Janeane Garofalo’s “Mona Lisa” tears

In the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, Janeane Garofalo describes her worst audition ever. It seems she was up for a role in Mona Lisa Smile. Yes, that well-mannered 2003 movie starring Julia Roberts as a spirited art professor who liberates some 1950s Wellesley girls from their suffocating mores (sadly, not in the way you might hope). Let’s just take a moment to appreciate the incongruity of the whole idea. Can you imagine tattooed Janeane strutting down those halls of decorum?

Julia and Julia can’t imagine it either:

Actually, Roberts took the time to read with Garofalo at her audition and tried to encourage her, but her vote of confidence had the opposite effect for Janeane.

“I burst into tears and wept at the reading. I was overcome by the feeling that I was going to let her down. The director told my agent, ‘That’s one of the worst auditions I have ever seen.’”

The part eventually went to Marcia Gay Harden, or, as I like to call her, a very good actress with a very unfortunate name.

Wait — Harden plays the stuffy etiquette professor in Mona Lisa Smile. Garofalo as an etiquette professor? Uh, no. A professor of cool, sure, or a professor of snark or self-deprecating humor. But not etiquette. Maybe of cute hats and groovy specs:

I can’t really imagine her in that movie at all, not even as the closeted nurse (played by Juliet Stevenson). Garofalo herself acknowledges that it was probably all for the best.

“Maybe it was a blessing. I would have had to wear tight dresses and get up early to have makeup slapped on my face.”

Slapped? Hmm. That kind of etiquette professor would definitely be a good role for you, Janeane. I’m off to work on the script.

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