", where Sharona's sister Gail is accused of murdering a fellow star, Hal Duncan, on stage while Monk and Sharona are attending the play. Monk finds himself taking Hal's place when reenacting the scene. At one point, he overhears the director tell Gail's understudy Jenna Ryan, "It was your idea to hire Hal, and he was terrible!" In the next scene, this conversation:
    Adrian Monk: Kathleen, what did the director mean when he said that…Jenna made them hire Hal Duncan?
    Kathleen: It was no secret. Jenna wanted them to hire Hal. I’ll tell you what I heard. She slept with the producer then threatened to tell his wife unless they did.
    Sharona Fleming: Why? Were they dating?
    Kathleen: No. Nobody could figure it out.

  • 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.
  • Heart's song "Private Audition" (from the album of the same name) is about this trope: the singer goes for an audition but its implied the (presumably) producer guy is really interested in sex.

  • In Follies, retired Broadway producer Dimitri Weismann brags about having used this on his girls.
  • In Evita, this is mostly how Eva works her way up before marrying Juan Peron.
    "Did you hear that? They called me a whore. They actually called me a whore!"
    "But Senora Peron, 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 with his pants down.
  • 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.
  • In The Phantom of the Opera, people are quick to assume Christine's been getting lucky breaks because she's sleeping with Raoul de Chagny, the opera's patron. Naturally she isn't; the lucky breaks are because the guy who truly runs the theatre, the Phantom, is completely obsessed with her.
  • Chicago, as mentioned above.
  • Diana from Lend Me A Tenor will do anything to make it as an opera singer. This combined with a Mistaken Identity and a hurricane of Innocent Innuendos leads to the man she's trying to seduce thinking she's a hooker. (Not that it stops him from sleeping with her.)

    Video Games 
  • 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. Made even worse at the fact that it was the girl's aunt who set it up. The aunt tricked her niece to come to Hollywood telling her she could be a star then getting her to sleep with a pedophile producer all so she could use the footage to blackmail the producer and make it so he gave her the star role in his next film. Made even worse at the face she suffers no punishment for this.

  • Cheerleaders in Birthday Gift do this to "make the team".
  • Megatokyo:
    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.>
  • Ménage ŕ 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. "Welcome to the ugly side of show business."
    • Zii's method of auditioning singers for her old band apparently amounted to this.
  • Eloise of Sandra on the Rocks provides the page image. Her girlfriend Nadine flat-out says this is how Eloise has built her career — and Eloise really can't deny it.
    Eloise: You know I worked my butt off to get where I am.
    Nadine: I know. I am reminded every time I see you walking funny before a shoot.
    Eloise: Sh-shut up!
    • Nadine also remains blissfully ignorant of the fact that Eloise is also quite obviously using her the same way, thinking that Eloise is with her purely out of love. It's unclear whether or not Eloise has genuine feelings for Nadine, but the fact that Nadine is a Daddy's Girl who can ask her rich and influential father to give Eloise modelling gigs is undoubtedly a large reason Eloise is with her.
  • Something Positive has Monette accused of this by an older co-worker, who says 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".
  • 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)

    Western Animation 
  • 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 Catherine the Great! Or should I say, Catherine the So-So!
  • One episode of Futurama has Bender pretend to be a moviemaker so that he can seduce some "young and naive" fembots. Then the Robot Devil shows up and drags him right off to Hell for that and other sins.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Nelson's mom plans to move to Hollywood because she landed a leading role in a movie production of Macbeth by sleeping with the director. She is most excited about doing a topless scene, even though she doesn't ''have'' to.
  • An episode of The Critic had a beautiful actress with an upcoming movie start dating Jay. His actor friend Jeremy says this trope is happening, but Jay insists that it's love. When he sees the movie, she turns out to be a horrendous actress, and in his review he says so as nicely as he can. The next time she sees him, she slaps him, admits she just wanted a good review, and storms off. Made even more ironic is the fact if she put that skill to her actual acting career she would have been a great actress.