While going to auditions and casting calls definitely increase your chances of becoming discovered, sometimes it’s just random luck that you get your big break. Directors or agents can see you grocery shopping or walking your dog.
Natalie Portman was discovered at the age of 11 by a modeling agent. She was eating pizza at a local shop when the Revlon agent approached her and encouraged her to do modeling. Knowing modeling wasn’t her true dream, she turned them down saying she wanted to pursue acting instead. In 1994 she got her first big break playing a role in the film Leon: The Professional.
After getting a couple roles, Harrison Ford decided to opt for a more stable job by focusing on career as a carpenter. A casting consultant was insistent that he’d be great for George Lucas’s new film “Star Wars”. Lucas was intent on hiring all new actors for the project though and Ford had already been involved in American Graffiti. The casting consultant was intent on getting Ford noticed though so he arranged for Harrison Ford to install a door at Lucas’s film studio. Lucas noticed him and quickly cast him for the role as Han Solo.
When Mel Gibson was driving a friend to an audition, he certainly wasn’t expecting to get discovered. The director noticed him because his face was all bruised and scratched from getting in a bar fight the night before. He thought he’d be a perfect extra for the movie and wanted him to return to do a reading. When he came back, face healed, the director asked him to read the lead part role. He got cast in the lead role of “Mad Max” and his career took off from there.
Charlize Theron was trying to cash a check at a bank when she was discovered. The banker wasn’t allowing her to cash a check that she needed to pay to live somewhere to live that month. She was begging and pleading with the teller to help her out all while an agent was watching. He approached her and asked to represent her and after that she got her debut role in Children of the Corn III.
You never truly know when you are going to meet someone who could change the rest of your life and launch your career. While auditions naturally help, you can also just happen to be discovered on the street one day.