Director Tristram Shapeero apologizes for ‘insensitive remarks’ during Lukas Gage’s viral audition video

Director Tristram Shapeero has come forward to say he’s the one who made the “unacceptable and insensitive remarks” in the video Lukas Gage posted of his acting audition gone wrong — and he’s sorry.

Over the weekend, Gage, who has appeared in TV’s Euphoria, shared a video of a virtual audition he did in which the director, who wasn’t muted, remarked on how “these poor people live in these tiny apartments.” Gage made the moment less awkward with a witty reply, leading the director to apologize, and shared the clip on social media — months after the audition — as a “PSA” to “sh** talking” directors to mute their mics on Zoom auditions. The video went viral — with millions of views and other actors showing their support. There was much speculation on the identity of the British director, which led to Shapeero coming forward in an essay for Deadline.

Tristram Shapeero says he’s the director who made the comment about Lukas Gage’s apartment in the viral video. (Photos: Getty Images)

Shapeero, who has worked on series including The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, started his essay by writing, “You probably don’t know who I am, but you’re likely familiar with my story. An actor, Lukas Gage, posted a clip on social media taken from a Zoom casting he and I had been a part of back in August. During it, an unmuted director makes reference to tiny apartments and ‘these poor people,’ referring to actors. The quick-witted Gage responds that he knows his apartment is ‘sh***y’ and that is why he needs this job so he could get a better one.”

He said against “what is probably wise advice: to say the least possible and let this pass,” he “decided to come forward, take responsibility, make the apology Mr. Gage deserves, and offer some background for my unacceptable and insensitive remarks.”

Shapeero continued, “First and foremost I offer Mr. Gage a sincere and unvarnished apology for my offensive words, my unprofessional behavior during the audition and for not giving him the focus and attention he deserved. My job is to evaluate performers against the part I am trying to cast. Lukas deserved better.”

In explanation, he talked about the audition taking place in August, the fourth month of lockdown, and as he did each audition, he felt “emotional” seeing “actors work so hard to win the few parts available” under the “extraordinary circumstances.”

He said he 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.”

Shapeero is heard apologizing in the video posted, which he said was sincere.

“As I say on the video, I’m mortified about what happened,” he said. “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.”

Gage hasn’t yet publicly responded to Shapeero’s apology, but he’s been busy getting a lot of love from other members of Hollywood who applauded him for his quick response in the viral clip. His reply was: “I know it’s a sh***y apartment. That’s why, give me this job, so I can get a better one… I’m living in a four-by-four box, it’s fine, just give the job and we’ll be fine.”

The 40-Year-Old Virgin director Judd Apatow was among those to show Gage support. So did Superstar’s Molly Shannon, who’s currently shooting the HBO limited series The White Lotus with Gage in Hawaii. Others included Joe Jonas, Sophie Turner, January Jones, Emmy Rossum, Zelda Williams, Dakota Fanning, Seth MacFarlane, Billy Eichner and the list goes on.

A paparazzi caught up with Shapeero yesterday — while he was walking his dog and awkwardly carrying a poop bag in his hand — and asked about him being the director in question. He didn’t deny it was him, telling the camera person in the clip posted on TMZ that he didn’t have “any apology because I didn’t say anything bad. You have to look up the definition.”

However, he said he planned to address it on his own terms — not when being ambushed, saying he was talking to public relations experts and a statement would follow.

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